Tuesday, July 19, 2011

From Trash to Treasure

(Xander at 3yo enjoying a homemade shield that he asked us to fashion from an egg carton and his lance from an old packing tube.)

As we’ve been talking about, encouraging our kids in open-ended play is a great way for them to learn at their own pace as well as develop important creative and critical thinking skills that will benefit them in so many academic areas later on. Another way that I’ve worked on modeling this creative thinking process to my kids is in encouraging them to use “trash” and convert it into toys. Depending on the nature of the item and how it is being used will determine how long it stays in my house, but needless to say, it has been fun to see what our family comes up with.

A simple google search on common items that end up in our trash cans such as cardboard tubes, packing material, egg cartons, etc will provide a rich source of inspiration for you. Need ideas? Check out this, this or this.  I've also enjoyed this blog that posts ideas on things to do with old tp rolls!!! 

To get started with free play, go on a house hunt for open-ended materials, including plastic caps, fabric, wire, cardboard boxes, blocks, paints, and clay. Try a nature walk where you can gather twigs, leaves, and feathers. The list is endless.

We love to go out for a nature walks and collect nature’s trash (leaves, flowers, sand) that is on the ground and made a wreath! The boys had so much fun doing this and now inspect what they find around them so much closer. They love to try and identify what tree or bush their little ‘treasure’ came from.
I’ve kept packages from food we’ve eaten and taped them shut so the boys could play store. They also ended up using the cardboard boxes as blocks. We had a week or so of fun with it and then it was placed in the trash for good!
A friend of mine noticed that her son was into cars and mechanic type stuff, so her hubby “created” this garage for him. It provided hours of entertainment not only for him, but for every friend that visited him for the next month or two.

What do you have lying around your home? Give it a second chance and turn it into something fun! The sky’s the limit!  I'd love to hear any creative ways you or your children have re-used 'trash' for creative play!!!

[Open-Ended Play Series, Part 9]
PART 1     PART 2     PART 3    PART 4    PART 5   PART  6   PART 7  PART 8

Coming this weekend: Our PLAYSILK giveaway!!!!!  Stay tuned!


  1. Fantastic ideas, as usual :)
    How are you feeling?

  2. Very creative! It is amazing what creations we can make with very little! :)