In Element 3.22 of the National Quality Standard it states that “resources, materials and equipment are sufficient” and “allow for multiple uses”. Element 3.3.2 also requires that children are supported to become environmentally responsible and show respect for the environment.

This workshop presented by Penny Birdsall explores the way in which we can source different materials, re-purpose them and present them to children in interesting ways that encourage creativity and enhance curiosity.

Penny passionately advocates the "Loose parts Theory", a theory developed by architect Simon Nicholson who believed that the immediate materials in our environment can have multiple uses and empower creativity. He states that materials can be taken apart, redesigned, organised and reconstructed to make new uses. This process is thought to encourage curiosity and creativity in the learning environment.

Above: A finished creation of an art project developed with children, educators and families from a regional child care centre for 'waste to art' community project.

Above: Participants of the workshop were asked to create an aesthetically pleasing way for displaying a variety of different loose parts of recycled materials for children to engage with.

From boxes to bubble wrap to natural sources such as leaves, the workshop will explore the recycling of the abundance of materials around us that can be repurposed for creative activities for children. Penny will explore the Reggio Amelia approach to recycling where we can encourage a child's curiosity to learn by supporting them in an innovative and inspiring environment.

Penny's tip on how to get started at your centre:

Involve children and parents by asking them to bring a bag of recycled materials from home, these can be a range of materials from pebbles to plastic bottles. After these materials are gathered it is important to organise these items into different categories and storage containers at your centre. This will help the materials be more aesthetically pleasing to help children to engage with these materials.

Click here to register for this event.

See all our professional learning events here.


Penny is an Early Childhood Professional with over twenty five years experience in a variety of Early Childhood Settings in both New South Wales and Queensland. She has been an Early Childhood Teacher, Director, Manager, Tutor and Adult Education Assessor and Trainer within the Tafe system. She has worked for community based, council, private and large non profit organisations. For more information visit

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Our children are our greatest hope... every thinking person must realise that when this bitter strife is over we must build up a better world, and it is only through the children that this can be done.

- Lady Zara Gowrie


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