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An Interview with Jurong Christian Church Kindergarten: Setting up a Creative Play Space

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

Are we able to create something functional and beautiful with a minimal budget? Take a look at this feature wall in Creative Play Space at Jurong Christian Church Kindergarten. Do you know the brick wall is actually a repurposed sturdy cardboard box

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 Mrs Dolly Teng, the Principal, and Teacher Ethel from Jurong Christian Church Kindergarten (JCCK) to learn more about their views on recycling and upcycling, and what they do in the 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?

JCCK: One of the projects includes setting up Creative Play Space. Creative play is a designated time in the curriculum when children enter to learn and play freely. They can either play with loose parts, use recycled materials to do simple craft or even begin a bigger scale upcycling project like building a robot or creating games out of recyclables. In the first year that the room was set up, we reached out to our parents for the cleaned recyclables. Wealso brought the children around the neighborhood to observe and see how trash was sorted out, general waste and recyclable materials. Through the real-world observations, classroom learning of the topic as well as hands-on application, the children are able to understand the concept of recycling and upcycling better.

We are inspired by God and believe that it is our responsibility to take care of the Earth that we live in. We are also encouraged and energised by the zealous support of our parents. As we join hands with the parents, we are able to educate the children at home and in school.

Getting into Upcycling

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

JCCK: It started with the decision to participate in the Early Childhood Development Agency’s (ECDA) “Start Small Dream Big” initiative in 2015. Over the years, we have done projects like gardening, upcycling and recycling. We also involve our parents in the act of recycling. For Teacher Ethel, she grew up with the habit of collecting and reusing recycled materials.

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

JCCK: We have a well-organized process of collecting the recyclables. It is encouraging to see the teachers and children make the effort to bring in the materials. The children usually bring in recyclables on Mondays. Out of concern of the pandemic situation, we have stopped collecting for the time being. However, we believe that it has become second nature for parents, children, and teachers to see value in these materials.

One difficulty would be the space constraint. With overwhelming support from parents, the room cannot store all the recyclables that were donated. What we do is to bring these excess materials to recycling points in the neighbourhood. For old books and toys, we will bring them to the community centre nearby.

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)

JCCK: Bread tags, can tabs, toilet rolls, water bottles, aluminium cans (but need to childproof them before allowing the children to use), cardboard boxes, etc.

Common resources like plastic bottles and toilet rolls are very versatile. You can turn plastic bottles into plant holders, paint holders, etc. As for toilet rolls, you can transform them into pencil holders, vases, toys and games, kaleidoscopes, etc.

Views on Environmental Sustainability

QN: Do you think the throw-away society we live in is becoming more aware of saving the environment?

Yes, to a certain extent. We are more informed about how to deal with the waste we generate. We will sort and separate things that we can recycle and things we can donate before putting them into the recycling bins or sending them to the community centre.

And what we should continue doing is to educate and inculcate the values of 5Rs which include Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse and Rethink in our children from young.

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

JCCK: Start by thinking about what you can do to reduce waste. For instance, Mrs Dolly noticed how frequently her centre changed the notice boards' design according to the curriculum. And it is quite a waste to see mahjong papers being thrown each time. So after discussing with her teachers and finding out the purpose of it is to protect the noticeboard, they decided to opt for a more permanent solution which is to use a plastic cover to protect it instead. Mrs Dolly also mentioned a familiar buying culture in which children switch to a new fancy drinking bottle quite often. Teaching the older children to bring shopping bags while going on a shopping trip with their parents instead of getting plastic bags. We all knowthat plastics are non-biodegradable. So by doing an internal audit and switching to a more sustainable lifestyle, we can reduce our plastic consumption.

For Teacher Ethel, she mentioned “Start practising with the basics”. It will slowly become a habit. She particularly likes and resonates with the phrase, “Start Small, Dream Big!” For herself, she feels most motivated and satisfied when she sees the children enjoying endless fun, being very attentive and focused on their recycling and/or upcycling projects, and most importantly, understanding that their actions can impact and save the Earth.

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!

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