PNC Tinkering for Tots

Preschool Program

Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

Special Event at Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation®

  • April 12, May 10, and June 14, 2022
  • Time: 10:30, 11:00, and 11:30 a.m.
  • Length: 20 minutes

Free with Museum admission.

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Join us for a 20 minute story time and field trip to the Artifact of The Day. Story times are hosted at 10:30, 11:00, and 11:30 in the Drive-In Studio


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 building an innovative mindset through storytelling, artifact exploration and take-home STEAM activities.

PNC Tinkering for Tots exploration and activities are based on 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.

Sign language interpretation can be scheduled for any tour, program or event with at least two weeks' advance notice. Shorter notice requests are accommodated if possible. To make arrangements, please contact our Call Center at 313.982.6001 or email accessibility@thehenryford.org.


Featured Events:


November 9: Challenge the Rules

Habit of the month: Challenge the Rules

  • What is a new way we can do something? Does something always have to look like that or work like that? How can we change it to make it work better?

Story: What are we reading?

  • If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen
  • Why we picked this book: It is an engaging story about imagination and challenging the rules. Readers are encouraged to think of all the wonderful things they would include in a car without limits.

Artifact of the day: Where are we going?

  • Location: Collecting Mobility
  • These three cars look at various ways you can challenge the rules by reimagining what a car looks like and what that helps it do. Today we will practice our skills of observation (what do we see that is different?).
    • 1993 Winged Sprint Car
    • 1989 Top Fuel Dragster
    • 2017 NAVYA Mcity shuttle

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December 14: Be Empathetic

Habit of the month: Be Empathetic

  • How would that make you feel? How do you think it makes another feel?

Story: What are we reading?

  • Let’s Celebrate! Special Days Around the World by Kate DePalma
  • Why we picked this book: Let’s Celebrate! encourages children to experience 13 holidays from around the world with lyrical prose and beautiful illustrations. Understanding how other cultures celebrate helps children be empathetic.

Artifact of the day: Where are we going?

  • Location: Clockworks and Holiday Pop-Up Display near the kitchens exhibit
  • We often use holidays and clocks to measure the year. Our young learners will look at a clock that keeps track of time, months of different lengths and even leap years. They will also explore our pop-up exhibit that shows how we celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa and New Year's with light and food.
    • Double Dial Calendar Shelf Clock
    • Holiday Pop-Up

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January 11: Stay Curious

Habit of the month: Stay Curious

  • Keep asking questions such as how and why; ask how you can help solve a problem and what is a new way to do something.

Story: What are we reading?

  • Inventors Who Changed the World by Heidi Poelman
  • Why we picked this book: The inventors in this book are not all the most common names, but their contributions have had great impact on the world. We want our littlest learners to be inspired to think of themselves as inventors and innovators, to see themselves in the stories of these great inventors.

Artifact of the Day: Where are we going?

  • Location: Agriculture and the Environment
  • George Washington Carver Microscope
    • Growing cotton had worn out the soil in the South by 1900, so George Washington Carver developed crops such as peanuts that would put nutrients back in the soil and could be sold for all kinds of uses. Carver stayed curious to find ways to help farmers.

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February 8: Challenge the Rules

Habit of the month: Challenge the Rules

  • Do we have to do this the same way or is there a better one? If an action is wrong, how can we help fix or change it? It’s OK to speak up when something is not right (or someone is not being treated fairly).

Story: What are we reading?

  • Courageous People Who Changed the World by Heidi Poelman
  • Why we picked this book: In celebrating Black History Month, we want to introduce our littlest learners to a variety of people who spoke up when they saw that something wrong was happening. They used their voices and writing to challenge the rules of society that were not fair and did not treat everyone equally.

Artifact of the Day: Where are we going?

  • Location: With Liberty and Justice for All
  • Martin Luther King Jr. on the covers of Ebony magazine
    • During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, no one was more influential than Martin Luther King Jr., and Ebony magazine featured him on the cover multiple times. On the walls of this exhibit, read his words, listen to him speak and watch videos of him in action.

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March 8: Be Empathetic

Habit of the month: Be Empathetic

  • How would that make you feel? How do you think it makes others feel?

Story: What are we reading?

  • One by Kathryn Otoshi
  • Why we picked this book: It only takes one person to make a difference, to take a stand, and then for others find their courage to also take a stand. For Women’s History Month, we chose to focus on one woman who took a stand that contributed to an entire movement toward achieving greater equality.

Artifact of the Day: Where are we going?

  • Location: With Liberty and Justice for All
  • Rosa Parks Bus
    • Rosa Parks, a soft-spoken African American seamstress, refused to give up her seat to a white man, breaking existing segregation laws in Alabama. The flawless character and quiet strength she exhibited successfully ignited action in others. For this, many believe Rosa Parks' act was the event that sparked the civil rights movement.

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April 12: Take Risks

Habit of the month: Take Risks

  • What if we try a different way? Let’s do this a new way. Let’s make something new.

Story: What are we reading?

  • What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada
  • Why we picked this book: Every idea, no matter how odd or how new, has the potential to be big. Sometimes an idea just needs time to grow and develop. This story encourages our young learners to continue to think big; you never know where your ideas might take us!

Artifact of the Day: Where are we going?

  • Location:The Gallery by General Motors
  • Apollo: When We Went to the Moon
    • Launch yourself behind the scenes for mankind’s first steps on the moon, and find out how the space race inspired generations of Americans to reach for the stars. The Apollo: When We Went to the Moon exhibition is an out-of-this-world glimpse into the cultural, technological and political context of the moon landing. Take small steps on the moon’s surface and giant leaps through actual pieces of the Apollo 11 lunar module. Count down at the command module, take off from an immersive launch experience and defy gravity for a photo in the lunar rover.

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May 10: Collaborate

Habit of the month: Collaborate

  • Work together; work as a team. Everyone helps; everyone’s ideas are listened to.

Story: What are we reading?

  • Melia and Jo by Billy Aronson
  • Why we picked this book: When we work together, anything is possible. This wonderful story illustrates how our differences can complement each other and we can accomplish so much more working together.

Artifact of the Day: Where are we going?

  • Location: Davidson-Gerson Modern Glass Gallery
  • “Sunset” by Binh Pho
    • May is Asian American Heritage Month so we’re going to highlight the story of an Asian American artist in our collection. Binh Pho is a Vietnamese American who trained as a woodturner. He applies those skills to his glass work, as can be seen in the intricate design here. His imagery reflects Asian culture and nature.

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June 14: Learn from Failure

Habit of the month: Learn from Failure

  • Try again; it’s OK to make a mistake and learn from it; practice until you can do it.

Story: What are we reading?

  • The Magical Yet by Angela DiTerlizzi
  • Why we picked this book:The book will help our young learners understand that everyone has things they haven’t learned to do yet and learn how to cope with difficult learning moments. The emphasis on turning a negative into a positive is a valuable lesson for all.

Artifact of the Day: Where are we going?

  • Location: Driving America
  • 2016 General Motors Self-Driving Test Vehicle
    • General Motors tested a series of autonomous vehicles based on the Chevy Bolt electric vehicle. These cars used a combination of cameras, radar and lidar (like radar only using light waves) sensors, cellular and GPS antennas, and powerful computers to drive themselves on public streets.

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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.

Ticket Prices

Parking is $9 per vehicle for nonmembers, free for members.

Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

    Member Non­member
Senior (62+) Free $24.25
General Admission (12-61) Free $27.00
Youth (5-11) Free $20.25
Children (4 & Under) Free Free

* Ticket prices are subject to change.