Subscribe for 33¢ / day

CARBONDALE — A new experience for young children in Southern Illinois gives them an opportunity to exercise their creativity while getting in touch with nature at the same time.

Tinkergarten is made up of a technology-enabled network of leaders that bring families together in a natural place in their community for classes where children learning through playing. On Saturday, Tinkergarten leader Trisha Revelle led a trial class at Evergreen Park. There will also be classes in Carterville at Cannon Park.

The class started with an opening activity. Each child received a metal bucket and were instructed to find something interesting at the park. They could fill it up with whatever they desired.

Revelle said this was a chance for the child to adjust to the setting and gives them some freedom to roam around the area. After the children selected their items, they reconvene in a community circle which includes important rhymes and ritual that build the child’s brain and body development, Revelle said.

After the circle starts the launch portion of the classes. This is where the children really started use their imagination. Revelle said she planned to act out a story and then have the children repeat the story through guided learning.

The class encourages the children to move by spinning their bodies and arms, helping with motor development and spatial awareness. The children are never told exactly how to do something, Revelle said. The leader is there to lead, but the class is about the child learning in their way.

“Once thing that Tinkergarten believes is, let the child lead and embrace the lulls,” Revelle said. “Those moments where they are bored, those are the moments when they really discover or investigate, and they need a bit more time for that.

“In this day and age, life is so fast paced and children sometimes forget to learn how to play and play to learn.”

According to Revelle, the mission is to elevate childhood and get kids learning in nature. It also helps parents to facilitate child-led, play-based learning.

“Kids are so attached to their screens they don’t have those moments of boredom anymore,” she said. “They have the freedom to get messy and use their bodies instead of staring at a screen.”

The classes in Carbondale and Carterville get started officially on April 21. The Carbondale class begins at 10:45 a.m. and the class in Carterville is at 4 p.m. There is still space available in each class. The cost is $17.50 per class, which goes toward materials, training for leaders and developing the curriculum. Each class is about an hour and 15 minutes.

Interested parents can sign their children up online at


on twitter: @zd2000


Dustin Duncan is a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering Carbondale.

Load comments