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An Interview with PPIS Child Development Centre @ 316 Sembawang Vista: Creating a Habit of Recycling

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

Developing young learners to be creative and environmentally-conscious can sometimes be challenging as these two concepts appear to be in tension.

In this series of #PSMExplores, we speak with educators that bring these two concepts together impeccably and gather some tips which you can use to start your own sustainability journey.

We sat down with Mdm Raha Abdul Razak, Vice-Principal, and Teacher Nabilah from PPIS Child Development Centre @ 316 Sembawang Vista (PPIS) to learn how the preschool brings the parents’ community together to promote environmental consciousness and integrate upcycling and recycling into their curriculum, projects, and the school environment.

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?

PPIS: Since last year, we have an ongoing recycling initiative in collaboration with Sembcorp for waste management. The aim is to create awareness among our stakeholders (preschoolers, parents, and staff) on the importance of 3Rs and to encourage recycling of waste items. The items that we mainly request from our parents are PET bottles and cardboard boxes. For this initiative, parents and children will gather recyclables from home and bring to school. When we collect enough, we will use the mobile app to inform Sembcorp to come for collection and they usually come on a monthly basis. Sembcorp will weigh the ‘trash’ before depositing them at their recycling hub.

We also participated in the Global Canvas children’s art competition recently. It was an annual art contest encouraging collaboration and creativity to display thought and concern for our planet’s environment and the incredible wildlife that inhabits it. The theme for the 2021 competition is ‘Healing Nature- a Planet on the Edge’. The use of recycled material washighly encouraged. This is where we see the synergy of our recycling initiative and the art competition. Our monthly recycling initiative has in one way or another influenced the children and their parents, and developed the habit of recycling. With recyclables and creativity, teachers guide and discuss climate change and how it is affecting life on Earth withthe children and create art pieces to reflect their learning.

Aside from the art competition, we also use recycled materials for our Art and Craft lessons as well as craft projects for special events like Chinese New Year and Total Defence Day. Andfor the K1s and K2s, they usually learn about the Earth and 3Rs in their term 3 and term 4 curriculum. Last year, we hosted a Parent’s Workshop in which we taught parents how to use simple everyday materials to create learning resources that can help improve the fine motor skills of children. Instead of frequently buying commercial toys like Lego, making their own learning resources is more unique and better for the environment. Building fine motor skills for young children can be as simple as screwing and unscrewing bottles and threading.

For SSDB 2019, as part of “Caring for the Environment”, we get the parents together to make ships out of cardboard boxes. They made a ship with their child at home before bringing over to Marina Barrage to have a race with ships built by other parents and children.

Getting into Upcycling

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

PPIS: It has always been a practice in our centre. Any artwork that we do, we ask our parents or staff to contribute the recyclables. As mentioned, we teach them in our curriculum and we have to lead by example. The children in our centre, especially the K1s and K2s, are very vocal and inquisitive. They will question why we are throwing them away instead of recycling. It makes us as educators reflect on our own practices. Naturally, it becomes a habit.

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

PPIS: From our parents and staff. We would usually inform parents about our initiatives. Some parents give frequently and others will need some reminders. Praising and recognisingthe children’s effort, no matter how much their contributions are, is essential too. Even if theybring just one or two recyclables, we would commend them. This will make them understandevery little action counts, and most importantly, they will feel proud for doing something good.

We have a small recyclables collection corner, where children come in and drop the recyclables off in the morning. I would say one of the difficulties is the space constraint. Second, it is that certain materials are difficult to obtain. For example, we tried getting parents to give us keys, but it hasn’t been successful so far. That’s why we are also working with Preschool Market where we can get harder-to-source-for recyclables and also contributerecycled materials back to them. *Editor’s Note: Thank you PPIS for giving us a large bag of bottle caps! :D*

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)

PPIS: Bottles, bottlecaps, toilet rolls, tissue boxes, shoeboxes and A4 paper boxes are some of the materials we used often. They are very handy and versatile for classroom’s activities. For instance, we can use A4 paper boxes to create tables used for role playing or wrap them up for dramatic play. Clear bottles are great as sensory/ discovery bottles for infants.

Views on Environmental Sustainability

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

PPIS: Creating awareness is one thing but to act upon it is another. We try to raise awareness but I’m not sure if I have seen anyone doing it actively. Also, I think some people are unaware that the recyclables need to be cleaned before putting into the blue bin. For us, we will ensure that the things we collected, like bottles, are washed before calling Sembcorp over.

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

PPIS: Start by examining what we do daily. We always tell children that their hands are small, one square of tissue is enough to dry their hands. Other than that, we also remind them to turn off the tap when soaping the hands instead of letting it run. Create awareness from young and work as a team! Another idea that we have implemented to save papers in schoolis by making small booklets for children to draw on instead of handing out loose pieces of paper. By having a small booklet, they can be reminded of what they have drawn previously and also have conversations with their teachers.

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: @preschoolmarket

If you would like to share with us about your preschool’s sustainability journey or other enquiries, please email us at

More about PPIS Child Development Centre @316 Sembawang Vista

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

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