Drills, saws, hot glue and hammers aren’t usually what come mind when you think about kids and play. Think again. In the wonderful world of tinkering this is just the tip of the iceberg. Using creativity, math, science, imagination and the magic of trial and error, tinkering teaches future inventors about the world around them. Want to learn how to do it? Listen to these tips and tricks from the best tinkerers out there and you’ll be all set for your next project.

AnnMarie Thomas

After spending hours of her childhood in the basement hammering scraps of wood, gluing together cardboard bits and trying to sew, it’s no surprise that AnnMarie became an engineering professor and master tinkerer. As the mother of two daughters, Sage (7) and Grace (5), she sees tinkering as a way to mold the innovators of tomorrow. As she explains, “it’s pretty hard to invent the next transportation method or medical device if you never took the time to explore the way current (and past) devices worked.”

If you want to tinker like this pro, make it a family affair. These are activities for you too. It’s important to, “tinker with them! The best way to get your kids interested in making things is to have them see you working on your own projects, particularly ones where you need to learn a new skill to finish them.”

You can check out Anne’s blog for her take on engineering education and making. If you’re looking for a new project for your tinkerers take a look at the Playful Learning Lab at the University of St. Thomas; AnnMarie is a big fan of their Squishy Circuits project. If your little ones can’t get enough of electricity, try these on for size. This funky insulated dough will allow your little ones create parallel and series circuits for LED lights and even motors.

Online: annmarie-thomas.squarespace.com

Photo Credit: Kristian Olson

Do you like to tinker with your kids? Share your favorite project in a Comment below. 

— Natasha Davis

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