myNDNA: Early years and childcare tips

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Coronavirus disclaimer - Legislation and policy guidance change regularly. It is the responsibility of the setting to review the latest COVID-19 guidance from the Government when undertaking these top tips.


Upcycling is the process of reusing discarded objects or materials in such a way as to create something of higher quality than the original.

Here are some top tips to help you look at whether upcycling is a much better option than buying something new. 

7 tips for upcycling in your setting

  1. Brainstorm ideas with staff and children about items that could be upcycled in the setting and also items that could be donated and upcycled. There is an abundance of things you could do with an empty plastic bottle, from creating bird feeders to garden sprinklers
  2. Think small as well as big. For example, adding new labels to old envelopes or packaging and reusing them – every little helps
  3. Upcycle old books by getting children to create new covers, or allowing children to cut out pictures and words, sticking these onto card to create their own new story book
  4. Put out a request to families to see if there is something specific you are looking for. For example, a parent may be throwing away an old pan set which would be just perfect for your mud kitchen 
  5. Make contact with local businesses to enquire about what items they discard and consider if these could be upcycled and used for anything. For example, electrical companies may have giant cable reels which could be used as outdoor tables, garages could donate tyres which make excellent planters, and carpet shops may have some huge cardboard tubes that you could make great use of
  6. Look for ideas and inspiration online
  7. Set some upcycling challenges. For example, if you no longer need a chair or a bookshelf, challenge staff and children to come up with ideas about what it could be used for. Once decided this will make a great project to work on. 
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