TinkeringChild @ Home

If you follow TinkeringChild web posts, Facebook or Instagram you will know how strongly TinkeringChild feels about how learning ‘happens’ where constructivism and constructionism thrives……’learning by doing’.

Being at home is a wonderful way for children, with or without technology, to play, discover and build on the knowledge they have and grow.

This post will share ideas which can easily be carried out in the home and garden environment. Maybe a few extra materials might be useful but not always necessary….be creative and improvise!

These ideas are just some from TinkeringChild.com over the last few years….

Start by downloading the STEM@Home house:STEM @Home house

Around the home

Rube Goldberg machines are so much fun to create and materials from all around the house can be used to use chain reaction to complete a simple task in a fun and crazy way!

Marble runs can be small or large, for example using a shoe box lid or a wall to construct with tubes and cardboard.

Squishy Dough circuits can be fun to first make the dough, great activity in itself and then make one batch conductive ( with salt) and the other non-conductive ( with sugar) and circuits can be made!

Animations with squishy dough or playdough. Once circuits have been made use the dough to create some animations using props. Creating a stage set from a cardboard box is a great way to make a scenery/stage for your characters. Use a free stop motion app to take shots as the characters move.

Caines Arcade to inspire children to create cardboard games. Children love watching how Caine created his cardboard arcade, the story its self is beautiful, and then let children made arcade games to entertain the family!

Drawing Bots are challenging and exciting to make, using a small hobby motor or vibrating motor (any old phones around can be taken apart) to build a fun bot to move and draw….or race!

Magnet Toys and games are fun to create. Use the magnet to pull the toy along or under game to move around a maze.

Elastic band powered moving objects are easily made to propel hand made toys like boats, cars or any creative artefact.

3D Cities and Towns made from cardboard or LEGO, with buildings which can have opening doors, lights, fans etc Designing and making roads allows robots, toys or hand made cars to travel around. Using apps to make stories about the town in ScratchJr.

Micro:bit projects are terrific to create games and tools but the site provides just as much fun learning to code using the inbuilt simulator. Search for Micro:bit.org, click projects and MakeCode to follow instructions and tutorials to make virtual pets, name tags and so much more!

Building Bridges from materials around the home, engineering and discovering the design of bridges and how they are supported is enjoyable and challenging….how much mass will each hold?

AR, VR and MR  is made possible for children to create with free software like CoSpaces and Metaverse. Children can create virtual worlds and view them in headsets or online. Metaverse is great for creating AR quizzes, scavenger hunts, escape-rooms etc

Holograms are impressive and fun to create, by making a black power point slide with a video embedded 4 times in the correct format. Make a square pyramid from dark laminated sheets (black plastic folder is good). Place the pyramid on the screen of the power point to view. Making a Hologram Image on Power Point  instructions. An easier option is to use BOP Industries Hologram Pyramid and the app Holapex Hologram Video Creator. Use a black back drop, video content ie person dancing, speaking ……. open Holapex app and click create video, upload your video and it will be converted into the format to be viewed in the hologram pyramid! Easy and effective.

POP …Prototyping on Paper…. is a fabulous app for Junior Students to design and create an app using paper. Think of an idea for an app. Draw it on paper and use POP to make it run on your phone or iPad!  The workflow is simple: Design on Paper, Take Photo, Link & Play! Click here for good article on the app. POP App guide.

Ziplines can be created inside or outside, for toys to travel around the house or people in the garden! Using string, wire or rope outside children can design and make carriages to hold items which can be moved around the home or garden.

Books to inspire making with technology is a great springboard into creating, making and building.

Mechanical Cardboard projects are super engaging, kits can be purchased from places like Kinetikits or Kiwico. Best challenge is designing and using hobby motors to create your own!

In the Garden

Volcanoes with baking powder and vinegar is an oldie but goodie! Collect materials from around the garden to build a volcano on an island. Use dirt, sand, twigs, water and let the imagination take over.

Rafts from garden materials to build a craft which will float across a swimming pool or bath. One of my daughter’s favourite activities when friends visited. First collect materials which had been placed in garden using orienteering around garden to collect items. Then, using the collection of items, rafts were made deciding how they will travel…balloons, waves, string, air pressure! They other way is to make a raft to carry people!

Flying Paper Planes can be carried out indoors and outdoors. Great for measurement, height, distance, wind resistance, design features and so much more!

AI and Machine Learning can be lots of fun with apps like Seek by iNaturalistv , uses image recognition technology to identify the plants and animals so children can search and identify. The app, ‘Leafsnap‘, allows users to take images of leaves and with a computer vision algorithm, it detect shapes of leaves.  AiPoly Vision app, children can identify objects in the environment. Sorting and organizing data with games on https://www.education.com/games/sorting/

More Resources


Makerspace ideas

More Makerspace ideas

Education World

Pro. Lisa Harvey-Smith

Daily STEM


Previous articleMaths Fun with Robots!
Next articleIdeas for Exploring Machine Learning in the Primary Years.
Jackie Child
Jackie Child has been teaching primary aged students for 40 years in a number of countries. She is passionate about how children learn through constructivist pedagogy. She is a Teacher Librarian at St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School and a sessional tutor at Griffith University for pre-service teachers. Jackie doesn’t believe in standing still, there is always plenty to ‘do’ and learn!