Monday, May 7, 2012

3 R's: Recycle, Reuse and Re-purpose!

Hi y'all! I'm Ayn and I am a Ga. Pre-K teacher, serving 4 and 5 year olds in an inclusive setting. I share my classroom adventures on my blog, little illuminations

In my post last month here on PreK +K Sharing, I shared "5 Simple Ways To Help Your Child Love The Earth".  My last tip in the post was to re-use and re-purpose materials. Today, I'll share a few of the ways we've re-purposed materials for activities in our classroom recently.

Marker Experiment:

  In an early childhood classroom, markers frequently dry out after tops have been lost or forgotten. We don't throw out those "dead" markers. Put one in a rinsed and filled water bottle (also re-purposed). Watch how the ink streams down from the marker. It's a pretty cool experiment, and you get a bonus sensory bottle when you are done!

Imaginative Play Props:

  Our school frequently gets deliveries in big boxes that are broken down and set out for recycling. I like to use them whenever possible to make little props for centers about whatever we are learning at the time. Here's a little car and gas pump we made for our transportation unit.

We also made a little garage from another box.

Storage and General Classroom Use:

  I ask for the little plastic baby food containers from our infant room when they are through with them. They are perfect for storing paint on the easel, holding small items in our art center, like confetti, googly eyes, tissue squares and sequins. We also use them for little experiments and for water dishes when painting.

  These little trays have become an essential classroom material. One of our former parents brings them in from the hospital. They are used to hold sterile surgical instruments and once opened, must be discarded. We use them for paint, loose materials, crayons, almost everything!

Ramp Play/ Race Track:

  This rain gutter was about $3 for one long piece. I asked the building center that I purchased it from to cut it into several smaller pieces. I've had these in my class for a couple of years now and am constantly impressed with how the children use them in play. We've used them outside in water play, as a track for marbles and as ramps for cars and trucks.

Outdoor Sand buckets: 

  Many of the coffee cans these days are sturdy plastic and have a very sturdy handle. The children tote them about the playground to collect things, carry sand and other materials and to "cook" favorite dishes and cakes.

Bubble Wands:

Kitchen implements make fantastic bubble wands! Spatulas, whisks and potato mashers of all types can all make wonderful bubbles! (And note the specialty tray to hold our bubbles!)

Musical Instruments:

We have a variety of "drums" in our music center that range from espresso cans, tissue boxes, oatmeal cans, orange juice containers to coffee cans.

The cans are often "borrowed" for use in our art center for tracing circles.

During our rain forest unit, we made this cool rainstick from a pool noodle, toothpicks, tape and rice. I offered the children a variety of fillings from beans to rice to beads.

There are so many things around you, just waiting to be re-purposed. What have you re-purposed lately?

Stop by and visit me anytime at or visit the little illuminations fanpage on facebook!



  1. I simply LOVE the pool noodle rain stick idea. Would never have thought of that myself. So much of what we do is finding uses for things that are usually used for something else.
    Great post :)

  2. What great ideas, Ayn! I pinned your post to the collaborative Earth Day Every Day Pinterest board at


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