#Recycleforplay – small plastic containers

small plastic containers – tip sheet (1)

So much of our food comes packaged in plastic containers: yogurt, sour cream, butter, margarine, cereal, nuts, fruit, icing, etc. And once we use the product, we toss the container into our recycling bin. But what could children be doing with those empty containers before they are recycled?

You’ll want to clean the food out from inside the container before its utilized for play. Most of them will clean easily with some soap and hot water. But you can also put them in the top rack of your dishwasher to get them “extra” clean.

It wasn’t very long ago, in a place just a little far away, where we don’t normally play, that someone used many of these types of containers to build a triangle shaped tower wider and taller than a toddler. Many times during the process, the builder would have sections collapse, but then he would reposition some of the containers and rebuild. About 45 minutes after starting, the builder called it completed and invited others to marvel at the creation. One of those admirers was a toddler and when the toddler saw the structure, neck stretching was required to see the top. Head turning, both left and right, was needed for the toddler to see both ends. The toddler’s face expressed delight to find this structure built so wide and tall. It was constructed with care and diligence, and more containers than anyone wanted to count. Then in the blink of an eye, that toddler hatched a plan, and with delight and one swift motion, knocked down the structure which scattered the containers. The builder was not upset by this, but rather delighted also. Now the containers were available to build another structure!

You see building with an assortment of these small nonuniformed sized containers provides a unique set of problems to solve. Discovering a problem and determining a solution to that problem is learning.  Inspire and engage this type of learning by asking “How tall will your tower be? If we work together, will it be taller than me? Can we make it longer and taller than the couch? I wonder how many containers we will need?”

Building play is not the only way to utilize small plastic containers. But it is certainly a unique way to utilize the materials in your recycle bin before they are taken away.

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