Thursday, January 17, 2013

Garbage Into Gold

This is a tip I've shared before, but it's worth repeating: if you ask nicely, framing shops are usually willing to give you their matboard scrapes, even whole sheets of slightly damaged matboard. And if you hit them at the right moment, sometimes they'll give you a lot of it. For instance, we've currently been working though a single massive matboard donation for over a year.

If you're a grown man without a child in tow, they'll usually show you to their supply and allow you to carry away all you want. I learned last year that if I instead send a mother with two young children in my place, they'll even haul the stuff to your car for you.

I write a lot here about how much we rely upon the kindness of strangers and how, indeed, this is one of the primary societal functions of preschools: not to use stuff, but to finish using it.

When we moved into our new digs a year and a half ago, members of the Fremont Baptist Church, our incredible landlords who turned out in numbers to help us with the move, joked with me that we had an admirable rubbish collection. And this is true: a full 50 percent of what sits on our storage room shelves at any given moment are literally various rubbish collections, which I keep in an organized, albeit not so tidy manner in little bundles and boxes.

And then there is the true garbage, the stuff that is really, really garbage. The stuff that not even my mom saves for me. To whit: 

This is the garbage we use for white glue and glue gun collage. As everyone knows, I'm a strong advocate for the glue gun as a tool for preschoolers, but there's still a place for regular old glue. It's quite inexpensive and as the adult you don't have to remain quite as diligent about safety. Not to mention that a lot of kids can't get enough of bottle squeezing.

I always make a point of reminding our art parent that their primary "job" is to keep the glue bottles full: that there is no such thing as waste or "too much" when it comes to white glue. In fact, if you really want the thing in the end to hold together, you need a lot of glue on there. Tidy little dots won't do the trick. If I want to conserve glue or otherwise control glue use, I present it in bowls or baby food jars with brushes. If I'm trying to avoid mess altogether, it's glue sticks.

A group project like the one in these pictures is one that will typically run for 4-5 classroom sessions, although not necessarily consecutive sessions because I like to let it dry completely in between. This helps ensure that it doesn't just get picked apart. Sometimes I'll augment the true garbage with some of the classier stuff. Here you see, I broke out the egg cartons. Typically, when it feels like its run it's course, I'll carefully show it to the kids during circle time and we'll decide whether or not we want to keep going. Once we've reached the "all done" point, we'll finish it off with paint or glitter. Some of the kids know I have old cans of gold and silver spray paint in the storage room so they'll want to use that.

Naturally, given the toxicity of spray paint, I'll wait until the kids have gone for the day, then take it outdoors. When the kids arrive the following day, they'll find it transformed: garbage into gold.

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Toril said...

I think I have forgotten to tell you how much I appreciate your posts! They inspire me in my work in a Kindergarten in Bergen, Norway:-) Thank you!

Best wishes, Toril

Ms.Mac said...

Fun post and I couldn't agree more. I can not seem to keep enough recyclables in the art center for my students..