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An Interview with Glory Joy Child Development Centre: Making Upcycled Projects Aesthetic, Functional

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

Are we able to create something functional and beautiful with a minimal budget?

Sustainable living, when done correctly, is a prudent way of using resources. In this series of #PSMExplores, we speak with educators who believe in the creative use of recycled materialsin educating young children and gather some tips which you can use to start your own sustainability journey.

We sat down with Miss Chang, Principal of Glory Joy Child Development Centre (GJ) to learn more about her views on recycling and upcycling, and what she does in her preschool to promote environmental awareness.

CREATE using Recyclables.

QN: Tell us some of the upcycling or recycling projects (be it for work or leisure; projects or learning materials in school) that you have done. Where do you get your inspirations from?

GJ: We use recyclable materials extensively when curating our teaching resources as well as decorating the interior of our centre. We do our research online, then make modifications to suit the learning needs of our children. For instance, we wanted to train the public speaking skills of our children and were brainstorming on how to get them excited. In the end, we decided to make a microphone and a stand to use as the prop for their show-and-tell. We made use of strong cardboard cores to build the stand and wrapped it nicely with aluminum foil. I am proud to say we have been using it ever since. For SSDB 2020, we made use of plastic bottles to make flower bouquets for the doctors and nurses in Singapore General Hospital. Each child painted one flower with vibrant colours. I strongly believed in making upcycled projects beautiful.

Below is a collage of some of the teaching aids and projects that were done over the years.

Getting into Upcycling

QN: How did you or your school get into upcycling?

GJ: For myself, it started when I became a teacher at 20 years old. At that time, there were not a lot of resources around and that was what prompted me and other fellow teachers to start using recycled materials creatively to make teaching aids. Even as a principal now, I still believed in the prudent use of resources and led by example. That’s why I always share ideas and give my teachers time and space to be creative in hopes of cultivating this lifestyle habit - to use less of what is harming the environment and keep suitable materials to be reused or upcycled. It takes practice. Practice makes perfect, very much like training your muscles. Slowly but surely, my teachers caught the enthusiasm and partook in this as well! It will become a lifestyle. Looking back, we barely have any teaching aids made of recycled materials. However, with each successful project, we gain confidence in making aids that are functional and aesthetic.

QN: How do you go about gathering some of your recyclable materials? Are there any difficulties faced when trying to secure recyclable materials?

GJ: My teachers are now very mindful when it comes to recycling and reusing. I would say it has become a lifestyle for many of us. We would collect and store at home, before bringing them to the centre. We have also become more experienced when it comes to selecting which materials to keep due to space constraint. For instance, we would not keep soft cardboard.

QN: What are some materials that you are constantly on the lookout for? Is there aGO-TO recyclable material that you see yourself using over and over again? (a very open-ended recyclable material that encourage creative use)

GJ: Tissue boxes, shoeboxes, A4 paper boxes and toilet rolls are some of the materials we used often. They are very handy and versatile for classroom’s activities. For instance, we use A4 paper boxes to make a suggestion box, bookshelf and also to display quotes and artwork. We even make our recyclables corner with four large sturdy cardboard boxes and have it painted. I believe that upcycling recycled things should not be done in a sloppy manner, we have to treat recycled materials with dignity.

Views on Environmental Sustainability

QN: Do you have any tips for people or schools who are starting their sustainability journey?

GJ: We started a few years ago on this sustainable journey, and all these are the accumulated results. We need to start somewhere.

Start with a small step. Have the conviction and believe that everything is possible and you will be able to see the ripple effect. Don’t be afraid to try. Whenever you see a potential recyclable material, ask yourself what you can transform it into. If you have a beautiful idea, embark on it. Go through the whole process of brainstorming, researching, creating, modifying and finally using the DIY-ed learning resources in the classrooms. You will get a sense of achievement, and also you will get better with each try. As the leader, guide and encourage your staff team. Give them ideas to inspire them. As they become more confident, they will be able to generate more and more great ideas. Journey along with them and you will never know what the team can give you.

How to get started?

Want to get started with your own sustainability journey, but unsure how?

Join our Kindred Community where we share with you ideas and resources to help you kickstart your journey. If you would like to secure some basic materials to start your loose parts collection, you may contact us to enquire. All preschools are entitled to basic Kindred Studio SG membership which allows you to get BASIC materials. Come join our Kindred Community!

Follow us on social media!

Facebook: @kindredstudioSG

Instagram: @preschooolmarket

Instagram: @pwith us about your preschool’s sustainability journey or other enquiries, please email us at

More about Glory Joy Child Development Centre

If you would like to find. out more about Glory Joy. Child Development Centre, head over to Glory Joy Child Development Centre.

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