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Our Tinkering Table

We have had our tinkering space since six months ago, and I first blogged about it here. The table used to be hubby’s and my work table in the study room, and we moved it to the common area when the study room became Didi’s bedroom after he was born. Then the study table became more like a storage area, where we dumped everything and anything and the pile kept getting higher. But I really couldn’t find another space for tinkering, so I cleared everything on the table, yay! Somehow, once we put our mind to something, it usually happens : )

So, other than the the boys’ tinkering boxes, what else are there on the table?

 

Boxes of various sizes & shapes, egg cartons, etc

  

Toilet rolls, bamboo skewers, smaller egg cartons, cork pieces

  

Smaller boxes, yogurt containers, plastic cups, yakult bottles, straws, cardboard, this n that

  

Ice cream sticks etc, wooden blocks, bottle caps

 

Scissors, tape, hot glue gun, batteries, various stationery

 

Related books!

 I’m also doing up the boys’ bedroom! Still a work in progress though, so can’t make it for this blog train. Here’s a sneak preview 😛

 

Reading nook! Meimei often hangs out in the boys’ room with the brothers.

Big cushions at the foot of their beds

  

This post is part of the Small Spaces blog train, which is hosted by Mum in the Making. Click on the button for a look at more small spaces. 

 

  Next up on the train is Growing Hearts. Angie is an educator at heart and by profession. She blogs mainly on how she engages her three kids with hands on activities especially the Visual Arts. Take a peek at the Art station, spaces to Create and Learn for her 3 lil growing hearts tomorrow.

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Making Makers

This is actually the title of a book I just started reading, and it’s exactly what I am trying to do – make makers out of my kids. My goal is for the kids to make, to create, to build, to invent! Came across STEM for kids and I am hooked. Science, Technology, Engineering, Math! (Sometimes Art is added to make it STEAM. But… science and math stuff are easy for me, but errrrrr, art… maybe later :P)

But after reading quite a few books like Tinkerlab and Tinkering: Kids Learning By Making Stuff, I realised there was one big problem. Firstly, I am not a creative person. Secondly, the books give instructions for how to DIY amazing things, but I don’t want my kids to be just following instructions! So, after some brainwork…

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A new tinkering area for the boys!

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The boys have a tinkering box each – with things from my craft stocks and random stuff around the house.

Next step. If I just leave it up to them, I really wonder how long it would take them to start making, despite all the materials they have access to. I think making is a habit, a culture. They probably wouldn’t know what to do with all those random loose parts, until inspiration struck dunno when… Boredom is supposed to be good for creativity, but for a book lover, it is very difficult to feel bored, especially with a book-loving mummy who buys many books and with a wonderful public library 😛

I decided to take the bull by its horns and CREATE the culture! I shall let the boys see me making things. But I do not want them to see me referring to instructions in the books or on my iPhone. I shall pretend they are my own ideas, ha! So, the night before I plan to ‘make things’, I do my homework. I read the instructions and remember as much as I can. I also draw the drafts in my notebook, to set a good example for the boys to plan and to put in ink their ideas.

Then, when I am making, the boys only see me referring to my drawings! But seriously, because I sometimes forget the exact instructions, or because I do not have the exact same parts as in the books, I have to do a lot of improvisations and trial-and-error.

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Wooden spoon catapult

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Propeller-driven car ver 1

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The 1st car didn’t move too well, so I experimented with other wheels and axles. Success!

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Sail car

I made all those in one day! Thanks to having an entire free day at home : )

Two days later…

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This dump truck is my first baby! I thought of the whole thing myself, with a movable dumping bed, a door that opens, and a see-through windscreen!

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I made the trolley in Meimei’s hand!

Then we moved on to something more exciting – moving robots!

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Drawing machine – markers attached to a plastic cup. The motor moves the cup and the markers draw on the paper.

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Didi’s robot

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My robot haha

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Kor Kor’s draft for his robot!

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Kor Kor’s robot

Red Ted Art’s Blog has a post on making mini robots, and I also referred to the Tinkerlab book for instructions. I had no prior experience with using toy motors before, but as I was making the robots, I realised it’s much easier than I expected!

Start with making the robots, just like doing a craft – glue or somehow attach cardboard rolls or whatever to make the robot, then add googly eyes, stickers, anything to decorate. Then connect the battery holder with the motor, and attach it to your robot. The interesting bit is you have to attach something to the axis of the motor as an ‘unbalancer’. A small coin will work fine. Tata!

Urmm, don’t expect too much though. I have no idea how to upload a video here, but as you can see in the video at Red Ted Art’s Blog, the robots just sorta vibrate and spin. Hmm, I guess it takes high-tech robotics to make the robots walk in a straight line? I need time to figure that out 😛

The best part about this whole experience of making to make my kids makers? After just two days of making, making, making, I am already feeling a lot more competent! Much faster too, and I have started to really like doing it (instead of just doing it for the kids). Hopefully my kids will feel the same way as they start tinkering and experimenting with what they can do. Yay!

(By the way, yes, I made all these. Not my kids. Not my kids with my help. They hardly did anything at all except be busybody and touch this touch that or just run off at times. The only thing they really did was the craft part to make the robots’ bodies. Cos my goal was to create the culture of making, NOT to give them instructions to follow.)