Tinkerlab: A hands-on guide for little inventors

Kids are funny, and scary. When I realized I had a creative little toddler, I struggled to find ways to keep her busy. I knew our oldest daughter was full of creativity, just like her dad. I needed to find a fun way to have organized chaos. On a very slim budget, I was able to create an amazing space for my girls to make a huge mess while exploring her creative side. Little did I know, I had created our very own “Tinkerlab.”


I met Rachelle Doorley years ago in a playgroup. Our kids were just a few weeks old, and we didn’t interact much. However, we’ve crossed paths many times over the years. And I consider her one of the best resources for creative thinking. It was no surprise that she founded Tinkerlab and created one of the best hands-on guides for parents. Rachelle’s book is genius, because she combines a common sense approach with play elements for the perfect creative outlets for your child. Her new book, Tinkerlab: A hands-on guide for little inventors, gives you 55 creative ways to play with your kids while they explore their creative curiosity.


Our oldest daughter just started school last year. But we’re starting our second round of tinkering with our youngest daughter. Addie is less about organizing and more about making a mess. Rachelle has given me a whole new approach for my second curious toddler. We’ve already started exploring, and we can’t wait to make a mess.

I am giving away a copy of Rachelle’s book, Tinkerlab: A hands-on guide for little inventors, for you to enjoy too. All you need to do is visit Tinkerlab and let me now what creative outlet you’d like to explore. Come back and leave a comment. I’ll be selecting one random comment to win a copy of Rachelle’s book.

Because Rachelle is awesome, we were provided a copy of her book. I had already pre-ordered it because I knew it would be amazing. This review is 100% my own words and opinion. This giveaway will end on Monday, July 7th at 5:00pm pacific. 


  1. Kim Six thekimsixfix.com

    I would love to make her salt dough recipe. The kids would have such a blast I bet!

  2. Sharon

    We are starting round 2 of tinkering as well and I love that she has an easy recipe for making your own (rainbow) playdough!

  3. jennifer delvecchio

    ooooh. building with box rivets looks exciting

  4. Ellis

    Recycled weaving fence, definitely. Never seen this with a soft grid.

  5. Rachel Cox

    We will definitely try the soft cloud dough! Have seen it before and it looked fun.

  6. Daniella

    We love to doodle and paint!

  7. Daniella

    We love to doodle and paint

  8. cheryl

    I am so vested in seeing ‘just play’ for what it truly is and supporting the true learning and discovery that is happening.

  9. Katie

    We are excited to try more robotic drawings!

  10. Alicia

    Rainbow rice jars! So fun :)

  11. Sarah

    I would love to explore the Doily and watercolor art!!

  12. Johnna

    My girls are little and would love cloud dough and rainbow dough!!

  13. Amber Brazell

    I just discovered her blog and think it’s amazing!! Really drawn to the science experiments as my 8 year old LOVES science!

  14. Diane knittingzeal.typepad.com

    I want to try making marbled paper with my son. I figure he can use the end results for thank you notes or letter writing practice.

  15. Amanda

    We’ve made cloud dough and loved it! Recently I set up a tinkering box for my toddler. I have starting a doodling journal and look forward to my son expressing his creativity through art as well so we’re in the process of setting up and art area in his playroom.

  16. Jessi Feltmann

    I’ve been saving cardboard tubes to make a marble run. Tinkerlab’s version looks awesome!

  17. Sara

    I like reading about all of the different art projects, taking things apart, and using recycled materials.

  18. Blayne houseofburke.blogspot.com

    Tinkerlab’s marbled paper activity looks extremely fun! I’d love to explore more of their science experiments!

  19. Melissa

    I want to explore the science side of art with my Grandson. I want to stretch my boundaries.

    Thanks for this opportunity! 8*)

  20. Melissa A

    Fort Magic and box rivets look like so much fun!

  21. Mayra

    I would make her origami for kids. My daughter would love that.

