Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories Theory and Resources

On Our Bookshelf: Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors

Meghan Burch

Make Room for creativity

Encourage questions

Listen actively

Be curious

See mistakes as gifts

Embrace a good mess

Accept boredom as a tool for self-discovery

Step back and enjoy the flow

Spend time outdoors

Think of everything as an experiment

These “10 Tinkerlab Habits of Mind” are from blogger Rachelle Doorley’s first book Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors. Rachelle says she uses these habits of mind to guide what she calls her “parenting curriculum,” and are very much in the spirit of what we do here in the Art Studio.

I’ve been following Rachelle’s blog and have always loved how skillfully she blurs the line between art and science. This approach makes sense. Young children, in their drive to understand the world, don’t force divisions between those pursuits. In her blog, and now in her book, Rachelle shows she truly understands young children and how they construct knowledge. She also knows how to instruct and encourage adults to nurture a love of wondering and experimenting in themselves and in their children.

Tinkerlab by Rachelle Doorley

Tinkerlab has been in my possession for at least three months, but within 10 minutes of opening it, I had it littered with pink flags marking ideas I wanted to try with my own kids at and the young people I encounter at The Carle.

Her book blends the why and the how of offering “tinkering” experiences with concrete ideas for materials and experiments in chapters titled: “Prepare”, “Experience”, “Build”, “Concoct,”and “Discover” and in experiments such as “Take Things Apart,” “Hanging Structures,” and “Yes, You Can Paint on That.”

The value of this collection is that it includes ideas and projects kids will choose to come back to again and again as they (and their adults!) develop a language with materials and learn to shape experiments of their own design.

Making Art with Children is generously sponsored by the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority.


Meghan, smiling and wearing a grey shirt with a blue background.

Meghan Burch

Art Educator from 2003-2016, Meghan has a BFA in Illustration from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She tries to think with materials and work with her hands every day.