homedepot chicago

Down at the Creek! Rhythms and Rafts

Posted: June 23rd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

This Thursday we hit our stride at Tinkering School Chicago.   We have become familar with how the days will go and got in a real rhythm with each other.  We all move as a group.  We work together to get the next step of the project done, to get ready for the next activity, and to make the most fun humanly possible.

We started off  the day with pancakes.  Then we headed down to the creek, as we have each day.  We have claimed a 250 yard stretch of creek as our home-base.  We explore north and south occasionally, but with all our supplies (water, snacks, and tools) all in one central location we have been able to really dig in!  The list of things we do down in the creek continues to grow, and more and more we find ourselves exploring new notions.

Today we mounded two huge piles of sand and began to sculpt them. We hung up a new swing.  We worked on the mud slide.  Skipped stones, and found ways to truly enjoy ourselves, work together, and make the most of our time at camp.

Just like yesterday the raft building kicked into full gear right after lunch.  We worked at camp for a while before we decided to head down to the swimming hole with our tools and work there.  This not only let us cool down, but also offered the chance to make adjustments to our rafts as flaws in design were revealed.



Building Experience TSC June 22

Posted: June 22nd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Camp | No Comments »

This morning as we walked to the creek there was a palpable excitment.   Everyone was well aware that the mudslide idea from yesterday was a revelation.    We slowly began to realize the implications of the fact that we could sculpt and shape the mud walls of the creek to make our slide down even more thrilling!

When we arrived we got straight to work.  With shovels and pails as our tools we used the clay, sand and mud to build a path way up one side and a smooth, slick slide on the other.   We attached a rope to the top of the bank and then to the otherside of the creek so that we could pull ourselves up, but it didn’t see much use as a set of stairs began to take shape.   The stairs needed to be constantly reworked as the foot traffic took its toll on them.  We decided not to use anything more substanial for our stairs or for molding our slide as it is quite exciting taking all the spills and slips climbing and sliding down a muddy embankment, and we didn’t want anything solid to be in the way.

The work is intuitive and fluid, but also a bit distracted by the fact that someone is always wanting to take the next turn.   We all get muddy and elated and still have to work together to solidify ideas and make sure we have plenty of space to work and to slide.

Check out some photos from the day on our Facebook page.

Obligitory Puppy Picture


Blissful days!

Posted: June 22nd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Today, we experienced the innate bliss that comes along with being a kid, having some good friends, a hot summer day and a creek to play in.

This years big project, is the creek.  We have a wealth of natural materials down there to build with, and we spent the entire morning exploring the possibilities (primarily clay, sand, rocks, and sticks).

Typically, at camp we take time to explore the creek bed, but this time we are taking it to the next level.  We brought down shovels, pails, rope and everything we need to spend the whole morning exploring how we build with what is already there.  Naturally the tinkerers came up with a solid billion ideas, and after several damns and bridges, swings and minnow catchers, we had a wealth of notions but still no definitive plan.  And then suddenly we working on a MUD-SLIDE!  Woo-hoo-ing!

Tonight as we sat around the camp fire and recalled all the things we had built through-out the day, I saw several light bulbs going off in the tinkerer’s heads.  I am looking forward to what tomorrow brings, when we will all work together to build big!

See photos from our day here! photos.


First Day of Summer, First Day of Camp

Posted: June 20th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Camp | No Comments »







The summer solstice is upon us!  The first day of summer camp was marked by perfect summer weather.  It was hot, but there was a breeze and some big billowy clouds.

As soon as we got the campers settled into their tents, they started exploring and making friends.  It is a great sight, to see young minds, perked up by the exciting week we have ahead.


We put tools in our hands right away and built a beautiful bench.  We will finish the second one tomorrow, because we had to head down to the creek to cool off and do some exploring.  Actually, we did 645,239 things down at the creek.  I suppose exploring is a simplified term for doing all the things we will do (and particularly young people) when we find ourselves in intriguing settings. We skipped stones, caught minnows, chased tad poles, climbed trees, examined all the rocks, dug in the sand, cooled off and in general did all the good things to be done.

After the creek, we slowly sauntered back to the camp site to get ready for dinner.   The spaghetti was delicious, but it got completely outshined by playing with the puppies.  They are eight weeks old and there are four of them, and they are about as good and happy as it gets.  It is gonna be a fantastic week of summer fun.   We will have many more stories to tell tomorrow!






