Junk Modelling

A seemingly simple activity with a load of old junk has a wealth of benefits for growing minds and children’s imaginations. It's a very tactile activity that depends on touch and texture.

By selecting individual items from a large collection and using those items to create a personal object, a child is enjoying free expression, using lateral thought and specialised design skills. The ability to model random shapes and materials into meaningful 3D objects gives young children an immense amount of self-confidence and a real sense of achievement.

They will need to visualise the end result and make the transition from rubbish to model using a whole range of fine and gross motor skills.

There may be problems to be solved along the way, a degree of patience will be needed and if the activity is a group activity, the young modellers need to learn to share, negotiate ownership of the raw materials and socialise with their co-workers

Junk modelling is also a very early lesson in recycling. It introduces the idea that even things that we have finished using can be turned into something else which is useful and valuable.

Modelling Projects
There are two options available. First, offer the young modellers complete freedom of expression. This is a very good insight into their interests and imaginations. The other approach is to suggest specific projects or themes that can be worked towards. Some good ideas are:
  • Robots - always popular with a very simple structure based on two different sized boxes with added buttons, dials and antennae.
  • Houses - also a good choice. Encourage the modeller to think about their home and how they could try to copy it.
  • Transport, such as planes and cars, provide lots of scope for ideas.
Encouraging children to copy familiar objects encourages them to look at everyday items with fresh eyes. Perhaps you could provide a simple picture of the objects they are trying to copy. Try breaking the objects into separate components or shapes and matching them with the junk items available. Very young children can still model by looking at simple shapes and ideas. Two cardboard rolls are easily transformed into binoculars, for example.

Junk modelling is a versatile craft that offers the opportunity to fine tune a broad range of skills and techniques.
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