*UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. Many thanks to all who entered!*
My boys are experts at it. And, quite honestly, it makes me crazy. All too often I discover a new form of chaos has erupted in my house. I step in honey on the front porch where they were making “potions”. I spray stain remover up and down the new white shirt that now has green spots all over it from making “paint”. I wash yet another round of sheets that were stepped on and dirtied from a failed attempt at a fort. It’s like these kids are trying to make me crazy.
But you know what I’ve come to realize? I’m crazy for trying to stop them. This tinkering? It’s actually pretty darn awesome. How else would my boys have discovered that a simple marker drawing is dramatically improved by placing a wet towel on it, blending the colors together in a unique and beautiful way? How else would they have created Lula’s Jewelry Shop—complete with store signage, employee roles and nametags (they even crowned Pink the owner and manager), and actual handmade jewelry to sell? How else would Big have created the most awesome birthday present for me—a model of the boys’ room, complete with them in their bunk beds and a mess all over (pictured)?
The truth of the matter is, it’s not the tinkering that makes me crazy. No, I actually love watching their creativity and curiosity unfold. It’s the mess. And the fact that— try as I might to force them—they simply don’t clean up to my totally reasonable standards of perfection.
So I say “no”. Sometimes with a more-than-exasperated “absolutely not”. Sometimes with a hopefully-they’ll-forget-this-nonsense “maybe later”. But the end result is the same—I halt their creative thinking. Because it’s inconvenient.
Well, after soaking up the really insightful, practical ideas from Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors by Rachelle Doorley, I’ve decided on a new approach. Rather than stopping inconvenient creativity, I’ll encourage convenient creativity.
I know, I know, I can’t totally control when inspiration strikes. But I can encourage inspiration. And one of the main themes in this book is creating invitations to discover. Whether it’s putting out prepared supplies for an activity with specific directions, or just placing a bunch of random objects on the table and seeing what the kids create, the idea is to invite the engagement—the tinkering—to happen.
While I’ll surely come up with my own ideas once I get in the swing of things, I plan to start with some of the 55 great ideas in Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors that I know my kids will eat up. The Potion Station. Straw Rockets. Pounding Flowers. Natural Dyes. Yes, my kids are about to get crazy. Crazy happy.
I’ve also decided that this book is going to be my new baby gift. Not because newborns like to craft and build, but because it has so many wonderful ideas about how to set up your home for creativity. And better to do it from the get-go rather than have to re-arrange once your kids are older and you finally get your act together. (Though I will say I’ve taken a few simple tips from the Tinkerlab blog and newsletter along the way—after meeting the lovely and talented (Bruin) Rachelle through a local blogger group—that have made all the difference to giving my kids access to our creative tools. So I guess I really have myself to thank for the awesome birthday present after all…)
*Giveaway*– Because I truly believe this book should live in every home bursting with little kid energy, I’m also doing a giveaway. Simply leave a comment on this blog post by Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 11:59pm PDT about tinkering in your house—how you rock at coming up with ideas, how you could use a bit of inspiration, or anything in between—and you’ll be entered for a chance to win your own copy of the book. One winner (residing in US or Canada only) will be chosen at random and notified via email. I look forward to reading your comments (even the ones that make me look bad…really).
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book at no cost for review purposes. All opinions are my own. This post includes Amazon affiliate links which allow me to make a very small percentage of any sale from the link.