I am a big fan of holidays and holiday themed learning for younger kids! My son is 6, and he really enjoys the changes in the seasons and holidays. I have encouraging his love of STEM and STEAM activities by mixing them up with holiday themes and colors. As Valentine’s Day approaches, I decided to throw together a Valentines Day tinker tray to catch his eye as part of our Valentine STEM activities.

How To Make Valentines Day Tinker Tray

Dollar Store Valentines Day Tinker Tray for Engineering and Inventing

Valentine’s Day STEM

STEM and STEAM activities my seem like a somewhat new concept for kids activities. However they are gaining in popularity as the exposure to STEM and STEAM become more of a focus and an important part of our kids’ education.

Just imagine the kid who sits for hour making things with this Valentines Day tinker tray below may one day design the world’s strongest bridge, tallest building, or a machine to help others. This is just the beginning, and it’s so easy to do!

What’s the purpose of our Valentines Day tinker tray?

A tinker tray is also like an inventors tray, a creators tray, or a makers tray. A tinker tray is filled with a variety materials to make what your imagination dreams up. Make a contraption. Make a gadget. Make your very own invention. A tinker tray is much more than a craft activity.

Our Valentines Day tinker tray is of course a themed tinker tray featuring the traditional colors and objects that represent Valentine’s Day. I chose materials that are theme specific but also that I hope will encourage a major new invention!

Also take a look at these theme STEM kits and tinker trays below.


What’s on our Valentines Day Tinker Tray?

I love the the dollar store for themed materials to add to our regular tinker kit materials!


  • cups
  • pipe cleaners
  • straws
  • popsicle sticks
  • loom bands
  • rubber bands
  • bottle caps
  • clothespins
  • paperclips
  • cookie cutters
  • old CD cases
  • balloons
  • hardware items
  • a small notebook for designing and planning
Valentine's Day STEM Tinker Tray

Everyday supplies for tinker trays

You do need a few everyday supplies on hand to complement a tinker tray like scissors, paper, markers or colored pencils, and glue.

In the picture below, you can see all the supplies we normally have on hand to accompany our tinkering projects.

To supplement your Valentines Day tinker tray, I always have available non themed tapes, popsicle sticks, straws, pipe cleaners, regular clear tape, scissors, play dough, glue and glue sticks.

I also keep a basket handy where I add recyclable items or items like styrofoam trays and cups. That way, we have a constant stock to choose from. Add fun packaging materials you might receive from electronics boxes too.

You will start looking at “junk” in a whole new way! 

Tinker Tray and Tinker Kit Materials and Supplies

What can you make with your Valentines Day tinker tray?

Just start tinkering and you will figure it out. I don’t provide a set invention for my son to build with specific instructions. If he is stuck, I encourage him to spend some time just trying out the supplies.

Eventually an idea comes to mind. If one doesn’t, I might suggest he build a robot or something along those lines. Still plenty of room for imagination and creation.

I believe his first creation was a light saber/laser beam thingy.

Here’s a few ideas to get started…

Valentines Day Tinker Tray

Create a Valentines Day Tinker Tray for your little inventor!

Click on the image below or on the link for more fun Valentine’s Day STEM ideas.



  1. I think a good bit of the materials featured would be great for toddlers too. Obviously closer adult supervision is required and you wouldn’t want to include small items like the washers and nuts but certainly straws, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, cups, plastic cookie cutters, large pom poms, a 12″ ruler to “measure”. With help you can certainly introduce tape {I like painters tape with young kids}. Thanks!

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