I am willing to bet that books about tinkering with kids didn't exist for my mother. However, I grew up in a single parent home and our family was a team. Not to mention, we didn't have a lot of money. So, creating DIY projects often involved tinkering and I am grateful for that opportunity.
Project Based Learning for Kids
We had our fair share of mishaps – flooded basements, broken appliances, and flat tires to name a few – which she always handled with grace and confidence. Now that I am 37 years old and the mother of 3 young children, I appreciate the example she set for me. To say that I took her ability to solve everyday problems for granted is an understatement.
I am a believer in learning by doing. There is something empowering about being able to fix something with your own bare hands or to research and to at least attempt to solve the issue.
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When I unclogged an extremely clogged bathroom sink a few months ago by unscrewing the pipes, etc (I'll spare you the details), I felt strong and capable, not that I haven't always felt strong and capable but on days like that one I walk the walk.
“No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.” ~ Isaac Newton
So, I want my children to walk through life with the same confidence and respect for one's ability to take care of themselves. I want them to be problem solvers, resilient, and resourceful. Plus, there is the added bonus that a project-based approach to learning is beneficial to a child's brain development.
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There is not much to lose.
So, to help you get started on your journey, I compiled a list of my top resources in the area of “tinkering with kids”.
Enjoy and please share your favorites!
My Favorite Books
I began reading Tinkering: Kids Learn by Making Stuff recently. I will admit, I can't stop going back to it. The projects are inexpensive and the pages are extremely accessible. The author seems like he could be your friend and mentor. The way the book is written doesn't scare us, new to the topic parents away from the project-based approach to learning for our kids but also for ourselves.
The photos are definitely old school black and white and tough to “read” but the photographs make the book that much more endearing. The author gives us step by step guidance on materials and approach. I particularly appreciate the “how to” set up space with materials and general approach. This book is geared towards working with older children elementary and up.
Tinkerlab is a book for parents and teachers. I have written about Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors in past posts. I am a huge fan. The images in the book are beautiful and inviting to the reader. The book is a piece of artwork.
Projects included within its pages cover a wide age range and disciplines such as engineering, science, and art. The author gives us parents, the readers, an inevitable “can do” attitude. In addition, she offers solid research on why this approach to learning is so critical to young minds. Not a book you will regret purchasing for your home or classroom library.
Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom is a great book for teachers (that includes parents!). The authors help us readers gain a new perspective on learning. The book guides adults in enabling children, creative in their natural right, to become and to embrace lifelong learning and creation. I appreciate the overview given within the pages of the book. There are several project examples to help educators in their homes and classrooms.
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Who can argue with a book out by the extraordinarily amazing Exploratorium? Exploralab is just that…a hands-on, take-home version of the museum for parents. Furthermore, the book engages children through everyday life experiences. Finally, the activities are accessible, especially those parents who want o ignite a child's learning in science by the amazing things around them.
50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do) caught my eye immediately. I love Gever Tulley (founder of the Tinkering School) especially after seeing his Ted Talk 5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Child Do. In other words, this book inspires me beyond words.
I love the idea behind Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects written by Make Magazine Editor in Chief. Geared for dads and daughters, the projects are obviously easily meant for sons, too. The well laid out activities are technical and not so technical appealing to a wide spectrum of people and moods. Finally, this book is written for parents and encourages wonderful hours of family time.
I hope we inspired you today!
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