A Simple Lesson for the Kid Who Loves to Tinker
One afternoon when we were out for our bike ride along the Resevoir, my son paused mid-ride and got off his little red trike. He told me in a serious voice that "My bike is broken. I need to stop here and make some repairs." His sister was becoming a dot in the distance ahead of me and rather than embrace his imaginative play and desire to tinker, I waited a moment and then urged him back onto his bike. I was ashamed of my lack of enthusiasm for his ideas all the way to the car.
My son has been fascinated by how things work for as long as I can remember and I'm not always the most patient with his questions. He loves pretending to make repairs, ask questions, and always needs to How and Why explanation for everything. I decided that afternoon to start investing more time in supporting his need to understand. Since then, this interest has involved a lot of detailed explanations about how things work on my part and a lot of building and tinkering on his part.
In our homeschool preschool, it seems like most activities are inspired by books. I love books and fortunately my twins seem to have caught the bug. When I started brainstorming ways to support his interests in tinkering and questioning and understanding I started with a list of books. If you think in a similar way, then I'm excited to introduce you to a group of like minded bloggers today that are sharing in the Storybook Science hop.
When looking for children's books that will appeal to my little tinkering kid, I found the If I Built series by Chris Van Dusen. This one was one of his favorites for a long time. Both of my kids loved the imaginative ideas and illustrations.
If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen (Find Online) is the story of a little boy, while riding in the backseat, tells his dad all about the car he would invent if he built a car. The plans are outrageously imaginative. The car can fly, provides food, and even has a robot driver so you can take a dip in the swimming pool while you go somewhere. The fantastical illustrations capture the bright, inspring brilliance and creativity of a child's imagination. 3+
After reading this book many, many times we started to talk about their dream cars. They had some fun ideas and I asked if they would like to draw their own car plans.
"Can you help me build a car like this Mom? I want to make one that flies and drives."
"Don't you want one that goes into the sea too? That's way cool. I've never been in a car that goes under the sea. I want to go in one and see what's down there."
"Can you help us with that mom?"
This was my son's car. When he was done drawing he told me all about it and I labled the different parts. His car included a bookshelf, a robot, wings, lights, and a pool. When they were done drawing, my son wanted to know if they could build their cars.
I am pretty sure he wanted to build the actual car, but since we were lacking the space or parts we decided to do the next best thing: tinker.
These are aptly named TinkerToy and are great for inventive creations. We laid their plans on the table and got to work building their cars. My son of course had to don his construction worker outfit before we started.
At this point Dad got home and joined in on the construction. He knows a lot more about construction and building than I do, so he was able to answer some of the many questions that had arisen during the day that books and googling hadn't quite managed to satisfy.
When they were done, the cars were complete with wings, steering wheels, seats, lights and more. I loved the inventive ideas that this book had inspired and the way it seemed to support and extend my child's natural interests. The best part is that the TinkerToy has remained one of his favorite toys and his ideas and imaginative uses for them continue to amaze me daily.
Using Picture Books with STEM Learning : READ POST
How to Create a Tinkertray : READ POST
How to Tinker with Kids : READ POST
More Posts in the Storybook Science Series : READ SERIES POSTS
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