Tinkergarten: Outdoor Adventure in the Big City

Disclaimer (I currently teach for Tinkergarten, but the views here are my own and I was not asked to write, nor compensated for this post)

As much as I love teaching there are things that frustrate me about public schools.  Perhaps this is because I didn’t grow up in school, or perhaps it is because as an Intentional Explorer I research things like “what kids need to learn best” and “how should kids be learning”.  Because of this, I feel frustrated at the crossroads of school and education where the paths cross but go in opposite directions.  In any case, I was super excited in the fall of 2016 to learn about a fairly new movement called Tinkergarten.  

What is Tinkergarten?

Founded by a former elementary principal and her tech-savvy husband, Tinkergarten aims to give kids and parents a time and place to explore. Tinkergarten does this by offering outdoor classes in city parks that focus on child lead learning and exploration through guided play.  

How I got involved

I first saw an ad for Tinkergarten on my Facebook and it was then that I broke my long-standing rule to never click on Facebook ads, and I was immediately glad I did.  After about a five minute read of their site, I learned that Tinkergarten promoted guided play and letting children lead their own learning in a supportive environment all in an outdoor setting!  Not only that but Tinkergarten had yet to come to my city.  In fact, they were looking for leaders in my area!  I applied without a second thought.

Tinkergarten Training

After an extensive application/interview process, I was accepted and began an extensive training course. I loved their online learning platform and format.  The training combined self-paced reading and videos with live class chats via Zoom.  Through the training, I learned a lot about early childhood development for children 12 months – 5 years old.  Most of this information had been glossed over in my education classes in college.  There was also very interesting and relatively new research presented about learning schema that deserves it’s own post.  I was also pleasantly surprised that we learned quite a bit about adult development.  This knowledge about adult development really validated some of the feelings I was having as a new parent and a fairly new adult.

Teaching Tinkergarten

Once the training was complete I began by teaching free trial classes.  These were so awesome!  It was so fun to see the kids outside exploring things like mud, trees, dirt, grass, and sticks.  It was also great to see the parents interacting with their kids as they learned.  

I am now almost halfway through my first season and my class is really starting to feel like a family!  I am so excited for us to play with the “forest babies” we made last week!

Tinkergarten allows me to share my love of outdoors and my passion for self-guided learning in ways I never thought possible.   I am so proud to be part of the movement.  If you have a young explorer of your own check out classes near you.


What kind of exploring do you like to do with your kids?


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5 Replies to “Tinkergarten: Outdoor Adventure in the Big City”

  1. I’ve only just heard of this but I would love it for my kids!! We live in Arizona, so it’s hot during the summer and my kids get sad they can’t be outside!! Growing up in Oregon, there are so many places to go and do this!! Such a fantastic idea!!

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