Junk Play

Successful junk play usually arises from a free activity involving a well-filled box of assorted objects, a supply of suitable adhe-sives and other joining agents, a few well-chosen tools and enough adult supervision to give a helping hand if necessary (but not so much that the children turn to the adult for ideas as well as help). Depending on the age and experience of the children what they do can range from indiscriminate glueing together of boxes to producing an object which was carefully thought out and the necessary bits and pieces collected before starting. The usual behaviour of nursery-age children falls somewhere between these two limits. Thus what children achieve depends very largely on how interesting and varied are the materials contained in the box. If it holds nothing but egg boxes, toilet-roll tubes and yogurt pots there is a limit to what can be done. If it contains a wide variety of interesting materials and shapes which are frequently added to and changed this is much more exciting. A paper carrier bag hooked on to the back of a kitchen cupboard door could be used to collect the hundreds of items, large and small, which so often end up in the dustbin. They will end up in the dustbin anyway but a temporary diversion of material via the junk table, always provided each item is clean and safe, can be very valuable.

Apart from a well-stocked box – or, for nursery groups, an old tea trolley sectioned with suitable tins or boxes to hold sorted material – a special tin is needed to hold glue, stapler, rubber bands, brown sticky paper tape, Sellotape, wire twisters, brass paper clips, wire paper clips, a coil of fairly thin wire, wire cut-ters, good quality scissors and Blue-Tack adhesive. A hole-punch, riveting punch and eyelet punch count as luxuries but would be very useful. The best kind of adhesive would be PVA as it sticks most materials and can be washed from clothes. It is cheapest when bought in gallon containers but is best presented by decanting it into medium-sized, well-washed shampoo bottles with a squirter top which can be removed to pour m the glue and then replaced before use. Finished creations can be painted with powder paint mixed with this same glue.

Protection of children and of the floor should be as common-sense indicates. Limiting the number of aprons and insisting they are worn is a good way of controlling the number of children as for all other activities.