Thursday, 2 May 2013

Your trash is their treasure

There’s a moment when the doors to the Reception Class first swing open at 3.20pm (or thereabouts) that the eager parents outside visibly swell. I think they are all hoping that their child may, just this once, get out first (that is what I am wishing anyway). My child is rarely out first of course since she is arranging and rearranging her multitude of bags and outer garments. Just. The. Way. She. Likes. Them. (One does not simply leave school…)
Those 'roof tiles' took ages...

Frustrating as this is, it does afford me the opportunity to watch with amusement as an enormous mound of gummy cardboard, masking tape and plastic yogurt pots exits. This happens at least once at every pick up. And above the creation there will be a pair of eyes wild with excitement while tiny little legs protrude below. Usually the child will be met with parental enthusiasm, some vocal praise and the subtle question ‘what is it?’. Oh, how those kiddies love their junk!

And indeed junk modelling is firmly on the academic curriculum. Only the other week I was in for a ‘mummy helper’ stint while the whole school got busy with old boxes and other random reclaimed items. This time much of the focus was on planning beforehand by making a diagram and working as a team to bring that imagining to life. Hopefully that led to the use of interpersonal skills such as presenting ideas and negotiating (yep, I heard some negotiating alright). And there was certainly a lot of imagination (as well as PVA glue) being used that day.

In fact there are bona fide reasons behind crafting with 3D items. Believe it or not all that rubbish can help teach about balance and symmetry, size and shape and spatial relations. It also involves problem-solving, trial and error and creative-thinking. There’s a fair bit of motor skills involved too. Best of all from my point of view, it can get girls into building, skills which they sometimes skim over in their desire to nurture everything from a floppy plastic doll to a collection of wilting daisies.
'A dinosaur, a tree for him to eat from and some grass for him to stand on'

Perhaps one of the things that will also delight your little ‘un when they get to junk model at school or home or toddler group, is the freedom they get to create what the heck they like. Unlike us adults they tend to be very open-minded and can try out their own ideas, free from pre-conceptions about what will and what won’t work. And of course they have the kind of crazy fancies we can only wish for, because for kids, when they are junk modelling, the sky is the limit (and sometimes as you trudge home with a million bags as well as your child’s delicate yet colossal construction you may feel you are reaching your limit).
Every girl needs accessories

So if you can cope with all your recycling coming back to haunt you, and all the clear space in your house cluttered up with crafty creations (I know, I know, deep breaths will help though), why not encourage your kids to get busy with some boxes? You can use it to discuss school stuff such as differing shapes and measurements – or just leave them be to enjoy the liberty of learning by themselves (or as you and I know it, actually making yourself a cup of tea and then actually finishing it before it gets cold). Of course you can also do it and feel smug that you are a little bit of an eco-warrior too, since you are kind of reusing your rubbish. And if you’re stuck for ideas, I’ve trawled Pinterest for you (for research purposes clearly) and popped all the best ideas from marble runs to mermaids into once convenient location

Let me know if you enjoy a bit of junk modelling – or if you can’t wait to dissemble the designs and get them back in the bin ASAP!!!


  1. I think my daughter would get on well with yours ~ a shared passion for junk modelling! Couldn't find an email address so putting it here instead ~ I've nominated you for a Liebster Award ~ check it out here ~
    Take care

    1. I have two of them that are into it - and some very full windowsills... Passers by must think I'm one of those out of control hoarders!! Thank you for the Liebster, although I have already been done by the 'This Little House' blog (

      I'll shoot over to you to read your random Q&As though - I love the concept.

  2. So sweet! Are those benderoos in that last pic? We are big fans of them in our house! And that cardboard house is quite something... The roof tiles are fabulous! :)

    1. Those roof tiles took the pair of them ages (they each had 2 sides to complete) - it was great to watch the concentration (from the sofa, with my cup of Earl Grey!!!). And yes Benderoos popular here as well - they seem to last for ages too.