The Chicago Children's Museum (CCM) just opened a new Tinkering Lab, a unique space that they say is Chicago’s first DIY maker-space for families. The tag line is: Real tools. Real science. Really for kids! We got to check it out and photos from our visit are in the gallery below.
The Tinkering Lab is full of materials and encourages kids, armed with tools, to let their imaginations run wild. Inspired by the national Maker Movement, CCM has developed a unique experience and it is aimed at older kids. It had been a while since we had visited the CCM. My tween felt a bit gargantuan among all the little people in the museum, but was happier when she could use a power tool by herself. Going with a friend may make this more fun; they feel less out of place with someone their size along. Although this exhibit is for older kids, when we visited some of the younger visitors appeared to be having the best time.
I think my daughter would've appreciated some direction, but the unstructured space is designed to let the kids' own creativity be their guide. The CCM's website explains that the exhibits exists to give kids "the freedom to innovate and explore life outside those fancy computer and smartphone screens."
If you have a much younger child, there's space in the exhibit for them, too. The Early Learning Nook is a space designed specifically for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. I saw a lot of little ones really get into the Pegboard Challenge, too.
A tip for visiting the CCM with older kids: check out the Kraft Artabounds Studio on the bottom level which features art projects that are fun for all age levels, but note that the programs there often do not start until the afternoon.
Disclaimer: My tween and I received complimentary tickets from the CCM to check out The Tinkering Lab. All opinions are our own.
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