Learning from scraps and household items
During the summer, it is customary in the preschool I work in to do a general cleaning where we get rid of all the old junk and make room for the new stuff that will come in for the upcoming school year. However, every year we seem to find more and more bits and pieces of scraps that we teachers can’t seem to let go off because we transform them into learning materials. We have a shelf-full of all sorts of odds and ends, from toilet paper rolls to old party hats, scraps of cloths and buttons, as well as all kinds of things you wouldn’t really think of keeping! Even old office papers find a home in our school. See that tall stack of white papers just waiting to become artworks?
Although it may look like a mess, this is a source of endless fun, adventure and learning, not just for the kids but even myself as their teacher! Teacher-made materials are excellent learning tools because you can design it to cater particular themes or needs your students have. Plus it can come out more cost-effective, especially if you teach in the Philippines where educational toys are quite expensive.
Here are some fun things my students and I have done with scraps and household items we’ve used as learning supplements in class:
Toilet Paper. I use these to measure my kids’ heights by taping to to the wall and counting how many squares tall they are. To further extend the lesson, we compare the number of each student then we put it in order from least to greatest. This teaches them sequencing, comparing greater and less than, and other math concepts
Gumamela flowers to make bubbles or other fallen flowers and leaves for drying or incorporating to handmade paper. To make our handmade paper, we’ve used old window screens for straining and draining the paper pulp pressed together. Sometimes the paper comes out quite thick so we end up using this to make picture frames or other crafts.
Old water bottles are big favorites for kids! Whether its filling them up with colored water, stones or whatnot, they love shaking it around and are quite fascinated by what goes on inside the bottle! If you’re lucky, you can find those little connectors that allow you to put together two bottles to make one of these tornado bottles It works best though if the water bottle is the thicker kind of PET bottles.
Making Christmas crafts from leftover paper plates and cardboard is also a good way of harnessing a child’s creativity and fine-motor skills.
Wondering what to do with old tires? Make them into playground swings! A word of advise though: be careful when cutting the rubber because there are a lot of steel wires on the inside. We had this done by our school carpenter and he sanded down the wires and we wrapped them up in protective sealants before painting it.
Old egg trays or cartons can also be great ways to teach kids colors, one-to-one correspondence, matching and classification. This also helps stimulate a child’s thinking skills. For older kids, instead of using just colors, you can integrate other concepts to it. Ive also used old egg trays as 3D tic-tac-toe frames
Old newspapers and scratch papers are great for paper maché projects!
These are just a few things I’ve done (and have pictures to show of!) but there are so many other ideas to explore. One of my other favorite household trash items I love to use are toilet paper rolls!!! They’ve become musical instruments, bahay-bahayan toys and even presents made by the kids for mom and dad.
So, whenever you have trash at home, think twice about what can be done with these. Just be crafty!
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