When my oldest was in second-grade, we visited a children’s museum, and I watched him have the best time in an area they had designated as their “Tinker Station”.
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Many of the toys there were similar to things we had at home. In fact, by this point, it seemed like all birthday presents, Christmas gifts, etc. that were coming into our house for the boys were these kinds of things – STEM toys and activities that would definitely fit in well in a Tinker Station…
…and that’s the day I decided we should create a tinkering space of our own.
So the next month – during my monthly hormonal energy burst – I made my way to IKEA and grabbed everything I needed to turn their current playroom space into what we now call our “Tinker Lab”.
At first I set up tables where they could tinker and create.
Most all of their STEM toys and activities were organized on a KALLAX shelf in the closet for them to pull out anytime they wanted to play with them, and then their Legos were sorted under their tables in these storage bins from IKEA.
Their tabletops were also a great space for them to draw and do some of their favorite art activities.
Step-by-Step Drawing Books Available Here
I gave each of them a place where they could keep their personal supplies – another TROFAST storage system from IKEA. (They call these their Art Towers.)..
…with some shared supplies on this art cart (This exact color may no longer be available.).
Paint, playdough, etc. continued to hang out in our kitchen area – but all of our other art supplies were housed here for the boys to access anytime they like!
They were THRILLED about their new space! They had outgrown much of what was in their playroom, so to have their play area transformed into a big kid space was really exciting for them!
I loved that they had a space where they could go to freely tinker and create…
…but I quickly realized that they were using the tables less and less! The tables were being used to house things they had built, but all of their actual tinkering was happening the floor. So I asked them if they would like me to move the tables out of their Tinker Lab, and they eagerly said yes!
They wanted more space – in the floor.
So I moved the tables into our homeschooling room. We had been needing some larger work spaces in there anyway…
..and on they went with their tinkering and creating…in the floor…the way they wanted it. They loved this space – even using it for tech time during our school day.
In recent weeks, we have transitioned our homeschooling space to where my husband’s office used to be and what had been our homeschooling space is now our Tinker Lab.
That’s right…everything you see here was moved into what was our homeschool room…and what was our Tinker Lab (seen here) is now a little playroom again…only this time, for two little girls. The boys like to go in there and play with their sisters – I think they’ll forever love being in that room…it’s always been their favorite spot in the house.
A COUPLE OF THOUGHTS FOR YOU:
Are most all of your kids’ favorite toys STEM in nature? Would they like a tinker space of their own? Maybe you don’t have a playroom space, but is there a spot in their bedroom or another area in the house that would work?
Also, I hope it’s been clear that this space has changed over time…and the way we use our spaces will continue to be adjusted as our kids enter different stages. Around here, it seems like every six months or so calls for a number of adjustments that are needed for our new season, and being willing to adjust…and willing to listen when my kids tell me the tables need to go…has helped to keep things running as smoothly as possible around here.
P.S. For realistic photos of how messy their tinkering space can get, follow along on Instagram – ha!
…and for our favorite extra-tall baby gates that help to keep little sisters out of rooms full of choking hazards, hop over here.
Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored by IKEA – I’m just including the info for where we found some of our favorite pieces for toy/art supply organization. No need to purchase what we did – I’m simply sharing a setup that might inspire you as you encourage anyone in your house who might like to tinker the way my boys do.