It’s About Process, Not Product Says TinkerLab Guide for Little Inventors

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Rachelle Doorley writes one of the most inspiring blogs, TinkerLab. Now she’s published a wonderful book —TinkerLab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors (55 Playful Experiments That Encourage Tinkering, Curiosity & Creative Thinking.)
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TinkerLab 55 Playful Experiments That Encourage Tinkering, Curiosity & Creative Thinking by Rachelle Doorley

The book celebrates a child’s process, the tinkering. It’s not about product — not at all. It’s more about what kids can figure out and innovate. I LOVE that, don’t you?

Each of the 55 activities guides you to offer kids an “invitation” to invent and tinker. These are set up by you so that kids can independently play. Doorley says to make these invitations simple and beautiful.

I love this philosophy and have barely gotten started on this amazing book with my kids. We have all summer to create these invitations to design, to build, to concoct, and to discover. And we can’t wait. I love how this book is motivating me to do more prep in the mornings to create enticing invitations to experiment. I’ve got big plans!

Here are a few experiments we’ve tried so far. (But we can’t wait to build robots, concoct natural dyes and discover how to DIY light box.)

Marbleized Paper with Paint and Oil

This experiment used oil and food coloring to make marbleized paper. Lovely!

Paper Marbleing from TinkerLab book

What did the kids discover? The girls figured out that the oil separates quickly from the dye. The also discovered how far they needed to hold the droppers so the ink didn’t sink. They can apply that to make new and better marbleized paper next time. Or maybe they’ll marble something else!


Drawing Games -> Exquisite Corpse

This game is a popular one around here!

Fold paper into thirds or halves. (It depends on how many people you have at the moment.) Each person draws their section of the animal or character’s body. However, you can’t peek at what the other drawings. What crazy thing will you create together?

birdachicken exquisite corpse

The girls quickly discovered they had to help each other with guide lines where the body or head ended. They learned about proportion and cooperation.

Everything is an Experiment

The TinkerLab book is filled with wisdom from others in the form of quotes. Here’s a favorite:

“Creativity is like scientific research in that it involves doing things that haven’t been done before. As such, creative endeavors are essentially experiments, and if they are really unique, you have no idea what will happen.”
– Tina Seelig, inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity

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