PNC Tinkering for Tots

Preschool Program

Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

Special Event at Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation®

  • January 14, February 11, March 11, April 8, 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,” with innovation learning through the habits of Model i, The Henry Ford’s innovation learning framework.

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 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:


January 14: Collaborate

This month we will learn about the Model i Habits of an Innovator and explore some of the awesome innovations that were made through collaboration.

Exploration Activities:

While exploring Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, search for innovations that showcase innovators who collaborated.

  1. Wright Flyer – Heroes of the Sky
    - Even as young children, Orville and Wilbur Wright spent their time learning and playing together. They collaborated to build the world's first airplane.
  2. Mathematica
    - Explore the interactive exhibit to learn how math impacts our lives. Designed by Charles and Ray Eames, inspirational collaborators from our collection.
  3. William Clay Ford Plaza of Innovation
    - Create a wood and bead necklace using a take-home STEAM activity kit.
Inspiring Stories
William Clay Ford Plaza of Innovation – Museum Plaza  10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. 
Join our storyteller for book readings that will inspire your Tinkering Tot to think like a collaborator. Today's featured story is Room for Bear by Ciara Gavin.

Artifact of the Day
Historic Kitchens – near Agriculture  – Cooking and cleaning was hard work in the past. Explore the Historic Kitchens to learn how families worked together to provide for everyone.


February 11: Take Risks

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 Take Risks.

Exploration Activities:
While exploring Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, search for innovations that showcase innovators who took risks.
  1. Sikorsky Helicopter Heroes of the Sky
    - Igor Sikorsky, as a young man in Russia, tried unsuccessfully to build a helicopter in 1909. But he didn't give up. Visit the Sikorsky Helicopter to learn how Sikorsky took risks to make his helicopter a reality in 1939.
  2. 1903 Packard Model F Runabout – Driving America
    - This car became only the second to drive across America coast-to-coast. The trip took 61 days. Few roads and no gas stations made this a very risky trip. Visit to learn more.
  3. William Clay Ford Plaza of Innovation
    - Create a plastic spoon ant using a take-home STEAM activity kit.
Inspiring Stories
William Clay Ford Plaza of Innovation – Museum Plaza 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Join our storyteller for book readings that will inspire your Tinkering Tot to think like a social innovator. Today's featured story is I Am Rosa Parks (Ordinary People Change the World) by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos.

Artifact of the Day
Rosa Parks Bus – With Liberty and Justice for All
Inside this bus on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man. This courageous act of protest started a fire in the hearts of African Americans everywhere. It led to an immediate citywide bus boycott.

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.
  3. William Clay Ford Plaza of Innovation
    - Create a chenille stick spider and web using a take-home STEAM activity kit.
Inspiring Stories
William Clay Ford Plaza of Innovation Museum Plaza – 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.

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 President Roosevelt's wheelchair and to make it easier to lift President Roosevelt in and out, since 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.
  3. William Clay Ford Plaza of Innovation
    - Create a paper crown from recycled materials using a take-home STEAM activity kit.
Inspiring Stories
William Clay Ford Plaza of Innovation Museum Plaza – 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.

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January – April 2021 Program Coming Soon

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.