The importance of tinkering

With an endless supply of TV shows and movies at our fingertips (hello Netflix, Stan, Apple TV, Presto and Foxtel),  time that children would normally spend playing, exploring and creating has been reduced to a whisper. The role of ‘tinkering’ by children is important in it’s ability to force our children to devise new and wonderful solutions to problems. Tinkering in our home tends to occur more readily when sticky tape or masking tape is left out. Numerous ‘traps’ are then set up using said sticky tape and different items of furniture.

The importance of tinkering has been acknowledged by an initiative called the ‘Makerspace movement’, which started in US libraries. The movement is part of an ongoing evaluation looking into what the role of the modern library should be in our society. Makerspaces are places where people can come together and create, explore, tinker, re-engineer and involve themselves in problem solving and discovery.

Here are our picks of books that inspire creativity and exploration in children:

 Inspiring making to make small things with Violet Mackerel by Anna Branford

Violet Mackerel loves to make things – especially small things. Let Violet show you how to make some of her favourite small things: small things to wear, small things to use and small things to give. Packed full of crafty ideas and lots of thinking outside the square! All of the fun and small things Violet shows you how to make can easily be made with things you have at home!


Inspiring cooking cook french: Les Enfants Cuisinent a la Francaise by Claudine Pepin

According to Jacques Pepin, “the moment for a child to be in the kitchen is from the moment they are born.” Kids Cook French, written by his daughter Claudine Pepin, is a fun, interactive cookbook for kids that introduces them to the art and joy of cooking. It gets them interested in making their own meals and better eating habits, while also teaching them the importance of culture.


Inspiring tinkering Kids learn by making stuff by Curt Gabrielson

In this book, you’ll learn tinkering techniques in key science areas, how to let kids learn science with hands-on tinkering, engaging techniques for science learning and step-by-step instructions for activities that don’t end with a single project, but that provide many paths for tinkering forward.


Inspiring exploration by Weldon Owen

Let science blow your mind with the Exploratorium! Take a good look around: The ho-hum spots you inhabit every day are actually secret laboratories full of fascinating and eye-popping wonder—from the instant you wake up to the time you nod off at night! Discover these awe-inspiring scientific playgrounds with Exploralab—the hands-on, action-packed activity guide from the world’s most beloved and fun-filled laboratory of all, the Exploratorium in San Francisco.


Inspiring art play Oops by Barney Saltzberg

This book demonstrates the many ways that torn, crinkled, and smudged bits of paper can be transformed into various shapes and images.


Inspiring gardening Step-by-step Cooking and Gardening Projects for Kids by Nancy McDougall

Suitable for budding gardeners and chefs, a guide to cooking and gardening presents a range of more than three hundred activities and simple recipes–from growing fruits and vegetables to cooking them for delicious results–all shown in clear, colour photographs.

Check out our collection of ‘non-boring’ school activity books on Pinterest.

This blog was inspired by an article called ‘Books on making, tinkering and creating’ by Megan Daley and published via