I recently took two of my kids (ages 3 and 4) to a Tinkergarten class and I could not wait to share our experience with local moms. Not being familiar with Tinkergarten and their program, I was really excited to get the opportunity to learn more. For over 7 years, Tinkergarten has been on a mission to spread a love of learning and nature throughout the country by offering play-based learning experiences to kids in community parks. Their classes are guided by experienced Tinkergarten leaders and are designed to engage and inspire kids in building essential skills including empathy, collaboration, creativity, persistence, and problem-solving.
Before the class, I received an email that outlined the lesson for the class, what to bring and where to meet. As a first-timer, that was all very helpful. The lesson for the class was to observe the ever-changing winter sky. Parents stay with their children to help them foster a sense of wonder about the world.
The class started with two exploration activities. The kids could get a bucket to explore the area and collect nature treasures. The other activity was to explore some ice circles that contained leaves, berries, pinecones. The kids could pick them up, break them apart (my 4-year-old loved that part) and really get hands-on with exploring them.
Tinkergarten Story Time
Next, the children all came together on a tarp for the Tinkergarten song and a story. Our leader, Michelle, read the book, Sky Color. All the kids were captivated. The Tinkergarten class is taught in all weather conditions, so the tarp helps make sure that happens as a safe, dry space to sit down.
After the story, the kids created their own winter sky on a white sheet/table cloth using the tools in their buckets around them. The paint was frozen cubes and the kids needed to do some problem solving to get them to melt a little bit and be able to paint the sky. Our leader had brought some warm water and salt the kids were able to “melt” down the paint cubes enough to get them to color. It was a really fun and engaging activity.
Tinkergarten Wrap Up
Lastly, we all came together for a snack and tea. We were told ahead of time to bring a nut-free snack and water. Our leader provided snack placemats (bandanas) and warm raspberry tea. It was a wonderful way to wrap up a really fun class.
What I loved about the class:
- The class that we took was for ages 18 months to 8 years. I loved that an entire family could come and take the class together. The mixed ages really worked well together and it was wonderful to see the older kids helping the younger kids.
- There was just enough structure and guidance to keep the kids engaged but also lots of opportunities for the kids to explore and have hands-on experiences.
- Our leader, a mom herself, was really attentive to all the kids. Asking them lots of questions and really engaging them.
- The class had a community feeling. All the parents/caregivers were active in the class by helping their own children and others as needed.
- There is a discount if you are registering siblings for a class and an early bird session discounts.
Year-Round Outdoor Learning Experiences
Tinkergarten offers classes at local parks throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia during all four seasons for babies age 6 months to 18 months and children 18 months to 8 years. For a full listing of classes near you, visit the Tinkergarten website. Tinkergarten’s Spring session is now enrolling. Their classes begin in March and continue through May. Tinkergarten classes are a wonderful opportunity to enjoy some well-spent time outside with your kids and meet other local families with children of the same age. You and your family can take a free trial class to find out more about this fantastic program. We took a trial class and it lasted 50 minutes, regular session classes are about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
We are an outdoor family and I take my kids to parks all year long. The idea of an outdoor class was a huge draw for me. Each session of classes is based on the seasons; exploring winter outside is not something that readily comes to mind. I really enjoyed the opportunity for the guided exploration of the winter landscape through my kids’ eyes. After the class we received a summary email from our leader with pictures from the class. I will definitely be enrolling my kids in a Tinkergarten class again.