Given the opportunity, most children would rather run in a field of grass than play on an ipad but in the city, how do you let your child do such a thing safely? A new class in Park Slope called Tinkergarten is the answer and it is wonderful. The premise behind the Tinkergarten class is to allow children to roam and explore nature and natural objects in an undefined but supervised way.
The class begins when owner and Brooklyn Mama, Meghan meets a small group of parents and kids at the entrance to Prospect Park and allows the children to simply run through a patch of tall grass. She asks them to look at the grass and tell her a little bit about it, the texture, size, feel etc. Armed with only a backpack Meghan sits the kids down for a rule overview:
No putting anything in your mouth
You MUST be able to see a guide/ adult at all times
Respond to a whistle when it is blown
No touching glass or metal
Meghan encourages parents to continue these rules outside of class and while exploring other places with your little ones. This beautifully curated experience for children continues through the denser areas of the park and onto a field for running, exploration, games and an organic snack. Among the activities, children learn how to use a basic magnifying glass, and have conversations about what they were seeing.
Among the Spring programming includes tree climbing, fairy house making, and more. On a rainy day, there are activities that Meghan has planned that encourage kids to enjoy and explore the rain. This is not just a class for kids, but one for parents as well where they learn activities to do with their kids on their off time. It is amazing how fun a simple walk in the park can be.
After class, Meghan sends an email to the parents and posts the activity on the company’s blog so that you can enjoy them too. Here is what she writes to us:
What a great class we had today! I continue to be impressed by how eagerly and openly our young explorers use all senses to experience nature!
I was also so pleased to see how easily explorers wonder along with me when I ask them questions. At this age, they don’t often arrive at the formal answers (e.g. they may not be ready to decide why the green string was harder to find than the bright colored string), but they are excellent at noticing and really can start to wonder along with me when I prompt them. So, I will keep asking them open-ended questions
like, “What do you notice about that?” “Can you tell me more about that?” “What do you think that is?” “Great idea (when they share an idea or make a statement), what makes you think that?” Even if they are not ready to provide a detailed explanation, they really are ready to build the habit of mind to ask those questions…and this habit will pay dividends later on!
I also so enjoy being outside and allowing kids (especially at this age) as much freedom as possible to wander and explore at will. Kids today rarely enjoy unstructured time in such a stimulating place! So, please know that if/when any of our explorers seem to “abandon” the activity to run, climb, dig, roll, etc. they are doing just what they should do, especially in a Tinkergarten class!
Finally, many of these activities will be repeated in class – and can always be repeated during free time too! For example, as kids play and replay a game like the Bell Game
, they catch the bug to make sure the bell does NOT ring (at first, it is far more tempting and nearly effortless to make the bell RING!). Perhaps the game’s greatest benefit is how it develops self control and focus (a very important skill for school readiness and life!). But, as you all know better than anyone, self control is an emerging skill in 3 and 4 year olds! So, we’ll play it again in coming classes, each for short bits of time, and we can see if it’s something your child is excited to keep playing – or maybe could come back to again at a later time. For explorers this age, exposure and repetition are wonderful things!
Thanks so much for sharing your explorers and (for many of you) your own time with us today! We loved it.