Berlinsky Column: Tinker Time – Great tinkerers become great problem solvers
Play is learning, and tinkering is the ultimate hands-on play.
Use these great websites for tinkering ideas for all ages:
When something breaks, do you try to fix it or do you call someone? Do you often wonder how computers and cell phones work?
If so, then you are a natural tinkerer.
Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were known for spending hours tinkering and look where that got them! If your child is curious about how things work, then capitalize on that and set aside a place where they can tinker the day away. Even if they’re not, give them a space and call it their tinkering studio.
To set it up, think back to when you were a kid: Did you play with Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs or the game Mouse Trap? If you did, then you are already familiar with the concept of tinkering.
If this is new to your family, start simple and then build to more complex tinkering experiences. For a simple tinkering, think Tinker Toys. Grab some large and small marshmallows, straws and toothpicks to build creative structures using simple engineering skills. Talk about angles, shapes, lines, weight and measurement. How tall or long can you make it before it collapses? How can you reinforce it so it can stand on its own?
If you’re ready for a more complex tinkering experience, think about Mouse Trap. Use a peg board, funnels, dowels, PVC pipe and tape to create a track for marbles, ping pong balls or even tennis balls. Give your child a goal such as to make a path for a marble to roll from top to bottom or let them discover their own outcomes such as finding out that different paths can make the marble speed up or slow down. v
Robin Berlinsky is the director of education at the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, adjunct professor at the College of Charleston School of Education, Health and Human Performance and is the owner of niki leigh spa parties. She has taught in the Charleston County School system and has three children. For more information, contact Robin.Berlinsky@gmail.com.