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Magical lessons in nature at Tinkergarten



KULPMONT — Children are able to learn and grow while surrounded by nature through a program beginning trials in Kulpmont called Tinkergarten.

Tinkergarten was founded in 2012 and exists in 49 states to connect children 8-months to eight-years in age with play-based classes held in local parks and green spaces.

On April 10, Kulpmont council approved a request from Toni Ditzler, of Marion Heights, to use Veterans Memorial Park to host the program, which is currently holding free trials.

Tinkergarten uses creative lessons to help build skill sets in children during the most developmental period of their lives, Ditzler said.

“They’re playing the entire time and don’t feel like they’re learning, and it’s a better learning experience because they’ll have the memories to look back on. The activities are so fun that they continue doing them at home and refining and building skills that way,” she said.

The free trials will engage children by making stone soup and petal potion. Ditzler explained stone soup comes with a “beautiful story” about sharing and community, and the kids get to engage by making the soup during class. It’s then served for a community feast before being given back to nature.

Petal potion allows kids to use whatever they want in nature to create a magic potion that turns them into any animal they want. Potions can contain a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but take a lot of creativity and imagination while the adults support each child in their vision.

The activities the class offers are all focused on building on imagination, and Ditzler said it brings a little bit of that magical spirit kids love.

To become a Tinkergarten leader, Ditzler took part in a four-week training which touched on child development and psychology and adult development.

“Adult development was exciting because we are still growing and learning as people and even though this is very much for children, it really does give parents the little extra support they might need,” said Ditzler.

Speaking as a parent, Ditzler said she’s very passionate about the way Tinkergarten looks at children and the way the program gives kids the respect they deserve.

She said, “Too often they’re treated like they don’t know what they need or don’t know how to do something, and Tinkergarten is giving them an experience they may not be getting in their home life and parents are getting to see just what their kids can do.”

Since participating, she said she’s noticed she’s become a more compassionate parent with her own children, watching them learn, problem solve and do activities she didn’t think they would be able to pick up on. Now she’s able to step back and just provide pointers rather than over-explaining to her children how to do activities.

Her goal is to get the spring season off the ground now that the use of Veterans Memorial Field has been approved. She’s also reached out to Zerbe Township supervisors in hopes to hold additional classes at the Foundry.

For interested parents, more information on Tinkergarten, including free trial dates, can be found by visiting www.tinkergarten.com. Kids must be enrolled due to a 15 child limit on trial lessons.

Parents can sign up for the eight-session full Tinkergarten season through the website for a cost of $140. There is maximum of 12 children for each class.