Jessica Ralli
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Tinker Trays

At nearly 5 and just turned 2, Jack and Cleo are finally the right combo of ages to start using the tinker tray. I casually put it out on Saturday afternoon, and provided glue, tape, and toothpicks to meld their genius creations together. Jack wanted to create a robot that you could code, but was fine when I broke it to him that he’d have to code it with his imagination. Cleo wants to do everything her brother does, and ended up spending most of the time poking the toothpicks through the foam beads—a great fine motor activity! They were absorbed in their tinkering for a full 30 minutes, which is almost 1000 hours in preschool time.

What is a tinker tray, you say? It’s a compartmentalized tray filled with groups of things you can use to make other things: shells, rocks, rubber bands, washi tape, corks, yarn, wood pieces, toothpicks, styrofoam, etc… It’s a good idea to keep your trays near the kitchen or main trash can, so you can sort as you go and before you throw away treasures like the tops of food pouches! Tinkering is a great open-ended activity that encourages language, creativity, problem solving, and fine motor challenges.

jessica ralli