Post-Christmas recycling

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By Robert Wattsco-author of Teaching Art and Design 3-11 (Continuum Books) and Programme Convener for the MA Art, Craft and Design Education at Roehampton University

Original article published 21 December 2009

If you find yourself with a glut of recycling materials this New Year, try out these fun D&T ideas that will encourage creative thinking and teamwork

It’s the New Year, a fresh start and – oh no, what’s this? Not another child weighed down by a sack load of Christmas cards, boxes and wrapping paper! Don’t they realise there’s a limit to the number of ideas for recycling materials a teacher can come up with? Never fear, the Resource Bank is here with a selection of practical activities to transform that post-Christmas collection into some amazing structures and works of art. Here you’ll find five ideas to challenge and engage your class, ideas that will prompt children to experiment with basic construction techniques, recognise the unique properties of familiar materials and explore colour, shape, form and pattern.

The activities could easily be taught in parallel, one set up on each table in the classroom. Several need to be completed in pairs, so you could use the ideas as opportunities for children to develop their ability to work in groups. Encourage the children to use the photograph examples as starting points but once they are confident with the techniques and skills for each activity, they will want to develop their own ideas.


  1. Twisting snake
  2. Cardboard castle
  3. Collage
  4. House of cards
  5. Bridge of cards
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