Are you ready to build forts, discover new lands, hunt for fairy houses and make mud pies? A brand new series of classes, called Tinkergarten, is set to make its debut in Portland with one mission – to connect families and children with the joy of the great outdoors. Below is the scoop about what it is and why you’ll want to sign up your little ones immediately.

Tinkergarten 5photo: Tinkergarten facebook page

What Is Tinkergarten? 

Tinkergarten is not your typical kids’ activity class. The program, for kids 18 months to five years and an adult, takes a thoughtfully-planned, flexible curriculum and tailors it to fit the ages, geographic location and season of each class. Rain or shine, each Tinkergarten class is held in a park or green space in your local community– the perfect outdoor classroom.

During classes, young explorers will learn leadership, problem solving, independence, risk taking, persistence and more through thoughtfully designed guided play. They will come nose to nose with nature, make wonderous discoveries, and just the right amount of getting dirty.

Tinkergarten 3photo: Tinkergarten via Facebook

A Typical Tinkergarten Day

You will leave your roles as caregiver and child behind and become Guides and Explorers. You meet your Leader at your classroom– the Tinkergarten signature blue tarp spread out on the grass. Class begins with a welcome activity, such as collecting materials or setting the stage for the day’s adventure.

Guides and Explorers then join the Leader for circle time, which begins with songs and rhymes and then launches the day’s activity. Next comes the heart of the class, where participants are transported into many worlds– from making magic potions, building an outdoor kitchen, becoming kings and queens of the forest who dance a wild rumpus, to making stone soup, homemade paint from natural materials and all the possibilities when exploring with mud. Everyone’s imaginations come back in for a landing at a closing circle and a snack time spent together.

Tinkergarten 1photo: Tinkergarten via Facebook

Ready to Tinker?

The inaugural Fall season in Portland will have three 6-week adventure sessions available for you to hop on board starting late September.

Want a chance to test out this amazing new experience before registering for a class? Local leaders will give you a taste of Tinkergarten at various events held before the class start date. Online registration is required for free events as well as classes.

Tinkergarten 4photo: Tinkergarten via Facebook


Beaverton- Cedar Mill
Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m., class begins Sept. 24th
6-week session: $120
Taste of Tinkergarten #1: Thurs. Aug. 27th 9:30 a.m.-11a.m., Free
Taste of Tinkergarten #2: Thurs. Sept. 10th 9:30 a.m.-11a.m., Free

Cedar Mill Park
10265 NW Cornell Rd.

Portland- Multnomah
Fridays, 9:30 a.m.-11 a.m., class begins Sept. 25th
6-week session: $150
Taste of Tinkergarten #1: Fri. Aug. 28th 9:30 a.m.-11 a.m., Free
Taste of Tinkergarten #2: Fri. Sept. 11th 9:30 a.m.-11 a.m., Free

Gabriel Park
SW Vermont St. and SW 37th St.

Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m., class begins Sept. 26th
6-week session: $120
Taste of Tinkergarten #1: Sat. Aug. 29th 9:30 a.m.-11 a.m., Free
Taste of Tinkergarten #2: Sat. Sept. 12th 9:30a.m.-10:30 a.m., Free

Summerlake City Park
11450 SW Winter Lake Dr.

Tinkergarten 2photo: Tinkergarten via Facebook

What do you like to do outdoors with your little explorers? Let us know in the comments below!

—Stacy Coplin