[Week 5 Activity] Time for Tinkering


Welcome to this week’s playful activity!

This week we encourage you to take time to tinker:

  • Choose a material or technology to playfully experiment with
  • Describe and share a picture of what you were tinkering with
  • Reflect on your tinkering process

Here are some questions to guide your reflections:

What were you tinkering with? Did you feel like you were able to playfully explore and experiment?
What did you notice? Did you try anything new or different? What might you want to try next?

Looking forward to hear from you!

P.S. The Tinkering Studio website has some project ideas, if you are looking for inspiration!

This post is also available in Italiano, Português, Español, 日本語 (Japanese), עברית (Hebrew)

Make It Happen
Tinkering Time
Week 5 - Tinkering

This week I’ll start! I couldn’t wait to take some time for this tinkering activity! :smile:

These LCL days my desk is crowded by post-its and I love the simplicity and colorfulness of this material, so I decided to use it for a quick exploration.

I had no idea on what to do (and not much time) so I started by folding a post-it in two, and trying to make it stand in different configurations. After being a table, then a bookshelf, my first purple post-it became in my mind a building, and I started making a city. It was amazing when I realized that I could leverage the post-it glue to connect two or more post-it together and make the building taller, it was my first post-it skyscraper! I said: here is the Boston skyline!

When @shruti saw me tinkering, she jumped in! As she saw a yellow post-it laying down horizontally, she suggested that could be an house, and with more of them we could create a suburb! So I quickly added more, and suddenly it was pretty clear that we were building Cambridge, the town where MIT is located.

We only needed… the Charles River in between! So I ran to get some blue post-its, and while I was laying down the last post-it for the river, a surprise came from @Lily: she added the final touch - a wonderful post-it boat!

Here is our first not-finished-yet post-it city-landscape:

If I had more time I would definitely experiment with… so many things! I’d be interested in finding new ways to use the glue behind them, or maybe… yes! Building a bridge! I don’t have an idea of how to do it, but I’m sure that with some more time and tinkering I would be able to blow my mind… again!

I can’t wait to read all about your tinkering explorations!
Happy tinkering!

פעילות שבוע 5 - קחו זמן לטינקרינג

Tinkering back at you with Scratch :slight_smile:


As @tarmelop built his first ‘not-finished-yet’ post-it scene, I thought it will be cool to tinker with this on Scratch! @Lily and @tarmelop each gave me a sprite to use in my project. Initially hesitant to have constraints, I soon realized, the right constraints can sometimes spark even more creativity. So with 2 sprites, a flying hippo and a ghost, I started with my Scratch project.

The idea of Boston and Cambridge led to more ideas…Hippos are in Cambridge spending a quiet time, while wondering what’s happening in Boston. The accidental outcomes of tinkering in Scratch were the most fun part…the hippos’ crooked walk was one such accidental discovery. I was experimenting with turning and flipping costumes, and in the process, I clicked on the blocks to see how it was working and even though it wasn’t what I initially expected or planned, I liked what had emerged out of a ‘mistake’, so I decided to keep it that way.

For the other side in Boston, I wanted to make something unpredictable. Seeing a party like backdrop in the library, I decided to make a ghost party. By duplicating sprites, adding sounds, and simple animations, I was able to add so much to my story. I really enjoyed tinkering with @tarmelop’s scene and the two sprites in Scratch :slight_smile:


As a supervisor for an after school program, the possibilities of tinkering are endless! A wide range of materials to choose from. I had a left over mini-pumpkin from Halloween, grabbed so me paints, glitter, and brushes to create something fun. Here are the results. Hope you like it!


This week I am practicing my paper circuits skills to get ready for an tinkering based early math education professional development workshop I am hosting on Friday. The process was interesting for me because although I have done this project before, I found myself occasionally unsure of what do next and frustrated. I wanted to build a switch. You can see in the photo, that I have to hold the switch together because it was not built to work perfectly on it’s own. I never stop being surprised at how good it feels to finish a frustrating task and how that feeling of being capable of accomplishing things follows me into the rest of my day.


From Kindergarten.This was taken last week. I think this is an example of what Tinkering is about.
Kids were just collecting leaves in recess. One of them started to build a “taco” with a leaf and mud. Then he said “leaves look like feathers” and right away he was making a Turkey.
there was no diections, no plans, no model to follow. Just creativity and freedom.
“Let our kids spend time messing around with materials, playfully exploring what´s possible, until a goal emerges from their explorations”


My Tinkering



I am feeling particularly triumphant! I had a creative idea inspired by the work with Chatbots my Code Club have been doing. I felt the time had come, after watching them work on their projects, supporting and collaborating with each other (with minimal help from me!), for me to complete a similar project of my own…

I used a tutorial… I experimented… I got frustrated when it didn’t do what I wanted… I read support forums and tinkered… and tinkered some more… nearly gave up (it’s not quite what I had in mind but that’ll do…) but persevered… felt I was getting somewhere and had a renewed burst of enthusiasm… and completed my little Chatbot project!

But I also feel I could return to the project with new ideas and tinker some more - I never thought I could create something in Scratch without following a step-by-step tutorial like I had to in the first couple of weeks. I am feeling increasingly confident with Scratch which in turn has given me a sense of the possibility of succeeding with other new things (I have promised my Code Club we will get out the Raspberry Pis in the New Year which will be my next mountain to climb but I will begin that journey with a stronger belief in my ability to get to the top in collaboration with those around me).

I feel less worried about tinkering now - the worst that could happen is I learn from my mistakes and start again!


My main hobby is based on the whole Tinkering idea. I have been creating and painting scale miniatures for more than 15 years now and some of the most advanced projects I have finished have been created through trial and error and searching for the right materials.

