TTL Kids! happily situates itself in The Maker Movement, which can be broadly defined as a collective of people around the world who are employing do-it-yourself or do-it-with-others techniques to develop unique products and devices. Tinkering, coding, building, creating and innovating – together.

This movement rests on makers making their designs open-source and available for anyone to reproduce off Internet sites such as Instructables or Thingiverse. We believe  that getting kids involved in areas that teach the skills and thought processes most likely to be in demand by future job markets is incredibly important.

See Our Maker Education Programs

But more than introducing Young Makers to the latest craze in Lego Bot building or DIY Fidget Spinners, we’re interested in getting Young Makers to think differently. We want to demystify how things work. We want our Young Makers to consider the potential of things, to make what hasn’t yet been made.

One way to do this is to reuse and repurpose. We like to think of reclaiming and repurposing not as interchangeable verbs but as one leading to the other. Our instructors encourage Young Makers to reclaim items – to take items back – from the landfills, from our storage bins of forgotten things, from our junk drawers, and to repurpose them. We want them to rethink what these items can do, what they might be good for, and then give them new purpose, new life. Dustpans and wooden spoons become bot bodies, old circuit boards become lampshades, random washers and fasteners become switches. When we allow our imagination to start seeing the potential in things, we reconsider the purpose of things and we keep our minds flexible. And then maybe, when it’s time to go buy a new, whatever, we use what we have and make it ourselves instead.

Here are a few great upcycling projects to bring that out-side-the-box thinking into the home:

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1) Spool Knitter

Spool knitting is something all kids enjoy – but why go out and buy the spool when kids can make their own out of old popsicle sticks, toilet paper rolls and elastic bands? You can go even more minimal than that by using an old thread spool and some nails.

 

2) Weaving Loom

Old CDs combined with some leftover yarn or yarn from a thrift store can be transformed into the perfect upcycled weaving frame!

 

3) Wind Chimes

Save up those tins cans, find an old someone’s throwing away and you’ve got yourself a project!

 

4) E-jewelry

Electronic e-waste is increasingly becoming a serious problem in the Western world as we continually upgrade our phones, computers and other devices on a regular basis. But, there’s no reason some of that e-waste can’t be repurposed! Over the years of running workshops, we’ve found that kids really enjoy the process of taking apart old electronics to see how they work – and then putting them back together again as jewelry or a keychain!

 

5) Fairy Garden Lights

A little paint and some glitter will jazz up your string of lights during summer night hang outs.

 

6) Suspension Bridge

A feat of engineering, toilet paper rolls and used CDs, this do-it-yourself suspension bridge is sure to get them thinking!

 

7) Bird Feeder

A plastic jug pretty easily becomes a bird feeder! You can also use milk and juice cartons, as well as tin cans.

 

8) Hanging Planter

Make these adorable planters – which can either be hung or sit on a shelf – using plastic bottles.

 

9) No-Sew Tote Bag

Have kids make their own tote bag out of an old pillow case (the handle can be created by braiding old strips of t-shirts). This can also be done using just a t-shirt as well.

 

10) Wallet

This is sure to be a hit – even adults get excited about the possibility of turning an old juice carton into a wallet!

 


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This post was written in collaboration with our Youth Programming Coordinator, Michelle. Michelle’s passion for teaching children combined with her dedication to inquiry-based learning and her education (Ontario College of Teachers certified, Masters of Teaching from Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) make her an important leader in the maker education revolution. View our Workshops For Young Makers online here!