  22. Erin Buhr Www.bambinitravel.com

    I love all of the ideas at Tinkerlab, but right now we are in the process of moving. I would love ideas to help us set up a wonderful creative space for tinkering in our new home.

  23. Sarah M

    I want to try all of the egg carton ideas! We have so many cartons and need to do something fun with them.

  24. Kate

    My oldest is 2 and a half and we have a newborn also…I’d love to work on creating a tinkering space for them in our urban rowhome!

  25. Mary

    I would love to try the cloud dough and some of the optical illusion activities! Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy – the book looks awesome.

  26. JennB

    I just found her printmaking category and can’t wait to try it all. I know my daughter would love to paint with things besides brushes and fingers!

  27. Tara

    I really loved doing the Tinkersketch with my son this spring. I’d love to set up some of the Creative Invitations both inside & outside this summer.

  28. Laura

    I’ve been meaning to make my kiddo some play dough! This would be a great resource for us :-)

  29. Julie

    Need to set up an art cart for summer so my kids are supplied for the inevitable “I’m bored.”

  30. Heather Green

    I’ve used some of Rachelle’s ideas in my elementary art classroom, which the kiddos loved. I’ve recently become a mommy and am inspired to create a TinkerLab for my little guy! I love how she has made discovery learning accessible at every stage, and look forward to changing out the creative table as he grows. I hope to encourage creative problem solving and maintain wonder in his world.

  31. Alison thepetitcadeau.com

    So many great ideas to really choose one – right now I think dough and painting would be really popular at our house!

  32. I am very creative with my kiddos, but haven’t done much in the line of Science experiments. I’m definitely going to be trying out some of Rachelle’s cool ideas, like the magical plastic bag experiment. That would fascinate my boys for sure. We would absolutely love this book, which it seems will never make it to the book shelf from all I’ve read about it. :)

  33. Ashley Anderson

    I’ve been following tinkerlab for awhile. I don’t feel very creative so I think I sometimes have trouble providing my daughter with creative play. I recently became a sahm and I’m concerned that my daughter watches too much tv. I bought us matching sketchbooks that we use sometimes but it doesn’t hold her attention long. I would love to get more ideas about hands-on projects for my daughter. Building structures with boxes seems like fun!

  34. Katherine

    my son would love the marble run!!

  35. Jessica

    I want to do her Tinkersketch challenges and put our recyclables to new crafty uses.

  36. Clare

    I’d love to have a go at the marble run, looks like great fun and I’m sure my big boys would join in too ;)

  37. Jami

    The teacher in me LOVED the post about the art cart… I appreciate some organization to the chaos of creating! :) I also plan on trying the doily watercolor activity!

  38. Cheryl

    I love her science stuff! I’ve waiting for this book :)

  39. Candice Duffey

    How to set up an art cart!!!!! :D very important to know!

  40. amber mommastuffblog.com

    I’d like to learn about helping my kids explore their artistic side but also about HOW to set up a really truly usable playspace!!

  41. Shirley Nell Fickert

    Love Tinkerlab, especially the art section. As a retired teacher I enjoy doing arts & crafts with my two grandchildren and their friends. I call it Grannie Shirl’s Craft Day!

  42. Jen

    Well I love everything – especially in the science section! Have already set up a mini science project investigating mentos and various carbonated drinks with my class of big – little kids! Pick me! Pick me!

  43. Tiffany Porterfield

    I want to try them all!! My partner is gone a lot, so its just me and my little two year old daughter. We are also apart of a group of 200 moms in our area I would love to share this book with. Looks so cool!

  44. Elizabeth

    Im setting up a letter writing area now for my little ones. I love the idea of little ones being able to get their own supplies.

  45. Misty

    This book would be a great resource to start a new school year with 3-5 year olds! :)

  46. Nisha

    I love any projects with liquid watercolor!

  47. Nandini Ks

    We enjoy the scientific ones. Would love to go for marble runs.

