Children have an uncanny knack of spotting opportunity where adults struggle to, and turning junk, or waste products, into valuable resources is one glorious way children do this.
Unleash potential through junk modelling
In my view, it’s the most wonderful and uplifting creative activity. I love how it unleashes the huge variety of possibility in little minds, nothing seems too “out there” for the young creatives and it is a brilliant way to unleash every child’s inner engineer, innovator, artist, creative.
How kids benefit
Children learn about their world and how to interact with it through experience. The creative environment that junk modelling generates helps kids develop confidence in creative reasoning and how to assess problems and possibilities conceptually and practically.
Developmental benefits of junk modelling start with kids using fine motor skills and tools and learning about materials, textures, properties and how to manipulate them. The valuable skill of spotting an opportunity and turning that idea in to something actual and structural – is a highly sought after skill in today’s fast evolving world.
Social and language skills
Beyond the creative and structural skills also lie the use of language, interpretation, description and negotiation . One of the great things about junk modelling is that it suits all age groups and abilities so you can have everyone working together.
The children will benefit from this interaction with a wide range of ages, it encourages the little ones to extend their practise and their learning and helps the older ones to look out for and encourage the younger ones. Children tend to extend their development and take more risks when they are not being overseen by adults. This creates great learning opportunities, such as older children verbally explaining their creative process to little ones with an awareness they may not have used had they been with peers or adults.
Feel good factor
And of course there are those wonderful feelings of satisfaction, self confidence and accomplishment that the children can experience from creating something special and unique. This is a great opportunity for parents and educators to acknowledge and reiterate their children’s accomplishments to them, maybe commending them on how they have worked in a team or how they have solved a particular problem or created something particularly ingenious and unique. Compliments should be specific, not general. “Good cutting!” will sound hollow to your child but “I like how you managed to cut around that eye hole” sounds much more personalised and relevant.
Here is what kids will need from you;
A flat surface -a floor, a table, the garden -something that can be either washed down or covered for protection against glue and paint. Don’t laden and distract kids with endless and boring points about not making a mess – most things are washable and if they are not, don’t get creative near them!
Allow a good couple of hours for this activity, no rushing! This will enable children to immerse themselves in the activity and maybe to experience a glorious phase of flow.
Give your kids plenty of encouragement and creative space. Let their imagination run wild, there is no need to get hung up on whether the object in question “looks like” a train, and there is certainly no need to create restrictions such as “Let’s make a lady bird”. Maybe your 4 year old doesn’t see a lady bird when she looks at the margarine tub, maybe she sees something totally different…
It is important to let this creative experience be the children’s creative experience and not simply following your instruction. Stand back from the process as much as possible and only get involved to scaffold, where needed.
Clean junk from your own recycling, anything goes – best avoid sharp and serrated edges and objects that can be swallowed easily…
For those that haven’t had the good fortune to come across Scrap Store, there are 75 in the country, lovingly recycling off industry’s unwanted materials. This open brief means that Scrap Stores channel a huge variety of scrap material with possibilities that would bring tears to the eyes of any inventor, engineer, creative worth his or her salt.
A trip to your local Scrap Store would go down a treat!
Scissors, effective ones – kids need to learn how to use these. Don’t underestimate your little one’s fine motor skills. Keep an eye out for them but give them as much freedom to practise as you feel comfortable with.
Glue – a stick of glue and PVA
Paint – get a good quality paint with good rich pigment. This can be mixed with PVA glue to create a paint that can easily go over plastics and stick!
Materials – Paper, tin foil, string, glitter, stick ons, basically anything you can raid from the craft shop or stationers or from the home.