Tinkering in the early years

Implemented for the first year, Creative Curious Tinkers is a collaboration between Science Centre Singapore and the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) under the Innovation Guidance Programme (IGP). 30 pre schools participated in the programme with the intention of developing a tinkering corner, makerspace or maker curriculum in the school. .

As this was the first full day workshop that we have done, especially for teachers for the really oung ones, we had a nice challenge curating the right kind of activities. We decided to have plenty of reflections to complement the many hands on activities. Much of the inspiration for the reflections and sharing, as well as activity faciltiation came from the Innovative Learning Centre, led by Susan Crichton. The team had a chance to meet up with Susan last year when she was in Singapore and had several insights into the training of educators which we put in place. We were also very inspired by Maureen Carrol from the D. school and copied activities unabashedly from her book DesignEd.

Standup, have vertical surfaces, plenty of open ended activities, lots of movement and cross pollination – these are what make Making and Tinkering different from sit down programmes at school.  Making ties very closely to self directed learning, and it was important for the teachers to understand the role of the tinkering space to bring out the individual creativity of the student.

We had three activities – the Marshmallow Challenge, Squishy Circuits and the Marble Run. T

Where appropriate, we tied the activities to the kinderarten learning framework and the iTeach principles.  It was helpful to do this mapping, both for us, as the teachers, enabling them to look at Making and Tinkering beyond a Science Activity. Much of this also came out in the teachers’ mid curriculum implementation. We heard statements like “Tinkering is a totally different approach. That is what we realized as we put the programme together”, which was very heartening to hear.

We had a tinkering kit that we put together, as well as a relevant resource kit with starter activities. Another wonderful thing that we discovered was how willing teachers were to stretch their students. We had teachers enthusiastically jumping on activities like cardboard automata and paper circuits, which we had included in the activity list with some trepadition, due to the level of fine motor skills involved. But as far as we could observe, both from the teacher enthusiasm as well as the videos of the children that were shared with us, kids as young as five and six have no problems at all with these activities.

During the brainstorming session, teachersbrought up excellent concepts from what they have learnt and included ideas which they felt will be useful to help build the skills in a child.


We are really looking forward to the work by the teachers and to share what the preschoolers are tinkering.

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