PNC Tinkering for Tots

Preschool Program

Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

Special Event at Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation®

  • March 11, April 8, May 13, 2021
  • Time: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Free with Museum admission.

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Little learners get a head full of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) with our contactless special programming. Designed for curious preschoolers, our inspired yet playful activities focus on themed materials and then expand outward with storytelling, artifact exploration and take-home crafts.

PNC Tinkering for Tots activities are based in material science using the frame of “compare, contrast and combine,” along with The Henry Ford’s innovation learning framework, Model i.

These activities combine a number of national standards for preschool curriculum as defined by the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning, and the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework.  

Use our Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation Map to help you navigate through the museum while following new guidelines for a safe and enjoyable visit.

Featured Events:


March 11: Stay Curious

This month we will learn about the Model i Habits of an Innovator and explore some of the awesome innovations that were made by people who Stay Curious.

Exploration Activities:
While exploring Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, search for innovations that showcase innovators who stayed curious.
  1. Allegheny Steam Locomotive – Railroads
    - Explore how curious engineers worked together to design a locomotive big enough and strong enough to pull 160 loaded hoppers of coal from the Allegheny Mountains.
  2. Sperry-New Holland Combine – Agriculture
    - Farmers are always trying out new ways to improve their crops. Visit the Sperry-New Holland Combine to learn how this innovation helps farmers.
Inspiring Stories
William Clay Ford Plaza of Innovation 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Join our storyteller for book readings that will inspire your Tinkering Tot to stay curious. Today's featured story is I Am Amelia Earhart (Ordinary People Change the World) by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos.

Artifact of the Day
Amelia Earhart Brand Blouse Heroes of the Sky 
Even as a child, Amelia Earhart was curious. This natural curiosity drove her to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic and inspired her to launch her own fashion line in 1934.

Take-Home Activity
William Clay Ford Plaza of Innovation: Create a chenille stick spider and web using a take-home STEAM activity kit.


April 8: Be Empathetic

This month we will learn about the Model i Habits of an Innovator and explore some of the awesome innovations that were made by people who practiced Be Empathetic.

Exploration Activities:
While exploring Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, search for innovations that showcase innovators who were empathetic.
  1. Lincoln Presidential Limousine Presidential Vehicles
    - This was the first car expressly built for a president. It is extra-long to accommodate the president wheelchair and to make it easier to lift President Roosevelt in and out, because his legs had become paralyzed from polio.
  2. Dymaxion House near Your Place in Time
    - Built in days and priced to cost no more than a 1940s luxury sedan, Bucky Fuller's house was hailed as an inexpensive solution to the postwar American housing shortage.
Inspiring Stories
William Clay Ford Plaza of Innovation 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Join our storyteller for book readings that will inspire your Tinkering Tot to be empathetic. Today's featured story is What Does It Mean to Be Green by Rana DiOrio, illustrated by Chris Blair.

Artifact of the Day
1997 General Motors EV1 Electric Coupe Driving America 
As concern about air pollution grew at the end of the 20th century, this car, built by General Motors, was the first real attempt at an all-purpose electric car since the 1920s. Caring for the environment is an important part of innovation.

Take-Home Activity
William Clay Ford Plaza of Innovation: Create a paper crown from recycled materials using a take-home STEAM activity kit.


May 13: Stay Curious

This month we will learn about one of the Model i Habits of an Innovator and explore some of the awesome innovations in auto racing that came from people who Stay Curious.

Exploration Activities:
Search our newest permanent exhibit Driven to Win: Racing in America Presented by General Motors for artifacts that showcase innovators who stayed curious by never giving up and always asking questions.
  1. 2016 Ford GT:
    - A team of engineers created this car to race as hard as possible for 24 hours straight. Find out how designers developed its special shape for speed and endurance.
  2. 1958 Moore Unser:
    - Racing hero Bobby Unser drove this car to victory seven times in the famous Pikes Peak Hill Climb race. Find out how his team kept experimenting until they found the best combination of materials to win.
Inspiring Stories
William Clay Ford Plaza of Innovation – 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Join our storyteller for a reading that will inspire your Tinkering Tot to use their imagination and stay curious. This month’s featured story is Vroom!,  written and illustrated by Barbara McClintock.

Artifact of the Day: 1901 Ford Sweepstakes
Henry Ford’s first race car might not look so speedy today, but it went over 70 mph during a time when most cars topped out around 20 mph. Practice staying curious by thinking about what makes this car so different from the ones you’re used to.

Take-Home Activity
William Clay Ford Plaza of Innovation: Create a plastic spoon ant or beaded necklace using this take-home STEAM activity kit.



Members Visit Free

Become a member for free admission to PNC Tinkering for Tots, plus free admission to the museum and village all year long. Not a member yet? Learn more or join today.

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Ticket Prices

Parking is $6 per vehicle for nonmembers, free for members.

Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

    Member Non­member
Senior (62+) Free $22.50
General Admission (12-61) Free $25.00
Youth (5-11) Free $18.75
Children (4 & Under) Free Free

* Ticket prices are subject to change.