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One Man's Trash is a Kindergartener's Treasure: 5 ways to use trash as a tool for learning

November 13, 2014
By Megan Bundy

One Man’s Trash is a Kindergartner’s Treasure:

5 ways to use trash as a tool for learning


As I watched the kids pack up to go home, I could tell by their squirmy bodies and glazed-over eyes that it had been a long day. I inspected the tidy classroom and gave the okay to play until it was time to go home. I was certain they’d jump straight to the toys and bask in their freedom. However, to my surprise they chose to pull out empty food containers and recycled Wal-Mart bags and recreate the math lesson from earlier that day. Who would have thought one man’s trash could be a kindergartener’s treasure! Making learning fun for your kindergartener does not have to bust the bank account; here are five creative ways to use your trash as a tool for learning.  

1. Busting the Bubble Wrap

Hand over the bubble wrap and let your child destroy it! The key is using fingertips to pop the bubbles. This activity will build your child’s fine motor skills, giving them a stronger grip on their pencil and control as they write.  


2. No Way! A Use for Junk Mail

Finally there is a use for junk mail! Let your kindergartener tear it up, cut it into pieces, or role play as a mail carrier and then cut it into pieces.  Using scissors on thick packets and envelopes will make your child’s fingers stronger and cutting on the lines in school easier. Don’t forget to remind your kiddo that demolishing things with scissors should only be done with an adult’s permission. It would not be fun to see their next art project cut into pieces.

3. Pretend Grocery Store

Old boxes of cereal, pasta, and Little Debbie snack make a great pretend grocery stores. This activity encourages creative play and will enrich your child on several different levels. Using coins is a great way to review counting, addition, and coin values. Handling coins with finger tips will also develop fine motor skills.  A grocery store is a great platform to teach manners. It is important to teach your child how to play and act out the customer and cashier first and then watch them run with it!


4. Old Egg Carton

Use an old egg carton to sort or count small objects. Label the bottom 1-12 and have your kindergartener fill it with dry beans according to the number. When you’re finishe,d cut it up and make a caterpillar train or boat!

5. Creative Play

Create an art space in your home. Kids love making things out of “junk.”  Time and again I’ve watched my kindergarteners create crowns, walkie-talkies, and space ships out of scrap paper and old boxes. On a small table, set up scissors, glue, crayons, and a basket designated for scraps, containers, and junk mail. You will be amazed at what your child can come up with! Using trash for creative play teaches your kindergartener to be resourceful and think outside of the box, or should I say inside of the box!


Edie says:
November 14, 2014 08:36 AM CST

I SO love this! I have such fond memories of my own kindergarten teacher and all the creative ways she taught us.  We are so blessed to have you, Mrs. Bundy!