Friday, March 1, 2013


Re-Use, Re-create, Re-Imagine

. . . Re-Craft

We are Re-Craft is a small volunteer group of students from OCADU who seek to show children the positive experiences in using recycled materials in their daily craft activities. Re-Craft organizes experiences for students, drawing upon their education and past crafting trials & errors they help the kids learn how to repurpose materials to create projects and have fun.

The Re-Craft pop-up experience took place on Wednesday, February 6th at St Simon’s Church in St Jamestown, Toronto. The team arrived at 3:15 in the afternoon to set up before the kids got in from school. Each team member brought recycled materials collected from home as well as old art supplies we no longer use. We also received recycled contributions from the staff members at the church. By the time everything was set up, two tables and even some floor space underneath were filled with all kinds of recycled materials - more than enough to get us through the activity! Our team hung up 6 large posters above the children’s coat area for them to see some craft ideas and continue to be inspired by after the event.

When the children started to roll in (approximately 20 in total) they noticed all of the fun things on the tables catching their attention and were curious about the event. The team waited briefly for the children to have their after school snacks before beginning the Re-Craft introductions. Archana, the program manager divided the children into four groups and quieted down the children. She introduced the Re-Craft team then we took over and explained how the afternoon was going to go. We began with a Mad-Lib story we wrote. Each team member read out a different section of the story to the children. We called upon the children to fill in the blanks of the story which took approximately 15 minutes. 
The children enjoyed answering the questions and laughed at each others’ crazy answers. We showed the children craft examples prepared ahead of time to inspire the children how to get creative with unconventional materials.

Adelle had made a large tree from plastic bottles with twisted and taped newspaper for bark. She also made a monster from a yogurt container, toilet paper rolls and cut up newspaper. Samantha had made a bouquet of flowers from pipe cleaners, cardboard, tissue paper, fabric and paint. Later on the children went back to look closely at the items which were also left them at the church for future inspiration.

Once the story was filled in, each team member took on a group and Samantha and Alicia paired up together for one. Each group was assigned an element to create from the story. The four elements included: the monster, the wandering character, the garbage truck and the house with a garden. After everyone's group understood what they were making, we sourced recycled materials and art supplies that would be useful for the group while the children waited for the material to be brought back to the tables. Archana encouraged this to avoid chaos from all the children storming the supplies at once. Each leader collected things like paint, paper, cardboard, glitter, brushes, glue, and then discussed with the children how they could begin working on their element of the story.

With materials collected, we encouraged the children do anything they could think of with the materials provided in order to make the project more interesting and fitting for the story. The provided paper plates, white glue, paper cups, and paint brushes were top choices when constructing and decorating the pieces. The tables quickly turned into fun messy atmospheres with all children working and showing interest in the activity. We supervised and helped the kids completing their ideas. In addition to Archana, there were high school students and adult volunteers helping at each table which made the event run smoothly. Each table’s craft turned out very differently but all of the projects were full of imagination. The event was exciting because it was fluid and spontaneous - the children were not restricted by rules or instructions and could experiment and imagine. The children had a great time exploring ideas and working with the large variety of materials. Some highlights were the sequins, styrofoam balls and flower garden magazine page cutouts, and muffin tin cups. The children were excited by the new ways to use these common items and loved being able to do whatever they wanted to create something new.
The Re-Craft team had a wonderful day with the children and felt like the activity was worth the effort and organizing. The team was happy that the kids had fun and were engaged during the hour and a half activity. This pop-up experience was a success and the team would love to volunteer and organize projects similar in the future.

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