Reinventing recycled items
Activities for toddlers and babies
Use the items in your recycling bin to organize activities throughout the week. Be sure to select items that can safely be manipulated by little ones.
My recycling bin, my treasure chest
Examine the contents of your recycling bin and select a variety of items that young children can manipulate: empty plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, different types of paper, empty toilet paper rolls, etc. Encourage babies and toddlers to explore them.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
Laminate a musical greeting card and let babies and toddlers open and close it over and over again during diaper changes. If you wish, you can stick pictures or illustrations on all four sections of the card before laminating it to create a simple musical picture book.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (look and hear)
This is a simple activity that children always enjoy. Add tiny items to each bottle (1/4 full). When children shake the bottles, they will hear interesting sounds. You may use rice, dried peas, tiny bells, etc. Use hot glue to secure the cap on each bottle.
Create attractive bottles by filling empty plastic bottles with water and tiny plastic flowers. You can also choose to add glitter or hair gel to other bottles for variety. Use hot glue to secure the cap on each bottle.
ARTS & CRAFTS
Serve lunch in paper plates. At the end of the meal, wash the plates. Invite each child to paint a paper plate or decorate it with other recycled items. Hang the plates from the ceiling.
Wrapping paper exploration
Wrapping paper makes gifts look great, but usually quickly ends up in the garbage can. Recycle wrapping paper by letting children manipulate, crumple, tear, and roll it into balls that can be tossed. Offer plastic containers that children can fill and empty over and over again.
Sticky wrapping paper
Hang a large piece of white paper or a piece of adhesive paper on a wall. Show babies and toddlers how they can work together to stick small pieces of wrapping paper on it to create a simple collage.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
A frame for our group picture
Recycle cardboard cereal boxes. Cut a frame and a support out of a cereal box. You may also use one of the frame models available in the educatall club. Invite children to paint, draw on, and decorate the frame. Photograph your group and stick the picture inside your frame. Display it where everyone can see it.
Recycle a very large gift bag. Cut the various illustrations and pictures out of each side of the bag. Cut the items from one side of the bag into 2, 3, or 4 pieces, depending on the ages of the children in your group. The items from the other side can be used as models. Laminate the puzzle pieces for durable, eco-friendly use.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MOTOR SKILLS
Super light bricks
Use undamaged sponges to represent light bricks that are easy to clean. Wash them and let them dry completely before wrapping them in colourful electrical tape (sold in hardware stores). Babies and toddlers will enjoy playing with these bricks. They can stack them to build towers, throw them, use them to fill and empty a variety of containers, etc.
Use large 2-litre plastic bottles to make a simple bowling game that children can play with outside. If you wish, you can easily transport the bowling pins to the playground. Simply set them on the ground and provide large balls children can push or throw towards the bowling pins to make them fall down.
Collect several different recycled items such as empty toilet paper rolls, metal cans, empty powdered milk containers, etc. Set them on the floor and encourage children to explore them. After a while, show them how they can use the items to produce different sounds. Older children will enjoy speaking or singing into the items. Record the sounds produced by the children in your group. Children will enjoy listening to the recordings.
Early childhood educator
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