A Peoria Park District Facility

Real Tools

As a unique resource for the greater Peoria area, the Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum fosters the development of next-generation problem solvers who will fundamentally change our community and our world. Our Maker Programs help children become confident and creative young makers. Learn more here about the benefits of Maker Programs.

Virtual Workshops:

The PlayHouse has adapted Real Tools so children and families can participate in maker workshops from their own homes. Workshop registration fees include all the materials you need to complete the project (to be picked up in advance of the workshop); you may also chose to check out any tools you might need from our Tool Lending Library. Workshops are facilitated by PlayHouse staff over Zoom.

Real Tools @ Lakeview Park: 

This large room allows enough space for social distancing. The room’s windows and doors can be opened in good weather to allow air flow. This also creates space for families to work directly outside the room at picnic tables or on the grass.

Our Real Tools maker space teaches children how to make and how to invent. It shows children how to solve problems — and it compels them to find the problems they want to solve. This maker space challenges young creatives to use tools and identify the best tools for the task they want to complete. Each child gets the opportunity to work on something different. Facilitators help children make meaningful choices during the making process, fostering innovation and creativity.

Like Real Tools at the PlayHouse, Real Tools @ Lakeview Park will be stocked with carpentry and craft tools, and a wide assortment of materials.

Real Tools sessions are two hours long and require pre-registration. Parents must stay with their children. Each week will feature a different highlighted project. Visitors have the option of doing this project, or they can use available tools and materials to make anything they would like. The cost of a Real Tools visit is $10 per child (with no additional charge for adults). PlayHouse Everywhere members receive one free family visit to Real Tools per month – learn more about these memberships here.

COVID guidelines are in effect in Real Tools, including:

  • Socially distanced family work stations
  • Individual tools for each work station
  • Masks are required for all visitors ages two and up
  • All tools are sanitized after each session.

Real Tools @ Lakeview Park is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Real Tools virtual workshops are $10 per child (materials included with this fee). PlayHouse Everywhere members receive one free workshop per month per child. Registration is required.

Real Tools at Home

We want to encourage kids to tinker, invent, innovate, and create both in Real Tools and at home.

An effective makerspace teaches children not only how to make, but how to invent. It teaches them to solve problems, and also compels them to find the problems that they want to solve. It challenges them not only to learn to use tools, but to identify the best tools for the task they want to complete. Each child is working on something different, which is what allows makerspaces to foster innovation and creativity.

Tips for creating a maker space at home

Create a dedicated space in your home for materials, tools, and finished products. This space can be as large as a corner of the living room or a bedroom, or as small as a shelf.


  • scissors (depending on the child's age we recommend safety scissors that young children can safely use independently)
  • a ruler
  • tapes - at least masking tape, and perhaps scotch tape and/or duct tape as well
  • a glue gun (perhaps stored elsewhere for use with adult supervision only!)


Though we may not all have access to a stocked tool-bench like in Real Tools, the very best tools available to any child is their hands! Save all of your recyclables to use as materials for making. Your supply list might include:

  • Recyclables, which may include paper towel and toilet paper tubes, empty cardboard boxes, bottle caps, bubble wrap and other packaging materials, empty jars, bottles, cans, wine corks, saved wrapping paper... and anything else that you can think of to save!
  • Craft materials, which may include any and all types of papers, pipe cleaners, plastic straws, buttons, ribbons, popsicle sticks.... and anything else you have available!
  • Drawing utensils, such as pens, pencils, crayons, and/or markers

Looking for more tips about making at home? Check out the PlayHouse-developed guide about integrating art and making into the lives of your young children: Make, Play, Everyday by Kate Gugliotta.

The Peoria PlayHouse Children's Museum

The Peoria PlayHouse Children's Museum