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 Ms Gaia Pourville, a teacher from Children’s Cove Preschool @ Jalan Penjara (CC) to learn more about how the preschool incorporates upcycling and recycling into their curriculum, projects and school environment to promote environmental consciousness.
CREATE using Recyclables.
QN: Tell us some of the upcycling projects (be it for work or leisure; projects or learning materials in school) that you have done. Where do you get your inspirations from?
CC: The school uses recyclables extensively, whether it’s for setting up learning and play corners, decorating classrooms, making learning resources, or providing recyclables as materials directly to children for their term projects. *Scroll to the end to see what Children’s Cove Preschool has implemented and get some ideas and inspirations for your own upcycling project.*
We gain inspiration for our projects from the past experiences of our teachers as well as online sources like Pinterest. Usually, we think about how to create and build certain things based on the collection of recyclable materials we have. Regular weekly meetings and sharings also help in bouncing creative ideas off each other.
Getting into Upcycling
QN: How did you or your school get into upcycling?
CC: The bosses felt strongly about the current state of the Earth and believed in taking care of the environment. One way of doing that is by using resources responsibly. We try to reuse recyclable materials in our projects and when decorating our school environment. Another way of showing care to the environment is by teaching children how to recycle and upcycle. The C.O.V.E Approach is the school’s approach to child’s learning. The E in C.O.V.E stands for environmentally-conscious. We see the environment around us as an effective teacher and actively expose our children to her lessons so that they may gain a deep, experiential understanding of the world that also teaches them to care for it.
Also, parental involvement is very important. By partnering with parents, they learn about what is going on in school and be involved in their child’s learning by re-emphasizing them at home. This means seamless learning for the kids both at home and in school.
And moving forward, we will be formalising the environmentally-conscious aspect of the C.O.V.E approach by having more implementations into the curriculum.
QN: How do you go about gathering some of your recyclable materials? Are there any difficulties faced when trying to secure recyclable materials?
CC: We usually call for recyclable materials and we are glad to have a network of very supportive parents and teachers who contribute generously. Generally, there isn't much difficulty in securing common recyclables. However, there are also times when we need more unique and specific items for the classroom.
QN: What are some materials that you are constantly on the lookout for? Is there a GO-TO recyclable material that you see yourself using over and over again? (a very open-ended recyclable material that encourage creative use)
CC: The two main materials are cardboard boxes and bottles. These boxes can become great tools for children’s learning, playing, making and tinkering. Boxes come in a variety of sizes and have great versatility. By combining a few of them together, you have just constructed a good base for a creative project!
Views on Environmental Sustainability
QN: Do you think the throw-away society we live in is becoming more aware of saving the environment?
CC: To a certain extent. There are more advertisements and project movements about the environment. People are more aware now, but whether they do something about it is a different story. Recycling and upcycling is more than just putting recyclables into the blue bin. We take it one step further by asking ourselves, “What can we do with the things we wanted to recycle?” However, for most people, there simply isn’t much time to spare since they have to juggle between working, having kids and other commitments. However, it is heartening to see more conscientious buying decisions by people. Brands are also making efforts to be more eco-friendly.
QN: Do you have any tips for people or schools who are starting their sustainability journey?
CC: Start Simple. Recycling is simple. For those with children, why not try getting children to play with loose parts instead of giving them paper and pencil for craft time at home? You can build your loose parts collection by keeping recyclables. Many preschools are already dabbling with loose parts play. Since preschoolers are already playing with loose parts in schools, if they don’t do it at home, they might feel disconnected when learning at home and in school. They may become confused about it too. Hence, it is good for parents to start at home too.
Get inspired by some of the creative upcycling projects done by Children’s Cove Preschool @ Jalan Penjara!
Using recycled materials to set up learning and play corner
1. Maker’s Lab
It is a room where children come to play and tinker with the loose parts.
2. Manipulative Centre & Loose parts corners
Every class has a small loose parts corner where the teachers curate their favourite loose parts to be used for lessons.
3. Sound Kitchen & Mud Kitchen
A mud kitchen is an outdoor setup for children to pretend to prepare and cook food using any combination of mud, sand and water. In addition to the mud itself, there will be a surface to work on, shelves or cupboard space, and a basin.
Letterland is a corner which displays old toys donated by parents. The toys are sorted out based on their initials.
5. Sensory Walk
Decorating classrooms and school spaces with recyclable materials
Upcycling recyclables as learning resources
Past term projects done by preschoolers
Children will upcycle recyclables for their term projects using their creativity and imagination. For their term projects, they are given the flexibility to make something that is related to what they have learnt for the term.
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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If you would like to share with us about your preschool’s sustainability journey or other enquiries, please email us at email@example.com.
More about Children’s Cove Preschool
If you would like to find out more about Children’s Cove Preschool, head over to Children’s Cove Preschool.