From Rain Delay to a perfect Hooooooooray!~

Posted: June 26th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Camp | No Comments »

After an all night thunder storm we woke up, had pancakes, and waited for the rain to clear.  It finally did about 11 o’clock and we ran back to the camp-site and got back to work.  The rain made more mud, and our mini-golf course needed some repair.  We tested over and over again and tweaked this and that until most of the kinks were worked out.  Then we went to task: trying to combine our two courses and  expand the last run.

Check out the video of the golf ball rolling down and around and through and awesome.  Click Here!






After we felt good and accomplished with our work we had a late lunch.  We took some time to digest and then headed over to swim, launch some water balloons, have a pizza party, and play.  We finished off the last night of camp with some reflection around the fire.  We all agreed that we had accomplished some wonderful things over the past week and had a ton of fun.






Mud Day!

Posted: June 25th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Camp | No Comments »

We started out this day with a thunder-storm.  After it passed we went out and worked on our putt-putt hole in one magic golf course until the next storm came through.  After the second storm passed we got back to work.  We made good progress and can see the next steps vividly.  Weather permitting our golf course/ball run will become sturdier, longer, and more detailed by lunch time tomorrow.

After the thunder passed we made our way down to the creek.  We hung up a swing, dipped our feet in the water, and eventually became fully enthralled by the mud wall.  The wall quickly became a mud slide, and we woohoooed! all the way up until dinner time!


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Quick Video Here

Putt-Putt and Paddles

Posted: June 24th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Camp | No Comments »

Our putt-putt golf course has proven to be a perfectly playful project.  The tinkerers have had ample chance to build, rebuild, test, retest, tinker, recalculate, and work through a variety of rich problems.

We can’t wait to get back to it in the morning.

*(If these videos are not displaying properly,  open them in a new tab by right clicking on the frame (and choosing from the drop down menu))

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We also found sometime for clay explorations this morning.  Some wonderful little creations were molded from the clay from the creek.








We spent the afternoon by the water.  We all took a turn paddling around in the canoe,  sprinting down the hill  and diving into the water, skipping stones (we collected from the creek yesterday), netting minnows, and playing games.

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Build, Play, Explore!

Posted: June 23rd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Camp | No Comments »

We did it today.  We built with focus, imagination, and persistence all through the morning. We played in the creek, explored, noticed all the lovely little creatures, went to the top of every climb-able tree, skipped stones, swam, played games, hiked, built dams, stacked rocks, etc.

It truly was a fantastic day.  The weather was cool in the morning, which was ideal for building.  As the day warmed up we moved into the creek.  We came back to the house for a nice leisurely dinner, played some games, and got into some more tinkering (with little toy motors).  We finished off the day singing songs around the camp fire, drawing, whittling, and recalling the fantastic day we spent together.


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*Tomorrow we will officially unveil our magnificent hole in one miniature golf course.  We made great progress today, and with a good work session tomorrow we should have a most excellent video to share by the end of the day.


Summer Time!

Posted: June 22nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Camp | No Comments »


We kicked off this week of camp  with some warm summer weather.  When the campers arrived they explored the camp-site and the creek.  Then we introduced this weeks big project.

We are going to build the world’s longest hole in one miniature golf hole.  We started exploring the materials and made some outlandish plans.  Tomorrow we have the big fun of sorting out our ideas and trying to implement them.

After we got a good start on the project we had a cook-out and went over to the swimming hole to cool off.   We sauntered back to camp tired and laughing from a great first day.










Rain Dance

Posted: June 18th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Camp | No Comments »

We woke up to a wet world once again.  It rained all week and we danced right through it.  The resiliency of the tinkerers shone through over and over as we had maximum levels of fun and productivity despite the angry weather gods.

Today we started off slow, but found our stride riding up and down on the enormous teeter-totter (*now named Tinker Totter).  We discussed how we built it, and recalled all the obstacles we overcame to get there.

We had a nice long swim today as well.  The rain let up just long enough for us to truly enjoy splashing around.  After lunch the rain returned and we did the only thing we knew to do: go out and play in it!  We painted in the rain, it washed away, and we painted more.  Exquisite!


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