Think PLAY before you throw away
Join EcoKids! Learn how to enrich outdoor play at schools and in our neighbourhoods while also reducing waste.
You can facilitate more play by gathering materials that would usually be thrown out or recycled. These include items (loose parts) as well as supplementary gear to wear when it gets colder or wet outside.
There may be a lot of great loose parts already at your school or at home that currently end up in garbage or recycling. This action offers a collecting practice project that you can do at home or with your class at school.
As a parent or teacher you can encourage your kids to Save for PLAY. Make it a daily practice to save specific items that will be used during playtime. Collecting any extra clothing or gear from home suitable for cold or rainy weather is especially useful at schools.
Your collection may be focused on one item. To start, you could save all of the cardboard boxes used in your home or have each student bring in a few boxes to the classroom. Keeping your collection minimal at the beginning is best, as a fully integrated loose parts collection requires storage, management and upkeep. We suggest cardboard boxes as they will be used up quickly in play and can then be recycled.
- Pick an item for waste reduction. Talk to your kids/class about saving that item for a period of time leading up to your play.
- If you are doing this at school, also ask the kids to bring in clothing or winter gear from home that is no longer used. Rubber boots, raincoats, winter jackets, scarves, hats, goggles, winter boots etc. are ideal.
- A Clothing and Gear Library is a great practice for the whole school and can extend beyond your classroom. It would be ideal to have an area in the school where these items can be stored and signed out when needed. Schools that have implemented a Clothing and Gear Library have reported that it supports equity and encourages children to take responsibility for their own needs.
- For your loose part collection, try to collect a variety of types of your chosen item. If you are collecting cardboard boxes, larger storage boxes are ideal, but you may also want to collect a variety of shapes and sizes (boxes from bicycle shops, produce boxes, cereal boxes, shoe boxes etc.).
- Bring some extra items that you think will support the exploration and creativity that will come from playing with the recycled boxes – duct tape, packing tape, string, rope, sonotubes, large pieces of fabric. You may also want to equip yourself with a few pairs of scissors or knives that you can use to assist the kids when needed during play.
- When you have a substantial collection, assign a period for the PLAY component of Save for PLAY!
- Take your items outside and let the kids direct their own creative play while discovering all the possibilities of their curated collection.