  48. Elsie

    Thanks for so many wonderful ideas! I’m excited to work on several of the science experiments, the marble run, and box rivets, the approach to sketching, and more…

  49. Solducky

    I love Tinkerlab! I would love to try more of the painting ideas. I always pin them, but put them off because I am averse to messes. I need to just push through that!

  50. Jeanine

    Not easy to limit my choice to one, but I think the marble run would be a good place to start!

  51. Melody

    Playdough and all the wonderful artsy ideas!

  52. Julie U

    We’d love to build a marble run!

  53. Heather spencer

    I really love tinker lab and have been trying lots of activities. The one I really want to do is the activities cart!

  54. Launa

    I’d love to try the salt dough, my kids love making play dough and cloud dough!

  55. Laurie Lynch

    I’m a fan of creative reuse with materials that otherwise would end up in the recycling bin or the trash. My toddler loves playing with empty containers, cardboard tubes, random odds&ends. She loves to build and play with buttons, knobs, and locks. I can see us using this book as inspiration as we build things. The sensory play ideas would be fun to try also.

  56. Jenn

    Going to try Doily & watercolor art for preschoolers

  57. Christina

    Fort magic and the marble run look like lots of fun! Would love to try them with my boys.

  58. Rachel

    I think there would be lot here to also to both my boys but especially straw rockets!

  59. Tiffany

    I’m intrigued by the water beads…I’ve never heard of such a thing. It combines two of my daughter’s favorites, water and beads! I’m also inspired by her tinkering space, something I’ve been pondering myself.

  60. Sarah M ssmast.blogspot.com

    Definitely anything slime or goo related. :) My kids LOVE that kind of stuff.
    Sarah M

  61. Emily Baal

    Robotic drawing, doodling, and painting!

  62. Nicole

    Drawbot! Aka making a robot who can draw =)

  63. Emerald Magbaleta

    Definitely would like to tie in more scientific learning with our tinkering :)

  64. Amy Linton

    Wow! I could get immersed for hours in the Tinkerlab website! Loved so many of the articles, ideas and provocations, but I think that we will try the invisible ink – painting with citrus today. My son picked so many lemons on the weekend and there’s only so many lemon cakes and lemonade you can make. He will love this I’m sure. :-)

  65. Jessica

    The Magic Potion Lab looks fun and such a great idea! I have a three year old too and I’m sure she would have a blast!

  66. Susan

    Cloud dough, rainbow dough, marbled paper (& other paper work), and oodles of science experiments. Also would love to build various marble runs. There is so much I would love to do with my PK class!

  67. Melissa

    I would love to win this for my little tinkerers!

  68. Rachelle has so many wonderful ideas! I really like the idea of taking my kids on a rainbow photo scavenger hunt. We’re making pinhole cameras over the Summer and this would be a great extension of that particular project.

  69. Brisja

    There are so many fantastic things to try, but I know my son will want to do the scientific ones first!

  70. Julian Aptowitz

    So many great ideas to help kids become active learners and creators. Thanks, Rachelle!

  71. Emma

    I think the doillies & water colours look great!! & am off to check out the creative table hashtag!! – brilliant!! Would live the book!!

  72. Cam bigcrazylife.com

    Thank you everyone for entering the giveaway. Congratulations to Alison at thepetitcadeau.com and Amy Linton. You are both the winners of the book. I had an extra to giveaway! Please check your email shortly for confirmation.

  73. Shannan

    So much to choose from!! My youngest would love anything sensorial. And, honestly, there’s so much I’d love to try for my oldest. He’s never showed much interest in arts and crafts! But, he loves to build!!

  74. Beth

    I will definitely be exploring the up-cycled cardboard for art panels. As a mom and a kindergarten teacher, this will be so useful! I can also use them for documentation panels:). Would LOVE this book!

  75. Beth

    OOPs, looks like this already was given away. Sorry:).

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