Junk modelling offers opportunities for developing children’s creativity, as well as their fine and gross motor skills. Using recycled materials, children can build and create their own designs. When junk modelling children are able to construct freely, this can give an insight into children’s interests and fascinations. Junk modelling is important because it involves exercising the imagination, problem-solving, designing, communicating, self-expression, trial and error, sharing, resilience, happiness and building knowledge.
Junk modelling is important to children’s learning because it shifts children from thinking about what something is and what it is for to a higher level of thinking, such as posing a hypothesis, conceptualisation, and questioning. Junk modelling allows children to be free to explore because the resources are free. They encourage ludic thinking, playful thinking and “what ifs?”. They are becoming scientists! Using different types of recycled objects enables children to learn about the basic properties of everyday materials – such as plastic, paper, cardboard, metal and wood – through a hands-on approach. They are learning by doing. How is plastic different from cardboard? Can you cut it? Stick it? Is it strong? Is it waterproof? It offers a first experience at manipulating and therefore understanding materials. It’s not junk modelling, it’s engineering! Children are learning how materials work, how they fix together and how they can be used to fulfil ideas. This is engineering and engineering thinking.