Tinkergarten [ Recap and Review ]

*This post is in partnership with Tinkergarten. All experiences and opinions are my own. 

If you’ve visited Foxglenn Park on a Wednesday morning this Fall, you may have seen a group of parents and children exploring and playing. Maybe you’ve wondered what all the fuss is about? Well, Flagstaff now has it’s very own Tinkergarten Program! My 4-year-old son and I recently participated in the Fall session and we loved the program. 

Leslie O Photo

So What Is Tinkergarten?

“Tinkergarten brings early childhood education to a park near you. In our classes, kids enjoy the freedom of independent exploration through well-designed play-based activities that lend from the best of research and best practice to promote the development of critical capabilities, including self-reliance, creativity, persistence, and problem-solving. Tinkergarten classes are led by a trained, certified community of leaders — often parents — who bring a healthy, social, and engaging learning experience to their community.” – Tinkergarten website

What Can You Expect from a Class?

The classes occur once a week and run for about an hour each. Tinkergarten is hosted outdoors, at a local park, in all kinds of weather and seasons. In fact, seasonal changes are one of the best parts of Tinkergarten! Flagstaff’s four seasons are spectacular – and we loved experiencing Fall during our Tinkergarten session. 

“A leader guides the group of children and parents through one or more activities that fit to a progressive curriculum, each of which develop skills that are critical to early childhood development. The activities focus on outdoor play, including creative use of natural resources.”

Every class we attended had a new focus but built upon lessons we’d previously explored. For example, we opened and closed the class with songs – ones that my son picked up immediately and would join in singing every class. As a parent, it was insightful for me to take a step back and watch my son experience the activities. One lesson was all about mud – and he was very hesitant to explore the feel and texture of the mud mixture. I gave him space to watch the other children, and when the Group Leader, Christina Molinaro, suggested he paint with the mud – he was immediately engaged. 

What Are the Benefits?

At one of our very first classes, we made Stone Soup – and to this day, several months later, my son still requests to “cook” up a batch in our backyard. In addition to the weekly classes, participants also receive emails with supporting materials and lesson details. When my 4 year old wants to revisit a topic or action from a class, I have an email in my inbox filled with suggestions and activities to try at home. 

“Research shows the links between play and foundational capacities such as memory, self-regulation, oral language abilities, social skills, and success in school.” – NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children)

Leslie O Photo

Participate in the Next Tinkergarten 

Are you curious about the Winter Session? They’ll be offering free trial classes during the first two weeks of January. Winter season begins mid-January with classes on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Want to enroll for Winter? Visit the site HERE

Questions? Reach out to Group Leader, Christina Molinaro

Final Thoughts

Tinkergarten is special, and we’re lucky to have our very own program here in Flagstaff. I’ve known about Tinkergarten for a few years, watching friends in other cities enroll and participate with their children. Personally, I was so impressed with the overall tone and vibe of the program. Tinkergarten is so supportive, creative and welcoming. It’s the kind of environment you want your children around. 

If you’re even slightly curious about what Tinkergarten might be like – check out a FREE trial class

“Time in nature is not leisure time; it’s an essential investment in our chidlren’s health (and also, by the way, in our own).”- Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Special thanks to Group Leader, Christina Molinaro for inviting us to participate.