Smiles on children’s faces. Buy-in from parents. Passionate volunteers. Encouraging support from the preschool teachers’ community.
Here’s a peek at what Project Tinker Kit has achieved so far. Launched by Preschool Market in July this year, the project gave children from less privileged backgrounds a Tinker Kit each, which is a creative toolbox with materials to encourage expression and imagination through art and craft.
Tinker Kit Sessions @ Le Kottage
In early August, we sent out invitations for a Tinker Kit + Lunch session to the children of Le Kottage Childcare Centre in Woodlands. These are children aged 4-6, attending N2, K1 and K2 classes. On the big day itself, 15 August 2015, volunteers and teachers decorated the classroom and arranged the tables and chairs carefully to create a conducive environment for parent-child bonding, a primary objective of Project Tinker Kit. The facilitators also have been trained to ensure that the key objectives such as encouraging parent-child bonding and free expression of children would be met.
At around 10am, parents and children started to stream in and we were delighted to see about 40 children present for the session. Each child received a Tinker Kit, specially created and designed to allow him/her free and imaginative expression through craft work by using the materials provided in the kit. We observed the parents and their children excitedly pulling out item by item and the children whispering to their parents what they could do with the craft materials. The latter simply could not wait to get started on the activities with the Tinker Kit materials.
The Activities Guide provided gave them step-by-step instructions on creating simple-to-make craft works and play activities. It should be noted that many of these activities were sourced from the Science of Play website, with contributions from the local preschool teachers community.
All said, it was heartwarming watching parents, children, volunteers and teachers coming together to guide children through play.
Preschool Market conducted a Follow-Up Session with the Le Kottage children on 17 October. This time around, there was a short sharing by Zhen Xin - Co-founder of Preschool Market to show parents how recycled materials at home could be used for craft activities as well. We were also very pleased to learn that the school had meanwhile set up a Craft Corner with the Tinker Kits. It would devote some time each day to a craft session with the children and the teachers said they found the materials extremely useful for learning purposes. For the Follow-Up Session, more activities were added to the Guide and more materials included in the kit. These activities were specially crafted to encourage parent-child bonding as they could not be completed by the child alone.
Throughout the two sessions, the children were given the choice ‑ and greatly encouraged ‑ to make whatever crafts they wished. We could not help but notice that parents and children were therefore conversing with each other more frequently. The most important element to us – and, indeed, the teachers ‑ was that the children were having fun, and loving it! You know, by the pride on their faces as they held up their finished products!
Preschool Market plans to hold another Follow-Up session with the children this month, a get-together for Christmas. Stay tuned…
Tinker Kit @ Ang Mo Kio FSC
With the help of Ang Mo Kio FSC, Preschool Market presented Tinker Kits to some lower-income families in Ang Mo Kio. The families received us warmly as we entered their homes to do craft work together. The facilitators explained the importance of parent-child bonding and how the relationship could be enhanced through craft activities. We were heartened to learn that many of the families continued with more craft work from the Activities Guide even after we left.
There will be two more Follow-Up sessions with these families in the coming months. To date, we have reached out to about 60 children. We hope to enrol more families in this programme to help parents better understand early childhood development and be encouraged to incorporate learning and discovery into their preschoolers’ everyday tasks and activities.
Tell us if you have ideas and craft activities to share.
Tell us if you would like to volunteer with us!