I love the currently popular trend of Upcycling, the idea that someone can take something that was going to be thrown away and create something useful and beautiful instead. Having worked with young children for many years, it is clear that this is not a new idea. Young children have been upcycling for years. A box becomes a house or a rocket; toilet paper rolls become binoculars.
I have always believed in art as a way to help children learn. Some children feel celebrated as they explore the arts, finding a connection that helps them express what they feel and think. Some children never love art experiences but benefit from the idea that creativity is a good thing and that the regular solution to a problem isn’t always the best solution to a problem. Using recycled materials, boxes, cardboard, plastic bottles, in art experiences for children presents the absolute best use of upcycling and creative thinking.
What do children learn from using recycled materials in art? They learn to trust their ideas, to see their own way and to try. They learn that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make cool stuff. They learn that the whole world isn’t disposable and that reusing something can be fun.
At our house, we have a bin of materials that can be re-used for art…cardboard, some bubble wrap, a few empty water bottles, egg cartons, wallpaper samples, etc. These materials are so open-ended that they can be anything! That is what makes them so fun and irresistible to young children.
Enjoy upcycling with the children you care about on these cold winter days!
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