Earth Day Fun and Learning for Kids: Recycling Play

One of the disadvantages of being a preschool and kindergarten teacher is that I have a terrible time throwing things out, both at school and at home. But the recycling container can hold all kinds of ‘toys’ that kids can use for fun, learning, and kindergarten readiness as they play. Not just for crafts and projects, but for their own inner choices about what to do. A great Earth Day play-of-the-day is to use some of the treasures in the recycling for various activities.

earth day play activitiesLittle Sister found a whole bag of paper rolls and chose to color on them. She would pick up a roll, scribble a few lines and then get another. She did this for 10 or more and then liked to put them in a big paper bag and dump them all over. Big Sister used to love to play restaurant with all the containers, but this has been replaced by going camping. Four mats put together make the tent. A variety of boxes and containers make the trek from the kitchen pantry to the bedroom to be the food for camping. She also loves to turn them into fairy houses.

There’s an old saying about one person’s junk being another’s treasure. That’s sure true for kids. Plastic containers make great boats to sail in the tub. Lids from small bottles and jars can be money. Boxes are just right for garages for small cars, or castles for knights. Sometimes, kids do not have anything specific in mind, they just like to stack or line up lots of items. Shoe boxes are fun to paint or color. Cereal boxes are plain on the inside and can be cut apart to be used as canvases for painting.

As kids play, they are stretching their imaginations and exercising their creativity, planning and exploring. These are important skills for readiness for kindergarten and for much later, too. These are the beginnings of being ‘enterprising’, that is making the most of available opportunities. What kinds of play activities does your child like to do with items in the recycling?

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