With my boys almost grown, I don’t often have activities for the younger crowd on my radar. But this book caught my eye and I am so glad it did. The author, Rachelle Doorley, has some of the best ideas I’ve seen for engaging young children in creative play. We’ve all heard that a child’s work is found in his play. This book does an excellent job of creating an environment that encourages exploration and discovery that will delight your young learner.
The first section of the book outlines the steps to take in preparing your Tinkerlab and equipping it with a vast variety of supplies to encourage creativity and learning. The author discusses what things to consider when setting up your creative space. She gives attention to things like organization, controlling clutter and handling messes. She then gives recommendations for what supplies to include in your space and includes lists of suggestions in several categories. The next section is a wonderful discussion of how to create a “creative mindset” that will encourage your child in exploring and venturing out on his own. Doorley concludes part one of the book with some thoughts on the idea that everything can be an experiment. She says, “A habit of experimentation is good for many reasons. Experiments teach children that there are multiple ways to approach a problem. When children solve self-designed problems, they learn how to think for themselves. Experiments also remind parents that they are co-learners who don’t have all the answers. The spirit of experimentation, exploration, and pushing boundaries is at the root of innovative thinking.”
Part two of the book is where you’ll find the fifty-five experiments the author has gathered. She divides these activities into four groups. The first group entitled “Design” is all about creating with paper, glue, paint and other art supplies. The second group called “Build” focuses on creating three-dimensional projects with a variety of elements such as straws, toothpicks, string and items from your recycle bin. The third group is called “Concoct” and includes activities you can do using common household ingredients such as flour, water, vinegar, and baking soda and soap. Some of these experiments are even edible. The final section is entitled “Discovery” and expands the activities to exploration outside the confines of the creative space you have set up. It includes activities such as examining nature, scavenger hunts and experimenting with light.
This book is aimed at an audience up to the age of six but I can see older kids finding plenty to hold their attention.