May 7, 2023

A Kids' Tinkering Kit

For Soren's birthday (over a month ago--this post is long overdue), I thought that turning six was a perfect time to give him his own tinkering kit, with "real" tools.
It would be a box of items that he will hopefully use for tinkering and building, especially that he is so drawn to that kind of creative play (um, Legos anyone?).
Here he is above, working in his "construction site."  Though you can't see them (they're buried or out of frame), he's repurposed a lot of old bricks, pipes and wood scraps to build tunnels and other things.  I had all intentions on taking him to the Maker Faire when it came to town last month, but unfortunately we had family obligations.

Speaking of family, I have fond memories of my Pap Pap and his barn/woodshop filled with all kinds of interesting and odd items that he used in carpentry and other projects.  It was always fascinating imagining what some of those items might be used for.   An old bicycle seat?  It could have make a fantastic head for a garden sculpture.

Though we don't have an extensive collection of oddities like my Pap Pap, I wanted to make a little tinkering kit that Soren would hopefully use for his own projects and creations.
We already had a set of kids tools, purchased at Home Depot a few years ago, so all we needed was a place to store them as well as some odds and ends to encourage tinkering.

I bought a toolbox online and decorated it with stickers I picked up at the Dollar Tree.
It's a roomy tool box, and sturdy too, as it's made of metal.  The top tray isn't too big, but it holds enough.

I also added a hand drill and drill bits, which is a safer way for him to make holes in wood and other materials (hopefully no furniture!).
I found a lot of other odds and ends at the dollar store, like zip ties, binder clips, and cotton string.
It's something that I'm sure we'll add to in the future, depending on things that interest him.

Here's a list of some of the items to get you started on putting together a tinkering box for kids
  • twine, jute or other strings with a variety of thicknesses
  • zip ties
  • wire
  • binder clips
  • tweezers 
  • padlocks
  • hammer
  • wrench
  • screwdrivers
  • pliers
  • hand drill and bits
  • tape measure 
  • scissors
  • bungee cords
  • apron
  • tapes of various weights and sizes (masking, invisible tape, duct tape)
  • ruler
  • sandpaper
  • plastic caps from bottles
  • balsa wood pieces
The list goes on and on, and of course your child's interests will determine what's in the box.  What might you add to this list?

And as for the box, you could get a fancy, sturdy tool box or just use a plastic tote, canvas bag, shoe box or other storage container.  The point is to have a go-to place for your child to find materials when inspiration calls.  I have hope that this tinkering kit will help my son re-imagine and remake his world!


  1. How cute! I love how you personalized the box.

  2. Love this. No reason little kids shouldn't learn how to use real tools properly. How else will they know how to be safe with them?

  3. I need to add to my kids tool kit and let them have fun tinkering

    1. Thanks! I think my son will continue to enjoy this as he grows up. And I hope to keep adding to it.

  4. I love this. Looks like the perfect Christmas gift! I have a son and a daughter who are both very creative and make things all the time using a combination of supplies in our craft area and items found in nature. A bow using a long thick stick and elastic, with arrows made of small sticks, a sling shot using a small wish bone shaped stick and elastic. BUT a drill? I am excited at the thought of buying them a hand drill. I just wonder, does he really use it? And what for exactly? Before I buy one, I want to know what kinds of things a child would use a drill for. I'm intrigued!

    1. My son mostly "tinkers" with it, drilling into hunks of scrap wood. He built a ramshackle little fort for some of his action figures and has tied pieces of wood together through holes he's drilled in other pieces. I supervise him, but so far he's doing fine with it. For under 20 bucks, it was a good purchase, and I can even use it for little things around the house.

  5. What a wonderful collection of things. I have a five and a half year old who is very rarely without some Legos. This is something to consider. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Cathy! It's been a hit so far, and I like that it fosters independence in my son. When he has a creative problem to solve, he goes right to his kit to find something to use.

  6. I would add safety glasses. I have two boys and both had close calls, too close for mom's comfort. Safety glasses are a must.

    1. Ah, yes, totally forgot to include those. Thankfully we do have a kids pair from another tool kit--I just have to find them.

  7. Just emailed you, Kathleen! I'm a freelance writer who'd love to interview you about this for Scholastic: Parent & Child. Hope to hear from you.

  8. What a fabulous idea! Thank you for sharing it!

  9. This is a fantastic idea! I love the selection of tools you put together, and the customized tool box is a perfect way to wrap it. I think this would make a great gift for my 10-y-o daughter and my girlfriends 11-m-o son. Thanks for sharing your idea!

  10. this is absolutely perfect! What a novel idea! Thank you for sharing, I must definitely will be adding this one of my son's 3 presents this Christmas!!

  11. You are a very smart mom. I love this idea! Way to go :)

  12. You are a very smart mom. I love this idea! Way to go :)


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