Daily Lessons, Science

Tinkering Around

Mr. 3 has been in a tinkering mood this last week. I love to see him building. He still needs help sometimes but he gets the ideas in his head and we try to follow through together. (Mommy, I want to build an airplane! Let’s build a crane!) I love to watch him sitting there with his tongue out (a sure sign that he is thinking) and arranging the pieces the way he wants them to go. He is learning, and there is no doubt about that.

Tinkering has many benefits for children of all ages. I did some actual research on this, and this is what I learned.

  • “Tinkering during play is critical to children’s motor skills by teaching children to use their hands to shape, move, and manipulate,” said Lu Lewis, Creative Discovery Museum’s Early Childhood Coordinator. (http://cdmfun.org/tinkering-offers-valuable-skills-to-kids)
  • Tinkering can help develop their problem solving skills. (Multiple sources). Mr. 3 has been learning this lesson, too. When his garage roof collapses I ask him why he thinks that happens. He will answer “It needs more support”. Then I ask what we can do to support the roof, and he will answer by placing his cars under it as a support beam. 
  • Tinkering is an outlet for creativity, and experimentation. It allows him to build confidence if he succeeds and learn from his mistakes.
  • If children tinker together, it will often times help them build sharing and collaboration skills.

The things our children can tinker with can be as simple as toilet tubes and cardboard boxes. You could use play dough and toothpicks. You could use books or cups or… anything at all!

Mr. 3 likes to build with this Melissa and Doug Wooden Construction Set. I only wish their instructions weren’t on the back of the box, because you have to dump the whole thing to read them.


Mr. 3 also enjoys Playmags magnetic tiles for creating buildings and cargo trains. Mr. 1 is also hugely entertained by the magnets. He enjoys pulling them apart or dropping them into a bucket, or putting them on the refrigerator. I have even used them to distract the wiggle worm during diaper changes.


I also like the Duplo’s because there are instructions to follow, even though we only have 1 small set. Learning to follow instructions is surely an important life lesson, and I appreciate that Mr. 3 can look at the manual by himself and figure out what to do. (Mr. 1 destroyed the paper manual so we had to download it on the Kindle.)


What do your kids enjoy building with?

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