Recently, the directors from our preschool and after school programs visited a local public school that has transformed one of their classrooms into a Masker Space and were instantly inspired. We came back and sent out emails asking our families to donate recyclables, electronics and anything else they were happy to be rid of (old CD’s, tools, puzzle and game pieces etc….). To some it might seem like we were asking for “trash”, but to our little creators here, it is are an absolute treasure.
With these donations we set up our own space in a classroom and created a Maker/Tinkerspace. This is a creative space where the children can gather to explore, tinker, discover and create. Teachers have been bringing the children to use this space to enhance a topic the children have been interested in. They also set up provocations to promote inquiry, play, imagination, innovation and critical thinking.
What looks like “tinkering” to us…taping recyclables together, dismantling an old alarm clock to use the pieces, is actually hosting a long list of benefits for the children. When they are using this space they know there is no “incorrect” way to create and that we are trusting them as learners. Creating through trial and error helps the children to problem solve…..to try until they find a solution rather than just getting an immediate answer from us. Tinkering helps to boost creativity, foster independence, fuel engagement, creativity and curiosity. One last big benefit – for parents and our program- repurposing your donations means less waste!
One of our Springboard classes recently had an interest in bridges. They searched for pictures of “famous” bridges, creating them with all kinds of mediums in the classroom and used our Tinkerspace to create grander versions. The bridges were set up in our Great Room for families to observe. Below are some samples of the documentation around the process and creativity.
So the next time you go to throw away that cereal box, broken radio or deck of cards that is missing a few numbers, remember those items hold so many opportunities and creative ideas in the minds and hands of our tinkerers.