Children playing with waste materials

All over the world, people are finding ways to make play visible in their communities. Groups large and small, from casual to organized, are gathering materials and ideas to promote creative thinking and play.

The Creative Reuse Centre

Many teachers and programs are inspired by Remida, a program started in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Remida “is a place that promotes the idea that waste materials can be resources”.  In other words, many things that we often discard from our homes, and many things that are discarded from manufacturing, can be reimagined as accessories for play. In the words of the Reggio Children Foundation.

Giving value to reject materials to encourage new opportunities

Remida centres have grown beyond Reggio Emilia and include centres for creative reuse all over the world. The Remida project has also inspired other creative reuse centres to pop up around the world: the Art of Recycle curates a list of global scrap stores on their website.

Scrap stores and creative reuse centres are a wonderful source for loose parts and intelligent materials, which promote open-ended play and creative thinking.  These materials can be repurposed in many ways, and when presented to children, they become highly engaging tools of the imagination.

Why reuse items?

The items found at scrap stores are ready for new life, and children’s imaginations are ready to create that life for them. When children are presented with the unknown, they use information they have already gathered about the world to embark on an exploration. Because each child has their own experiences with the world, they also get to have their own experiences with materials. For one child, a long plastic tube becomes a telescope; for another, it becomes a cherry picking pole; for another, the tube makes a line on the ground along which the child lays small stones. None of these ideas are incorrect, and all of them are highly engaging learning experiences, where the child is trying different ideas about their culture and surroundings on for size.

A long plastic tube becomes a telescope; for another, it becomes a cherry picking pole

Reuse materials give children the opportunity to try out these original ideas rather than needing to follow a specific way to use a different toy. As adults, we can watch and see children do this naturally with things that they find and repurpose.  We also have the opportunity to prompt more thinking and play by presenting curated materials in an engaging way, as shown in the images above.


Author: Allie Pasquier –

Photo Credit: photo’s from Remida


Remida locations:

Global Scrap Store List:

Author: Allie Pasquier

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