Tinkergarten brings early childhood education to a park near you. In our classes, kids enjoy the freedom of independent exploration through well-designed play-based activities that lend from the best of research and best practice to promote the development of critical capabilities, including self reliance, creativity, persistence and problem solving. Tinkergarten classes are led by a trained, certified community of leaders — often parents — who bring a healthy, social, and engaging learning experience to their community.
Tinkergarten was founded in 2012 by Brian and Meghan Fitzgerald.
After 16 years as an educator, curriculum developer and school leader, Meghan has her dream gig—an entrepreneur/educator/mom who helps families everywhere, including hers, learn outside. Prior to Tinkergarten®, Meghan worked as an Elementary School Principal, a Math/Science Specialist & and a teacher in public and private schools in NY, MA and CA. She earned a BA with majors in English and Psychology at Amherst College, an MS in Educational Leadership at Bank Street College, and was trained as a Forest School leader at Bridgwater College, UK. When she is with her kids, Meghan is that unapologetic mom who plays along with them in mud, dances in the pouring rain, and builds a darn good snow igloo with her bare hands.
Brian has been developing consumer digital products and businesses since 1995 with a focus on education technology in recent years. Before starting Tinkergarten®, he was VP of Product Development at Knewton, and prior to that VP/Intrapreneur of Audible Education (acquired by Amazon.com). Brian was on the start up team that developed Rocketmail (acquired by Yahoo), and he later launched 50+ Yahoo consumer apps in leadership roles at the Silicon Valley HQ and London. He earned a BA in Entrepreneurship at Babson College and an MA at Columbia Teacher’s College. If Brian goes missing you’ll probably find him outside trail running, swimming in water of any temperature, or making his kids giggle into the wind as he pulls them in their chariot on his bike.
Learn more about the inspiration for Tinkergarten in How a Side Project Became an Obsession
Tinkergarten’s expert-designed curriculum helps kids ages 1-8 years old develop, grow, and gain confidence, while they enjoy fun, engaging experiences in the physical freedom of their local green space. Classes take place once/week and run in sessions of varying length, from one to twelve weeks.
Each Tinkergarten class is about one hour long and takes place in a local park. A leader guides the group of children and parents through one or more activities that fit to a progressive curriculum, each of which develop skills that are critical to early childhood development. The activities focus on outdoor play, including creative use of natural resources.
Parents can find a local class in their area, nominate, or apply to become a leader at Tinkergarten.com. In addition, a DIY version of every activity is free on the site, completed with how-to instructions and an explanation of the developmental benefits of each.
“Research shows the links between play and foundational capacities such as memory, self-regulation, oral language abilities, social skills, and success in school.”
“Time in nature is not leisure time; it's an essential investment in our chidlren's health (and also, by the way, in our own).”
“Exploration and play during early childhood turns into adults who are flexible and sophisticated thinkers.”