Develop Your Child’s Creativity with Junk Modelling

Go through your house and it’s very likely you’ll find several cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, tins, etc., lying around. To you, these are all junk; but what many adults understandably classify as junk or rubbish could actually play a key role in their children’s early years, if properly utilised.

So what does junk modelling mean, and how can you promote it in order to develop your child’s creativity and support their overall development? Let’s find out.

Junk Modelling

What Junk Modelling is All About

Junk modelling is all about using recyclable materials from households and businesses to create a wide range of arts, crafts, toys and so on. It’s one of the best ways to inspire creativity in children, keep them productively engaged, give them a fun time, help them develop or improve certain skills, and teach them about waste and recycling – all at the same time.

During this non-directed type of play called junk modelling, a child is given access to a variety of common household resources which – with the help of tools or craft supplies like scissors and tape – they have the freedom to break apart, combine, adapt, and redesign as they see fit. 

The result is that the child, guided by their imagination, and sometimes maybe an idea or two from a peer or an adult, ends up creating exciting things, like small replicas of buildings, furniture, vehicles, animals, etc.

Because recyclable materials are readily available, free, and offer children the flexibility to do/create whatever they want (which is not the case with ready-made toys), junk modelling provides creative opportunities limited only by the imagination; and by exploring these opportunities children learn a lot.

Preparing for Junk Modelling

It will take a bit of preparation for you to effectively support your child’s junk modelling. You can start by sourcing anything you can think of that children will find interesting. Some of the junk will be available in your home, others you may have to source from your local grocery shops.

From recyclable household items to natural objects, there are lots of open-ended resources you can make available to your child. Think plastic pill containers; plastic water or juice bottles; yoghurt bowls; cardboard boxes of various sizes and thickness, like shoe boxes and wine cartons; tissue paper tubes; the lid or cork from milk bottles, wine bottles, etc.; lollipop sticks; old fabric; broken jewelry; beads; old buttons; nuts, bolts and keys that are no longer in use; shells, feathers, and seed pods.

In terms of the tools or craft supplies that’d help them separate, shape, join, decorate or design these junk items, scissors, glue, adhesive tape, strings, paint, stapler, pen, crayon, marker, and maybe even playdough, will do.

By building a collection of ordered resources to be used for junk modelling, you and your child can approach it in a more organised way; and based on what the child wants to create for a particular activity, you can always help them select the right materials for the task from the collection.

Making Junk Modelling Safe

Junk Modelling  Kids

Your involvement in your child’s junk modelling is necessary not just so you can provide some of the required materials, guidance and maybe ideas, but also for you to ensure safety.

If, for example, your child has an egg or nut allergy, take care that any egg cartons or containers that previously had nuts in them, are well-cleaned before first use. If the junk modelling activity will involve the use of old fabrics for instance, make sure these are free of accumulated dust which may cause your child bouts of sneezing and discomfort.

If you ever have to source junk from a factory, ensure none was previously used to package toxic substances. Examine all plastic and metal materials like aluminum cans, and even pieces of wood, to verify there are no sharp or pointed edges which could cut or prick your child. Wire wool and sand paper can respectively be used to smoothen the edges on aluminum cans and scrape out rough sections of wood.

For very young children, take care that their junk modelling activities don’t include very small items like buttons which they could easily swallow. If they must model with such items, be sure to supervise them strictly.

Using care and good judgement while collecting and using junk modelling resources ensures a pleasant and safe experience.

The Benefits of Junk Modelling

As is to be expected, junk modelling as a play activity is very beneficial – even in ways you may not think of at first. Apart from the fact that it’s a good way for children to express themselves and have fun, the following are some of the most notable benefits of modelling with junk.

Enhanced creativity

Perhaps the biggest benefit of junk modelling is its positive effect on a child’s creativity. As they engage in such an activity, children get to exercise their imagination, then come up with ideas and designs which they then implement to make something out of nothing.

Faster physical development 

Junk modelling which involves manipulating tools like scissors, tying strings, etc., is one of the best ways to develop fine motor skills, and even gross motor skills when bigger movements are made.

Improved STEM skills

As they try to realise their imaginations using a variety of materials, children get to learn about, and appreciate, the differences between the basic properties of these objects, such as weight and thickness.

Better language and communication skills

Getting children to talk about their project while they work, by asking them questions or making comments, enables them to practice and improve their speech and communication skills, while learning new vocabulary.

Improved problem-solving ability; boosted confidence

During the junk modelling process, children usually encounter several challenges that cause them to pause and think of solutions. So the more they engage in this kind of play, the more they become better at problem solving, and this naturally boosts their confidence.

Indeed, the benefits of junk modelling is not limited to children. This open-ended activity will give you insight into your child’s interests, which you’ll need when it’s time for you to introduce them to interest-based learning. So think twice before you throw all that “junk” away.