Back in September, before we had even pulled our kids out of school, I started perusing homeschool stuff on Pinterest. I think that’s where I first heard about Tinker Crate. After we officially started homeschooling, I spent even more time on Pinterest adding things to my “Homeschooling” board. Truly I don’t know how anyone did homeschool before Pinterest. There are so many amazing and free resources out there. Thank you, interwebs! I love that we can all have access to and benefit from the ingenious ideas of people all over the world. I knew that I wanted our homeschool experience to include lots of hands-on learning, so I knew Tinker Crate was something I wanted to “pin” for future reference.
Basically, Tinker Crate offers a monthly subscription for hands-on learning projects for kids. The company creating these projects has crates for several age groups: Koala Crate (for ages 3-4) and Kiwi Crate (for ages 5-8). Tinker Crate (science, technology, and engineering projects) and Doodle Crate (arts and crafts projects) are for ages 9-16+. These kits are great for anyone, not just homeschoolers. (p.s. They didn’t ask me to do this review. One of my FB friends did.)
I have children ranging in age from 4 to 12, but I wanted the projects to be challenging for the older kids, and I felt like my building-all-the-time 6-year-old was beyond what the Kiwi Crate offered. So, after finding a Pinterest coupon code for 30% off my first order, I went ahead and took the Tinker Crate plunge. Since then we have received two Tinker Crate projects in the mail.
Our first Tinker Crate had supplies for building a hand-crank flashlight. Each kit includes detailed instructions in addition to a “Tinker Zine” with more information and further project ideas. I wanted to let the kids figure out how to build the project on their own, so I mostly sat back and just took pictures. Despite some arguing about who got to connect each part, they managed to successfully build the hand-crank flashlight without adult intervention. Here are some pics of the process and the final product:
The Tinker Zine that came with our first kit had some interesting info about the history of electric currents. Apparently, Thomas Edison was kind of a jerk. :-/
The kids had a good time putting together the flashlight. I think they were a little disappointed that the light was so small and dim, and they had to crank really fast to get it to light up. Another drawback: there were a few electrical parts that they seemed to have trouble keeping in place. The fun was definitely putting it together. Since then we seem to have lost track of where the flashlight is, but I doubt they would have used it or played with it much anyway.
Our second Tinker Crate came in the mail yesterday afternoon, and my son wanted to get building ASAP. But we didn’t have time until this afternoon. Our second project kit included all the supplies to make a biomechanical hand and several smaller string-and-straw puppets. I helped the little ones make puppets while my older two girls focused on building the hand. Again, I didn’t help, and they were able to figure it out by following the instructions. Though time-consuming to build, the mechanical hand has been a huge hit, and I expect it will continue to entertain the whole family for a while. Some pics…
The Tinker Zine that came with this project includes info about the skeletal and muscular systems in hands, the history of prosthetic hands (first recorded between 200 and 100 BC!), modern 3-D printer hands, and some extra related experiments to try. Cool stuff.
So far I feel good about our monthly Tinker Crate subscription, but I’m glad to know that I can cancel anytime if we decide it’s not worth it. As my kids’ “teacher,” it’s been really nice to know we will have at least one really cool science project each month for school.
If you’re interested in trying out Tinker Crate, you can get $10 off your first order using my Friend Referral link HERE. For every referred order, I also get $10 credit toward our monthly subscription as well, so it’s a win-win for both of us. :-)
Some other cool stuff we’ve loved using for homeschool:
- Snap Circuits
- Digital Kitchen Scale
- Suspend Game
- Block by Block Game
- Daily Paragraph Editing books
- Duolingo Spanish iPad app
- Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool free printables for social studies
- YouTube videos
- Math Mysteries
- Toothpick/Matchstick puzzles
- Math Dice Games
- Google Earth
- King of Random’s science projects