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Reusing and Imagining to Bring Beauty into the Classroom

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The grade primary and one students in Ms MacKinnon’s class at Coxheath Elementary sure know what it means to reduce, reuse, and upcycle! They are collecting their old cereal boxes, paper towel rolls, yogurt containers, and milk cartons, to eventually build a big dollhouse out of the materials. When I visited their classroom, they were eager to tell me how the dollhouse would look, and how big it would be. Their imaginations are working hard in anticipation of this fun project. One student shared that her dad asked: “Why is your teacher collecting garbage?” to which she explained all the wonderful ways to reuse items before throwing them out.

The students also collect the little bits of wax crayons that were too small for colouring. Sorting them by colour, Ms MacKinnon then melts them down into round crayon cookies, giving them new life to colour more pictures! The crayon cookies are also an easier shape for little hands to hold.

At the beginning of the year, the students brought in their favourite old t-shirt that was too small for them and Ms MacKinnon, a crafty teacher that she is, made a few quick stitches with her sewing machine to turn them into book holders for the back of each student’s chair. Now, when they finish a lesson or activity early, they have easy access to their books for free reading time. 

All around the classroom, there was evidence of items being reused: blocks and chips were stored in small jello containers, scissors were kept in reused plastic tubs, and all sorts of other things were sorted and put away in unique containers. This is an amazing result of reusing and reducing waste.

The students were excited to stuff their draft snakes with reused bits of material and find a drafty place for them at home to help save energy by keeping nasty drafts out this winter. Keep the heat in, and keep up the wonderful imagination!

~Shandel Brown
Engagement Officer, Cape Breton


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