Why you need to use junk for creativity
If you walked into my store cupboard at home you would think...
"What a load
There are scraps of foil, boxes of feathers, sponges, cardboard boxes, bits of material, pipe lagging. It's all lying there - usually in a big mess - not on the shelves where it's supposed to be.. (oops!)
You would never know that, in the hands of children, these objects become marvellous and magical.
These objects are powerful in their potential because of the way children see them. They are powerful because we witness their transformation. Children can bring junk to life in the most unusual and inspiring ways. It becomes alive in their minds, each child having their own creative adventure in that moment with that object. Who is to say what is happening in any of the imaginations of the children in the film above? But their faces say it all... "I am absorbed, I am engaged, I am learning".
Each abstract object is pregnant
And it's the lack of the object's specific meaning or role that makes it so exciting and so full of possibility. It's as Owen states in his chapter on Creative Development in The Early Years Foundation Stage. Theory and Practice:
"it is the lack of specificity that gives us space to make decisions about and determine it's character and identity"
Junk is there to stimulate that open ended play.
The British architect Simon Nicholson coined the term “loose parts” to describe open-ended materials that can be used and manipulated in many ways (1971). “In any environment,” he writes,
“both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it”.
Ref: Owen, N. 2010. Creative Development. In Palaiologou, I. 2011 The Early Years Foundation Stage. Theory and Practice. London: Sage
Nicholson, N. 1971 How not to cheat children: Then theory of loose parts.