Happy New Year!! If you're like me and couldn't discard all that precious holiday wrapping material, here's a suggestion: offer those cardboard inserts, tubes, wrapping paper and bows to the children for their creative pleasure.
Art-making from the recyclables is one way to find enjoyable closure to the holiday season (which seems to be starting earlier each year). After months of excitement and anticipation, having easily-accessible resources for artistic expression diminishes the post-holiday slump.
Guidlines for creating your re-purposing art center:
- Find containers. Depending on available space and aesthetics, you can use anything from cardboard boxes to beautifully-crafted ones.
- Let the children sort the materials and place in containers. (Teachers, sending an email to parents will likely unleash an avalanche of resources for the children to sort and use.)
- Have handy colored masking tape and scissors. Depending on their age, the children may need some direction as to how to safely cut the tape and prevent it from sticking to their hands. I've found that sticking the end to a table and pulling down the roll is helpful. (See blogs of April 25, 2012, "No Collecting Without Connecting" and June 19, 2013, "Skill Building.")
Children's resourcefulness comes into play as they create from the materials they find around them. Once alerted to this "treasure-finding," the children themselves will add to their supply. You may need to use the cover of night to do your recycling once children discover the joy of creating with these readily-available materials.
I am often told anecdotes and children's quotes by the parents. "You're going to throw that away?! Let's bring it to school." Or, "We don't have to bring all that to Elyse, let's keep it for making things at home."
There are families who bring in shopping bags of recyclable material. Parents hold the bag and the children sort and place the items into the containers. When we run out, I have the children draw a picture of what is needed and those who love letters will add words, such as "Wish List" or "Please Bring to Expressive Arts." In no time, the empty containers are filled again. In this way, the children take some responsibility for claiming Expressive Arts and doing their part to keep the program supplied. Feeling helpful and responsible expands their sense of belonging; being part of a community.
Beyond the fun and creativity, the skill-building, the process or product is the spirit of connection that surfaces. There are many moments in each day when I feel the quiet joy of children creating, collaborating and assisting each other. I become aware of the community spirit flowing to and from the classroom and am so grateful to still be teaching 28 years from the program's conception. This idea of children, their families and teachers working together creatively is a simple means for modeling a better, more peaceful world.
Wishing you all Peace and Plenty in 2014.