Many parents might remember — fondly or not — the days when their own parents told them to go outside and play for hours at a time.
In a world where kids’ free time is often taken up by packed schedules of after-school activities, overprotective parents and, of course, the TV, fewer kids than ever are able to simply go out and play in the backyard. As concerns over childhood obesity grow, it’s clear that millions of young children aren’t as active as they should be.
A new startup, called Tinkergarten, aims to change all this by using technology to encourage young children to play outside — and it’s already brought in more than half a million dollars in funding from investors.
According to TechCrunch, Tinkergarten is a platform that employs a network of teachers to offer outdoor learning classes focused around play. Through fun, hands-on activities, these classes encourage independent problem-solving as well as social activity.
In one class, a teacher might tell the kids they’re going to make mud pies — but that she forgot the mud. Then she’d encourage the kids to brainstorm together on how to “make” mud by mixing water with dirt at the park. In another class, kids might make art projects using leaves and berries they find outdoors.
Most of Tinkergarten’s classes are geared toward younger children and toddlers, with kids as young as 18 months able to take part in a class. Its developers are working to strengthen its curriculum to include children up to eight years old,TechCrunch reports.
Currently, Tinkergarten has 30 class leaders offering classes throughout the greater New York City area. Classes take place at public parks, campground locations and other green areas. Eventually, the company hopes to expand its platform nationwide.
For the parents themselves, Tinkergarten offers a safe and fun way to encourage a lifetime of learning and outdoor exploration for their kids.