Activity for the Little Engineer

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I am a strong supporter of natural curiosity and exploration. This activity is always a favorite and does both of those things!

Last year my son desperately wanted his own tools – he didn’t want to borrow Dad’s. We found a small set on clearance after the holidays and he’s used it a lot throughout the year. One of the things he loves to do is take things apart. There is such a huge draw to deconstructing things to see how they are made and what makes them work.

Obviously this activity can be very dangerous and should always be supervised by an adult (my husband likes taking things apart as much as my boys). Make sure whatever you’re talking apart has no power (plugs, batteries etc). Be careful of sharp objects, pinching, pulling, tiny parts etc.

I found an old broken lens in a box the other day and let the boys check it out.

They were in awe of the electronic components, plastic gears and how many tiny screws were involved.

They do make Snap Circuts and Snap Circuts Jr as a safe way to explore but it’s just not the same as taking apart a real object which is why I still love this (adult supervised) activity.

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Allison Waken is a wife, mom of boys and Phoenix, AZ native. She has been creating inspiring content for All for the Boys since 2011. Allison loves travel, movies and spending as much time as possible with her family while she can!


  1. Oh fun idea to look inside a lens. Our boys have taken apart a vhs machine before but I should look out for more gadgets. Nice idea for your boy to have his own tools too. I'm sure mine would love that.

  2. justwondering Reply

    Wouldn't it be cool if we could imagine that girls would be interested in this sort of thing too? I get that there's a lot of "girl"-centric craft/activity ideas out there but instead of responding by further reinforcing gender norms, why not just create a site with ideas that ANY kids might like?

  3. Are there not heaps of sites which cater to boys AND girls already? I love that this site is boy focussed. Keep it up!

  4. All for the Boys Reply

    @justwondering (I always email responses but you didn't leave an email) we absolutely do not believe that girls AREN'T interested in anything we post – you'll see a "girls welcome!" note on the right and a lot of our regular readers are moms of girls. It's a site I started for me to post things that would be inspiring to my boys or as I refer to them "the boys". I don't have girls myself and found myself searching the internet for things like "activities for boys" "crafts boys would like" etc. and to this day it's where most of my traffic comes from. In no way do we believe or promote that ONLY boys would appreciate our ideas. I hope that helps you understand a bit more where we're coming from!

  5. I am a mother who programmed computers and soldered things after school when I was a kid. I absolutely do not believe in limiting my girl's opportunities. However, I think girls get a lot of attention (even in terms of retail space — at many department stores, the boy section is about one rack!), so I am happy to see ideas for boys, and I do also extend what may be "boyish" activity opportunities to my daughter whenever she is interested. I think a lot of "boyish" activities give opportunities for informal learning of scientific concepts. I give such activities a gender neutral spin when presenting them to my own kids, but I love the ideas and the ways to direct boys to positive activities. My girl likes this stuff. Still, it is nice to see a site that promotes an appreciation of the charms of boys and boyishness. Sometimes boys are a bit hard to understand.

  6. Thanks for sharing and reinforcing the concept of encouraging curiosity.
    Also, as a mom of 3 boys, I absolutely love this site because it has a wealth of activities that are usually boy-ish. I love to promote crafting in my home, but most crafts I like do indeed need a little "spin" to get the boys interested.
    I don't want to wade through princess, barbie or my little pony/critter/dolly crafts to get an idea for my boys. I would love to be doing those crafts but the reality is…my boys aren't interested in princesses/barbies or any type of dolly.
    They will however have a tea party with me (there is usually lots of treats!) and so far they've loved all the ideas I've been inspired to try from off your site.
    Thank you!

  7. Do your boys have the book, ” things come apart…50 disassembled objects in 21,959 parts” by Todd McClellan ? They might like it. Also after they deconstruct do they ever want to reconstruct? they might enjoy rebuilding it or reconstructing not the object itself but the pieces into a composition to photograph or create art, names/ words , or other construction from all the loose parts…., so great that they love this, been wanting to do this at my school and with my four kids , 2 boys , 2 girls.

    • They don’t! Thank you so much for the recommendation! They do play with rebuilding the pieces after, but never for an art piece – great idea!

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