Everyday materials can be used in a wide range of ways to promote learning. Everyday materials include recycled containers, paper and cardboard items as well as household objects used in new ways.
Save and collect everyday materials
• Wrapping paper
• Greeting cards
• Cardboard boxes and packets
• Cardboard cylinders
• Corrugated and plain card
• Plastic bottles and containers
• Polystyrene food trays
• Material scraps and pieces
• Lace, ribbon, wool
• Patty pans
• Plastic straws
• Rice, penne pasta
• Coloured streamers
• Tapestry needles or bodkins
• Paper plates (not waxed)
• Sticky tape
• PVA glue
Ways to use recycled materials
• Make collages by gluing items onto materials such as paper, cardboard or fabric
• Print using leaves, corrugated cardboard or other items
• Make box constructions by gluing or sticky taping boxes together and gluing materials onto the box construction.
• Threading and cutting experiences.
• Making pretend play props.
Children use everyday materials to explore and develop their understanding of the elements of art such as colour, texture, line and shape, and represent their own ideas.
Natural materials can be used in a wide range of ways to promote wonder, curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. As children make and explore collections of natural materials such as leaves, seeds, bark and rocks, they are able to actively investigate scientific concepts, be imaginative and creative.
Collect natural materials
• Go for a nature walk around the backyard, neighbourhood or park.
• Look carefully at the ground, flowers, trees and paths.
• Start a collection of natural things such as rocks, stones, leaves, bark, feathers, seed pods, sticks and straw.
Ways to use natural materials
• Sort the collection into groups such as type, where they were found, colour, size and shape.
• Match items that feel similar (e.g. rough, smooth) or look similar (shape, colour).
• Add to playdough or clay to provide opportunities for your child to combine materials (e.g. use seed pods
for eyes, sticks for arms and legs).
• Create leaf rubbings to observe shapes and patterns (e.g. place leaf under blank paper and rub with crayon or pastel).
• Create a collage by arranging natural objects and use PVA to glue them to card.
Supporting your child’s learning
• Encourage your child to use their senses when outdoors What can you see? What can you hear? What can you smell?
• Invite your child to dig in the dirt with garden tools to see what they can discover and collect (e.g. rocks, sticks).
• Talk about the kinds of materials you have collected What was the most common? What was hard to find? Which ones grow?
• Encourage your child to ask questions Why do the leaves change colour? How are rocks made? and help them find answers by asking a relative or using the internet.
• Provide a magnifying glass so your child can observe properties such as shape, colour, texture and pattern.
• Introduce scientific language such as veins, stem, dead, alive.
• Help your child to count the groups or the number of items in each group.
• Discuss ways to respect the environment such as collecting leaves on the ground rather than picking them and walking on a path so you do not crush seedlings.
• Store materials in clear plastic containers or snap lock bags for easy access.
The great outdoors is full of interesting natural materials waiting to be discovered. Exploring outdoor materials provides opportunities for children to learn to care for and respect their environment.
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