Creation Station: Working with Recycled Materials

Creation Station

In the Reggio Emilia approach, found materials and objects are used in an effort to provide children open ended invitations to play, construct and explore. Engagement with open ended materials enables them to create the unknown, think outside of the box and problem solve. Creativity and collaboration are inherent aspects of these experiences.

This week we launched our Creation Station.  The Creation Station is an area of our classroom devoted to upcycling.  By definition, to upcycle is to reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original.  After reading the book My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks by Hanoch Piven and studying the work of this famous upcycler, we discussed the reasons why we might stock our Creation Station with recycled and found materials.  We then read the book Iggy Peck Architect by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts. We discussed what it is to be an architect and  used this as a segue to discuss the process that the children will undergo when signing up to work at the Creation Station.  Inspired by the engineering design process, we follow these steps when working at the Creation Station:

  1. Ask – What will I build and why?
  2. Imagine – Imagine the possibilities for my design
  3. Plan – What is my plan for my creation; What materials will I need?
  4. Create – Begin the building process
  5. Improve – Evaluate my design as I go; Make my design stronger and change anything that is not working


Our Process

When the Beavers visit the Creation Station they are asked to first imagine what they would like to create.  Next we ask them to plan their design.  For four and five year olds, the notion of “planning” before creating is not always a natural one.  To encourage more thoughtful creations, they use special “planning paper” (wide gauge graph paper), to create a blueprint for their design.  When they deem it finished they then seek approval by the Design Planning Committee (the teachers).  At this stage, we reflect with them on their plan, discussing possible next steps or additional details they might add.  Once it has been given the green-light, we give them a signed sticker of approval, and the children begin to build.  At the Creation Station, there are an array of recycled materials for building, as well as, a bin full of  “Connectors” for attaching materials togethers. Available to them as connectors are  masking tape, wire and pipe cleaners.  We have chosen these specific connectors as they encourage the children to problem solve as they fasten things together.  As they work, they experience moments of frustration, followed by moments of immense pride.  The following is a list of some of the cognitive and social-emotional benefits involved in working at the Creation Station.

  • The value of process over product
  • Creativity and Problem Solving Skills
  • Collaboration
  • Spatial planning
  • Engineering
  • Resiliency
  • Stamina
  • Fine Motor Development
  • Frustration Tolerance

We have been so inspired watching your children at the Creation Station this week.  Their process is busy, purposeful and focused.  Please be warned, the pile of trash you may see your child bringing home, is no trash at all! It’s their hard work and most imaginative creation.  We look forward to watching your children develop as young engineers.



The opening of the Creation Station marks the official launch of our Recycled Arts Program. In order for our recycled arts program to be successful, we will need your help! Below, please find a list of materials that would be great additions.  Please note, all materials must be clean and free of food particles.  Please bring donations to school in bags, and we will store and sort them in our classroom.  We will begin accepting donations this Monday, so please start saving! We look forward to using your “trash” to create new “treasures!”

 Donation List

Toys & Supplies:

  • Puzzles: missing pieces, wooden boards
  • Balls: golf, tennis, ping-pong and marbles
  • Scrabble tiles, boggle cubes and board game pieces

Stuff Around the House:

  • Baskets, wooden trays and clear containers
  • Corks: from wine & champagne bottles
  • Bottle caps: juice, beer, colorful and shiny
  • Bottles: shampoo & conditioner bottles, soap bottles, dish soap bottles etc.
  • Cardboard tubes: from paper towel and toilet paper rolls
  • Paper: maps, graph paper, stationery, stamps, handmade, stickers, labels, envelopes and note cards
  • Glass jars with lids: mason, baby food, pickle jars, jam jars, NO jars from Nuts
  • Bicycle wheels or anything with repeated openings for weaving: grind shelving
  • Old cell phones, iPods, remote controls, keyboards, typewriters, telephones, watch, and clock parts
  • Coils, light switch boards, wires, springs, pipe pieces
  • Cellophane, acrylic & plexiglass
  • Boxes: film, cigar, accessory, sturdy and various shapes
  • Metal: keys, rings, wire, nuts, bolts and rings
  • Small baking tins, cookie cutters and molds
  • Spools: from thread, wire and ribbon
  • Beads & Buttons
  • Old cd, dvd, floppy disc
  • Carpet, tile, paint and fabric samples
  • Yarn, ribbon, trimming, string, thread, rope, neckties and scarves
  • Clear plastic: tubing, beakers, egg carton holders and squeeze bottles
  • Packing materials

From Nature

  • Coral, shells and sea glass
  • Driftwood, bark pieces, branches, twigs, sticks, acorns, pine cones and leaves
  • Abandoned birds nest, snakeskin, starfish, fossils
  • Gourds, seeds, seedpods and chestnuts
  • Pebbles, rocks and gravel
  • Flowers: fresh, dried, moss, grasses and vines


























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