Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tinkerer's toolbox (the tame version)

Gever Tulley recently created this fabulous resource: The Tinkerer's Toolbox , a list on Amazon that has all the "basic tools are selected for their compatibility with children's hands, their general durability, and successful history of use at Tinkering School." Of course I think it's a brilliant list, but it also made me want to offer up this gift suggestion for parents/friends/relations that might want to encourage a child's inner tinkerer, but aren't quite ready to let them have at it with the hammers and saws. I think they could get quite a lot of tinkering done with this: This is all, of course, just a very loose suggestion. I think you could just wander the aisles of your local hardware store and see what things might tickle your child's fancy. The general idea is just that they'll be able to get their hands on some stuff that usually resides securely in the province of adults and that there will be enough interesting stuff that will just excite their imaginations AND that they can use without adult supervision. Because adult supervision can really be a buzzkill. Trying to create with an anxious adult hovering around wondering when it's all gonna get cleaned up.... not that fun.

And that said, if you do decide to give this gift that keeps on giving, try to give them some space to go along with it. Even if it is just a temporary space.... "you can do whatever you want on the table in the garage for three days, but then I'm going to need you to clean it up"... I think most people need to be able to stretch out, think, consider, and yes, make a mess... without worrying that Mom is going to barge in and make them clean it all up before they're done. And yes, walking away from it all for a whole day or more might actually be an important part of the process.... a long pause before inspiration strikes. A pause we don't often give enough respect.

This is just some stuff that I grabbed at the dollar store, Hobby Lobby, Harbor Freight, and Home Depot. It's not at all hard and fast, though I do think lots and lots of tape and string and cord are indispensable (and are an awesome present all on their own.... consider giving a roll of duct tape and package of cord at the next kid birthday party you're invited to and watch their face light up....). Since it might be a bit hard to see, I'll write it all out for you:

Glue gun and glue sticks (if you're worried your kid will burn themselves, I LOVE this post by Teacher Tom with some thoughts on the matter)
Scissors (good ones)
Safety goggles (more for feeling cool and important than any dangers posed to the eyes with these tools and materials... save them for when you bust out the hammers, saws, and drills, though)
Cable ties
Gorilla Glue (it's non-toxic, and dries super strong) (and kids love gorillas)
Duct tape, painter's tape, scotch tape
Measuring tape
Popsicle sticks (obviously optional, but are a great little building unit that I have seen used in a multitude of creative ways)
Drinking straws (same thing)
Rubber bands
A variety of pulleys (endless fun)
Alligator clips
Letter and number stickers
Twine, string, jute, and rope.... lots of it

I got kind of a lightweight plastic toolbox/storage box with handle to hold all this good stuff because I'm planning on sending it to my nephews (my own children have easy access to all this and more, the lucky so-and-so's) but you could pick up a pretty cool toolbox that would lend even more dignity and glory to this already glorious gift.

And of course on the side they're gonna need some goods to work with.... pieces of wood, bits and bobs from the recycling, old cds, rocks.... I don't know, just whatever you have lying around, look at it with fresh eyes and..... give it to your kid for christmas! Now I don't know your kid, but I have a feeling they would love it.....


Bernadette said...

TWINE!!! Don't forget the twine! That's the number one thing in ours. I love this Kami.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this as well. Also feel good to know that I'm not the only one giving my kids real scissors and crazy amounts of rope. Didn't think of the gorilla glue so thanks for that one. It will make a great gift for the 10 year old along with the new buck knife.(:

miss merril said...

I love this idea, a tinkering toolbox for all! This is the first year I've given my pre-k kiddos wire and wire cutters and I have been so impressed with the respect they have for the material and working with it is their favorite. Thanks for another reminder that children can certainly handle "real" materials and tools.

rachelle @ tinkerlab.com said...

Hi Kami! I found you through let the children play, and so glad I did! Your blog is right up my alley. My eldest child is only 2.5, and I look forward to setting her up with materials like these as she gets older. You and Gever have got it right--kids should be trusted to mess around with real materials. It's with that time to practice, play and tinker that they'll learn to think creatively and independently. Bravo to you! Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

rachelle @ tinkerlab.com said...

...tinkering, sorry. Typing on my phone over her :) happy new year!!

Kami said...

Yes, most definitely, twine, rope, string, cord, loads of it! Thanks Bernadette!

So great to hear from you all...!

Tinkerlab.... cool!

Wire, wire cutters, and buck knifes.... also very very cool! You're so right, Miss Merril... I always say, kids don't want to get hurt any more than we do, so if we just show them how to work with tools/materials safely, they can totally do it. Bravo for doing that!