Tinkerlab: Mandatory MAKE and STEM Reading

I have been doing some extensive reading and researching to plan for some new things in 2015. I have read or I should say attempted to read many books that fit into the categories of STEM, Art, and the Maker world. Some are not very good because people just want the quick buck.

But, there are some mandatory reading and one of those is Tinkerlab by Rachelle Doorley. This book takes a look at play, experiments, tinkering, and creative thinking for young kids. However, what I found was a book that was loaded with ideas and projects that spark this creative flare in any age and person.

The book contains 55 experiments with paint, art, pulleys, electricity, playdough, naked eggs, goop, lava lamps and more.

This is one of the very few books where I did more than just read and took notes. I actually played!IMG_1466

I brought in my kids to help and you can see that we had a blast. My two daughters loved the painting activities from painting various objects to salt mixed with watercolor.


As an adult who has a kid heart I took the ideas and developed my own. I took the idea of using stickers with paint and started to handcraft my own presentation slide templates.


My final proof to the power of this book is that my daughter who is 3 and cannot read loves this book. She tracks it down and knows exactly how to use it. She goes to an activity, looks at the pictures, attempts to find the materials, and asks me to join her. It has turned out to be a resource that has led to some great family time experimenting and playing which is what I preach in all my teaching at school.

You can see her passion with paint all over her face. She did not care as she was in the zone!

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This should be a required book in any maker bookshelf, classroom, parent, and teacher. There is something for anyone even though the activities are designed for younger kids. I am working on taking these ideas as a launching point to hook kids to remind them what it is like to think young again and build momentum from there to higher levels of thoughts.

I also took the content and am applying the ideas to my classroom in general in regards to materials, open access, and creating a positive environment to explore and ask questions.

I really hope more people check this book out as it surprised me in how helpful and enjoyable the book was to read. I cannot wait until the weekend to do more experimenting.

You can buy the book here

Check out her website and social media as well. I just followed it all to stay motivated.

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5 thoughts on “Tinkerlab: Mandatory MAKE and STEM Reading

  1. i could not agree with you more. What an honest review!! I too have purchased the book it shipped all the way to Africa. I have had for five months now and it is a wealth of knowledge. My son also tracks the book down to find something to do it just never disappoints.

  2. As I often do, I just repurposed Seth Godin’s latest post (@ThisIsSethsBlog ) for education to “Creativity–>Engagement–>Effective Learning” and should have added “and Effective Problem Solving.” This post from you fits like a glove!!! If I were in a classroom, I’d have “junk” (like they sell at the Children’s Museum in Boston: cardboard tubes, foam pieces, …) available for students to make something, knowing that will impact learning.