One of my biggest projects are 3D terrain scale pieces. I usually build these in a combination of a lot of materials like card, gravel, plastic sheet as well as ready built models. one of these projects is this futuristic urban precinct building

You can see more of my projects over my blog at


Yes! I’m realizing more and more that it’s all about providing TIME! For this week’s project, I took the opportunity to play with my son. He wanted to try combining his LittleBits set with his Legos to come up with something like a moving car. While I set about finding and sorting pieces that could be used for movement on the car, he got to work on the LittleBits. An hour later, I had a huge pile of largely unrelated pieces, and had figured out how to connect a few to make wheel and axle combinations, joints, etc., but he had created a wireless remote control car from the heap on the floor!

I realized then it was really nearly time to go to bed, and the living room floor was covered in blocks. If I said we had to clean it all up, as I normally do, then all our sorting would be lost and we’d have to start from scratch the next day. Sorting and trying out ideas for combinations takes an enormous amount of time! I didn’t want to start all over! I told him to leave it there and we’d go back to it tomorrow. We’re going to need to create a space for projects in progress in our house!

Then I thought about my kindergarten class, and how I ask groups to rotate around to different play centres every 20 minutes, and to clean up all the toys before leaving for lunch or after school. For a child who has just spend 20 minutes sorting objects to get what she wants, this must be extremely frustrating! Now I’m thinking of how we can clean up the toys just enough to let the janitors do their jobs, while still preserving the integrity of the students’ project so that students can continue their thinking and iterations day after day, building on what they’ve learned. I’m thinking that perhaps I could have my 4 & 5 year-old creators make little stop signs with their names on them, and to place them on anything they didn’t want disturbed within the classroom, so that everyone, including classmates, teachers and janitors, would respect their work and let it lie. Perhaps a shelf top could be dedicated to works in progress? Through my little play experience in tinkering with Legos this week, I’ve realized that in my play-based classroom my students need much more time and space for exploring materials!


I played with wooden toothpicks and melamine sponge.

At first, I thought I would make animals, but things didn’t go well.
After the tinkering with no purposes, things were shaped like this.

It looks joyful, don’t you think?
Tinkering can produce the things that were not in my mind.
That is why I like tinkering.
But, on the other hand, I was frustrated while tinkering with no interesting result.
It was certainly “hard fun”.


My tinkering project this week is to test out different speeds of the CupBots that I introduced on a PlayFutures project in Kenya in October (Exploration 1).

The CupBot designed and created out from silverpaper and other material on the top - is a design made from one of the kids, 4 years old. :smile:


I loved your idea of the Stop signs! That could work! But yes, definitely we need to create a space for projects in progress in our house too.
I also agree on “Time” We teachers need to give children plenty time for creating, playing. We are always worried about the planning, contents, filling books… We need to reinvent ourselves and give priority to developing creative, problem solving, caring students.


Yes! and this is what I hope my students feel each week when ‘tinkering’ to find solutions to challenges I ask them to resolve. btw, love the switch you built that lights up your i.


My tinkering project has been a month of NaNoWriMo - a challenge to get 50,000 words written in the month of November supported by a global writing community.

[I’m continuing to write about my fictional Celina learning to navigate relationships in 5th grade as she learns to navigate Scratch.]

It’s a sprint everyday to write in any-which-way-direction from the POV of any of my characters to build up and twist and turn and flip my story.

Here is a quote from Stephen Chbosky, author Perks of Being A Wallflower: “I wrote 70 pages just to get to ‘I guess that’s one of the perks of being a wallflower.’” [L.A. Times. Nov. 15, 2017 - how lucky is that for my LCL reflecting?!]

That’s what I’m after, that moment of discovery, tinkering in my NoNoWriMo sandbox.


Thank you! I hope that my students feel this way too.


TIME to PLAY: What an exciting time to play! Love all the ideas and want to try them myself. Curious about the process of play without being to self aware. It was a bit hard to choose what I could play with that I hadn’t really done before. I started with paper and thought about origami which led to animation that sparked me to think about tinkering with “Time”. Playing with time via time-based media, it was interesting to see how my interests and ideas evolved from a single idea of recording a time-lapse video of myself commuting to work. I used the Lapse app and played around with how many frames a second I wanted and how I might point the camera. I soon found out that I can experiment with my camera angle and how slow or fast I moved with the camera made a difference in its results. This motivated me to do some fun post editing of the time lapse on the theme of “walking to work” or going somewhere. There were filters I could put over the images and I continued to experiment in what I might focus my camera on and for how long to pause in motion or gesture at the camera itself. The whole process took two days and in all I made four separate time-lapses each adding to the last of my journey (commuting to my museum). I compiled all of them in iMovie app and added “playful music” to go with it. It was a lot of fun to make and a lot of big discovery on the way in terms of how one might play with “Time” and express that time through a narrative or sequence and the world around them, including themselves. See the video here:


When I start thinking about this activity my mind went to my pupils in school and their contribution to creative thinking. As an eco-school we always try to act for sustainability and ecology and that is the reason why we organize an eco-tree competition, among others, every Christmas. The kids in every grade tinkering with different materials and try to accomplish the project by using recycling and reusing materials. The results are very impressive as you can see below…
DSC_8692DSC_8694DSC_7931DSC00058eco tree 2015 14eco tree 2015 6eco tree 2015 13
And some more here…


Well, for this activity i decided ti experiment with toilet paper roll. It s a material that gives you endless alternative uses! Due to its shape, it is a piece of cake to tranform it.Once i started i became unstoppable! I dressed it with fabric , i cutted it in different heights , i covered its holes etc. Here are some of my new creations!