Kids love to tinker. Cardboard boxes, paper clips, pipe cleaners, aluminum foil--nearly anything can be useful in the eyes of children. (Sometimes I wonder why we have so many toys..) That’s why I’m so excited to share this STEM activity with you, the tinker tray. A tinker tray is basically a tray full of materials that you can create with. You can use them to build, make art, or just play with. The only rule is that you have to use your imagination!
I surprised my kids with a tinker tray one morning and said, “Here you go, do whatever you want with this stuff.” Their eyes widened. No rules?? Not only that, they had ideas right away. Wooden spools became binoculars. Pipe cleaners transformed into an airplane. And wooden sticks became magic wands. It kept my three- and five-year-old occupied for an hour and a half. My husband even sat down and made a yo-yo.
You can make it fun for yourself by going with a theme. Here are some ideas:
-Things from Nature
-Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
-Material: wood, metal, fuzzy
While it can be as simple as laying small objects out and letting kids have at it, there are some guidelines to a successful tinker tray.
Here are some guidelines for what to include in your tinker tray.
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