Finding junk – Behind the play

A quick FAQ about our junk…

Where do you get your junk from?

We get it from a variety of places…

  • The bulk is from our local dump shop, recycling centre, or resource centre. We find that they have the largest selection and cheapest prices.
  • We buy some from op shops but this can get expensive. 
  • We find some on the side of the road if we have space in your boot, and the kids don’t complain too much!
  • We have been known to dumpster dive.
  • We get donated goods from friends, colleagues and neighbours. You do need to be selective about this, as we can get people wanting to offload ALL of their junk. Make sure you check it’s usable before saying yes to everything!

Do you clean the Junk?

Absolutely! We water blast it after purchase, and then leave it in the sunshine to get rid of bacteria. We clean our junk if it gets really muddy, or on an annual basis regardless. It does spend lots of time in the sunshine, so this decreases the chances of germs moving between schools.

What happens if your junk gets wet or muddy?

That’s a tough one. We try to avoid the mud with our junk as it takes us about 3 days to water blast and dry it all out. We also avoid playing in heavy rain, as the junk  can get stinky if we pack it up wet. If the grounds are muddy, we stick to court areas, and we use playgrounds for kids to make swings and zip-lines on. Creating a mud kitchen with loose parts on the other hand is a whole other story. In that case loose parts, rain and mud are a great mix!

What’s your top tip when selecting loose parts?

To start with, avoid anything with glass, batteries, or that looks like it can break easily. Look for items that will have a long life expectancy. Heavy duty plastics are great as they can get thrown around. Wooden items can break if thrashed about, but they can also be easily repaired. Avoid anything that looks like it would take ages to dry if it gets wet. Metal pots and pans are great as they don’t tend to break, but can get dented when kids make music. 

We like to think about schema/urges when selecting loose parts. For instance we have been thinking lately about the transformation urge and have been putting out more fabric, belts, hard hats, and bags to encourage role play.

How often do you top up your loose parts?

This is a regular occurrence.  We do small top ups on a fortnightly basis and then a big trip to the  tip shop once a term. Things do get broken and lost. Like any classroom resource you need to feed it if you want the programme to last.

How do you avoid broken junk going into landfill?

Firstly, we talk about this with the kids before the play. One of our rules is that we respect the junk. We talk about a circular economy and how we want the junk to keep being used to avoid landfill. If we see the kids being rough with items, we remind them of our rules. If that doesn’t work then we take the junk away and redirect them somewhere else.

Does the junk get dangerous when it’s broken?

Yes it can. We talk about this too with kids before they play. If they see anything with broken edges, then they should come let us know. We also check all our junk for broken items at the start and end of sessions. 

Thanks for reading, keep playing playful people! 

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