5 Reasons to Let Kids Tinker

Do you believe that you should let kids tinker? My 10 year old son is fascinated with how things work. He was thrilled when we gave him permission to take his broken CD player apart piece by piece. We gave him the basic ground rules and set him loose. This was a fun adventure for all 3 of the kids. I think that there are 5 reasons kids need to tinker!

5 Reasons to Let Kids Tinker

I remember growing up with parents who let us tinker in the garage. They let us use the hammer, nails and any of the scrap wood. We built a treehouse that wasn’t pretty, but sure was fun. We learned to use the screwdrivers and knew that ‘lefty loosy/ righty tighty’ was the way to get the screws in and out. We were given the freedom and permission to tinker. When we would finish a project, they would come out and inspect our work to make sure the treehouse was safe or the the job was cleaned up.

There is so much to learn from playing around with old electronics. Of course, we want our kids to be safe, but we need to give them space to learn by tinkering and experimenting. Being able to take things apart and learn how they work is sometimes the best way to learn about ‘stuff’.

There are some parents who are hands off and give their kids the freedom to learn and explore how things work regularly. But others of you are much more concerned with how much mess is made. If you are concerned about the mess, just turn them loose in a garage or give them a big tarp to sit on and work. The kids will get another chance to learn about how to clean up their mess after they are done tinkering. Kids need to tinker so they can have the opportunity to learn on their own.

This has set my brain to racing. I’ve done research and found that you can buy kits that teach you all the basics of electricity, building and inventing. This is going on my REALLY WANT to BUY LIST! Elenco 130-in-1 Electronic Playground and Learning Center

electronic playground

But why not let him experience the ‘real stuff’ until I can get him something like that? I’m planning a trip to the local thrift store tomorrow to scavenge all the items I need to get him started on his own path to tinker paradise.

Benefits of Tinkering:

  1. Learn how things work.
  2. Learn to clean up their mess.
  3. Gain self confidence as they figure out how to take things apart.
  4. Learn proper tool usage and rules (lefty loosy/righty tighty)
  5. Problem Solving Skills

Rules for Tinkering!

  1. Wear safety glasses.
  3. NO Water!
  4. NO Food!
  5. Anything broken/jagged goes in trash.
  6. Wash hands after working.
  7. Tools must go back in box.


  1. Screwdrivers
  2. Pliers
  3. Flashlight
  4. Glue
  5. Scissors
  6. Tape
  7. Hammer – with permission

Need Supervision

  1. Saw
  2. Any electrical tool/device

The favorite things they discover when you let kids tinker

The circuit board:

The number display:

tinker 5

The Magnets:

tinker 6

The Body Armor and Telescope? (OK, this is the 5 year old imagination coming into play!)

I love what my friend Jen just posted about her son. He just created a life size robot from boxes! When parents encourage their kids to discover, we are helping our future become more amazing!

Do you let your children tinker?  Any suggestions for beginners?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

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  1. Wow what a great post. Tinkering seems like tons of fun. I wonder if my kiddos would sit still to tinker. Sounds like a cool idea I will need to try it out! Thanks for sharing!

  2. it’s not just for kiddos 😉 I tinkered when I thought my portable dishwasher had died since it started pouring water all over the floor..took the cabinet off only to find the hose connector had come untwisted over time…tightened it up and it’s been fine since 🙂

  3. Wow I never knew all this and here I thought man are my kids going to ever stop taking things apart I did not realize how many things they learn to do by doing this.

  4. when I was 6 I wanted linclon logs, I got dolls,
    when I was 8 I wanted tinker toys, I got dolls
    when I was 10 I wanted a bow and arrow set, ,,,
    Great thing about being a grown up I can buy my own dang toys.

  5. I LOVED to bust my brothers EtchASketches up with a hammer to ‘FIGURE’ out how it worked. After about 4 or 5 times of that, my mom said no more allowed in the house. 😉

  6. What a terrific post…..Tinkering, in its many forms, is why we chose Montessori for our children’s education….

  7. Something my kiddos love to do! And have taken apart before, broken fans, can openers and other things. I love the idea of picking up something at a thrift store just for that purpose. Very cool!

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