How to make a sustainable Easter arts & crafts activity with ‘Karung Guni’ style recycled materials
The practice of Karung Guni is common in Singapore. Its practitioners are a modern form of “rag and bone men” that visit residences door-to-door collecting goods. This Easter, if you are planning Easter bonnet making or just some fun decorations why not theme your arts & crafts activity on nature? Inspire kids by images of spring and new life to give them the gift of creativity and respect for the environment. Blue House Nursery & International Preschool shows us how.
Young children gain great education through their interactions with materials – the more varied materials we can offer, the more unlimited their learning potential. At Blue House Nursery & International Preschool, our ‘Karung Guni’ or recycling Atelier, is a way for our children to access a wide, unique, unusual and varied set of open-ended materials from which to create, express, build and construct their knowledge. Utilising recycled materials also provides children with a healthy respect for the environment, understanding that many materials can be re-purposed and re-imagined, whilst caring for our world.
DIY Easter Craft Activity with Recycled Materials
Anything you can find at home: tissue boxes, toilet rolls, pieces of fabric, metal, wire, corks, sponges, bottles and bottle tops
Step 1 – Collect and recycle a large old box, container or wire basket from home that you can use to store your Karung Guni items. This way, the materials and resources for your child’s craft activities will always be accessible, tidy and inspiring.
Step 2 – Collect and recycle small and large containers such as take-away food containers, food storage items, jars or paper bags that you can use to store smaller resources such as bottle tops or corks, for example.
Step 3 – Choose a small place in your home with your child where they would like to create their ‘Karung Guni’. This could be a place where they can keep all of their materials, perhaps alongside some other useful materials such as tape, glue, scissors and pens and pencils. The key is to ensure this space is always accessible for your child – not things that are high on shelves where they’ll need an adult to assist! You want to allow your child to take ownership of this space, to feel proud of it and connected to it.
Step 4 – Set up your Karung Guni. You and your child might like to group resources, or colour code them for example. The more beautifully and practically the space and materials are presented, the more inspired your child will be to create with them! Be careful not to over clutter your space — if the area looks like a mess, your child will not feel inspired to connect with it.
Step 5 – Talk with your child about Easter, perhaps read a book or connect with nature and images of new birds hatching! From these images, you might like to ask your child if they would like to create their own nest of hatching birds from their Karung Guni resources. When we provide children with open-ended invitations such as these, we are empowering them to use their voice. We are encouraging them to see themselves as important, with opinions and ideas to share, and we are demonstrating how much we value them by inviting them and listening to them. We are not prescribing what their nest or birds must look like! You might like to ask your child:
– Why do birds (and other animals) build nests?
– How do they build nests? What materials do they use? How long does it take?
– What does the process of nest making looks like ? (Perhaps find a you tube clip of a time lapse video of birds in action).
– If you were a bird what would your nest look like? How many eggs can it fit in? What will the egg hatch into?
Step 6 – Support your child in bringing their creation to life! Whether it be a painting, shoebox nest, sculpture, mask or even something completely new and creative, try to allow your child to be free in their expression to create from their imagination. Focus on the process, not the product. It is not important for your child to ‘produce’ something that resembles the nest and birds inspiration. It is, however, important to focus on what your child will get out of the experience.
Imagination is the door to possibility. It is where creativity, ingenuity, and thinking outside the box begin. Imagination fosters cognitive and social development. Imagination is the start of abstract thinking that leads to maths and science discoveries!
Supporting your child through this experience, your child will walk taller knowing you value their voice and their opinions, and that you are beside them to listen and support their place in the world. They will grow in confidence seeing you support their ideas and perhaps display their creations proudly in your home. They will communicate with you through their choices of materials, colours and creative means; you will connect more greatly with the things your child does and does not like doing, so you can continue to support their unique voice and expression. And of course, the wonderful fine motor skills like holding pencils, using scissors and squeezing glue!
You may even like to take your Karung Guni one step further by designating a wall or shelf in your home for displaying your children’s work. It is incredible the confidence that comes from children seeing their work valued and displayed for all to share in (IKEA curtain wire such as pictured here is a great option!!).