One afternoon as I was dripping in sweat and coated lightly with attic dust and spider webs, I was moving old office supplies out of the attic and came across an “ancient” fax machine. I immediately thought, “This would be something really cool for them to completely take apart.” Before having boys, I would never have foreseen that I would constantly be on the lookout for activities and games for boys who tinker. This thought would definitely have topped my list of “things I will never say this when I’m a mom.”
I was so proud when I brought my son that fax machine. I felt as if I had hunted it down in some undiscovered jungle of South America and subdued it with only my wits and a bow and arrow. I explained to him what it was, and said, “tear it up, baby!” Again, back to the lists. Never would I ever…
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And so it began. Since I ran out of office supplies to sacrifice, my hunt for activities and games for the kid who loves to tinker was on.
If you have a child who loves to tinker, I bet they’ve always loved to tinker. My sons both always loved to study things, take them apart, and figure out how they worked. And sometimes he would try to put them back together.
This year, I believe I’ve found an amazing list of ten really cool activities and/or games for boys who tinker. Enjoy!
Go beyond bricks! Zometool‘s Advanced Building Blocks are treasured by kids, scientists, and artists because they introduce you to the next level of 3D thinking. Endless possibilities turn into hours of building fun as you explore fascinating shapes and patterns. BASIC Creator is a simple introduction to Zometool’s user-friendly system; start your collection and add to it later with larger kits to multiply the possibilities. Fun for the whole family; everyone can build at their level. Clear and colorful step-by-step instructions will get you started while leaving you a wide universe of the type of open-ended exploration and free-play that have been proven to boost creativity.
It is amazing what happens when we trust kids with their own ideas. That’s why we created the Electric Motors Catalyst: to inspire young Tinkerers to imagine and build their own inventions. Children are happiest with their hands and minds are working together – they’re having fun, and they’re also honing their hands-on creative problem-solving skills.
Everything is included, even the batteries and a giant paper work surface. And to fuel the imagination, the Electric Motors Catalyst comes with a deck of Challenge Cards, with inspirational prompts such as “Build a machine that draws curvy lines” and “Make a machine that can scramble an egg.”
Meet Osmo, the award-winning game system that uses proprietary technology to combine play with hands-on learning. The Genius Kit includes five great games (Masterpiece, Numbers, Words, Tangram, and Newton). Kids play at drawing, math, word, and visual challenges in front of the iPad, Osmo “sees” their real-world handiwork and responds with on-screen encouragement, guidance, and giggles. Works with iPad Pro 9.7 inch, all iPad Mini, all iPad Air, all iPad 2 & up.
Makey Makey is for Kids, Artists, Educators, Engineers, Inventors, Makers. Really it is for everyone.
Turn the whole world into a keyboard. It’s a simple Invention Kit for Beginners or Experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between.
Alligator Clip two objects to the Makey Makey. For example, you and a banana (or an ice cube, or a kitty cat). When you touch the banana, the computer just thinks a keyboard key is being pressed, so you can type a letter, jump in a video game, take a picture, or play some music.
Who is Makey Makey For?
Feel free to experiment with materials as diverse as Ketchup, Pencil Graphite, Finger Paint, Fruits, Plants, Coins, Your Grandma, Silverware, Anything that is Wet, Pets, Aluminum, Rain, and hundreds more. Really any material that can conduct at least a tiny bit of electricity.
Use your materials to create a banana piano, play Mario on a play dough game pad, take a selfie of your cat every time she drinks water. How? First, load up a computer program or any webpage. Let’s say you load up a piano. Then, instead of using the computer keyboard buttons to play the piano, you can hook the Makey Makey to something fun, like bananas, and the bananas become your piano keys.
Hundreds more of examples can be found at MakeyMakey.com
This is a new one to me – but it sounded so amazing – I included a video for you to watch…
Curved geometry in brilliant color … the 9 die-cut cards (and 3 solid backer cards) are 5 inches square and made from a thick, sturdy cardstock. The Kaleidograph™ can be arranged into over 570 billion designs. Based upon geometry in nature, the Kaleidograph upholds the tradition of the original creative design toys of the Froebel Kindergarten system that are known to have influenced Albert Einstein, Frank Lloyd Wright, Buckminster Fuller, Piet Mondrian, and design education at the Bauhaus. Like the floral forms found in nature, the Kaleidograph Flora is based on interconnected circular radial forms which can be assembled and overlaid into billions of possible patterns. Richly personal and environmentally friendly, the Kaleidograph Flora is a toy for all ages. It fosters creativity, rewards with surprise, and brings out the designer in everyone.
It’s fun like an Arcade while supporting a vigorous STEM / STEAM curriculum. 30 Snap Modules included to complete more that 200 projects with Snap Modules. – – Snap Circuits Arcade offers concrete, STEM /STEAM concepts with fun learning activities and creativity. Snap Circuits uses building pieces with snaps to assemble different electronic circuits on a simple “rows-and-columns” base gird that functions like the printed circuit board found in most electronic products. Each component is easily identifiable by a different color and functional purpose. Includes over 200 projects, utilizing 30 components including an internal Microcontroller pre-programmed with many fun to play interactive games, a programmable word fan, a tri-color light orb and a dual LED display.
Tinkineer’s Marbleocity introduces children to engineering principles and physics concepts with dynamic hands-on STEM model kits made of precision-cut wood in the USA. Each kit includes easy-to-follow assembly instructions in a graphic novel that features the Tinkineer characters. The comic introduces a physics concept or engineering mechanism that is the focal point of the model, all in a fun and engaging way! The result is an awesome kinetic sculpture and some new physics and engineering insight! Building requires only household white glue…no special tools! It’s a unique and playful learning experience for beginner and experienced Makers alike!
It’s the connection of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts & math) with a child’s natural curiosity and creativity and it powers the fun of each and every K’NEX building set. Building with K’NEX puts children on a path towards a fundamental understanding of STEAM/STEM subjects.
The Clock Work Roller Coaster Building Set is fully functional and recreates a real roller coaster. It captures the thrilling kinetic charm of the sky-high amusement park ride for children’s enjoyment. The coaster car moves up and down the tracks with amazing ease, giving kids a sense of satisfaction after hours of construction. Kids can build an exciting living room attraction or turn their room into a colorful theme park.
K’NEX supports key areas of a child’s developmental growth. As they click the different parts together and discover how the building system works, they’re strengthening hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, problem-solving skills, spatial awareness and exercising their imagination!
What is SAM? SAM is a smart construction kit. SAM blocks connect to the SAM app, and the rest happens by letting your imagination run wild. No wires, no fuss. Just serious fun. Program patterns and behaviors using the intuitive SAM Space app, or play the game with the Curious Cars app. Each SAM block has a specific skill. Buzzers, motors, sensors and so much more. They’re wirelessly activated using Bluetooth – to move, illuminate or sound. Simple ingenuity!
Unleash the creative powers of LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3! Build TRACK3R, R3PTAR, SPIK3R, EV3RSTORM and GRIPP3R faster than ever before with the amazing free EV3 Programmer App on your tablet. Then use the intuitive drag-and-drop interface to program your favorite robots to walk, talk, think and do anything you can imagine. When you’re ready for more, fire up the advanced programming features of the EV3 Software on your PC and Mac, or take instant control with the free Robot Commander app on your smart device or infrared remote control included with each set. Log on to LEGO.com/MINDSTORMS to access loads of cool content and interact with a huge online community of other LEGO MINDSTORMS fans. The LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 robot revolution continues!
Tinkerers become great thinkers!! These 8 brain-building STEM crafts aren’t just fun, they’re a great way to encourage creative thinking in kids. From making a zip line to something that will take flight to trying their hand at puppetry, kids will see their curiosity and creativity take off.
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If you’ve loved any of these tinker lover’s dreams – I’d love to hear from you!
Make sure to pin the image below so that you can always refer back to this post!