Do Our Children Really Need All Those Plastic Toys?
What has the school found to date?
Staff say the 'back to basics' experiment has stimulated creativity among the children, improved their communication - and decluttered the rooms. They are calling for the trial to be made permanent
The nursery's head Matt Caldwell said he was inspired by similar schemes in Germany which replaced plastic toys with everyday items such as bottle tops, egg boxes, corks, pine cones and pots and pans. He added that the children did not seem to be missing their toys as they sit and play in cardboard boxes.
He started the trial after talking to staff and parents at the "Ilminster Avenue Nursery School" in Bristol. The school has 230 children aged two to four - and special education needs classes for children up to seven.
In an interview, Matt Caldwell admitted that in the beginning some of the children were asking for their toys back but that the others haven't missed the plastic toys as much as the staff thought they would.
He added: "It is all about getting back to basics and proving you don't need lots of shiny, expensive, electronic, plastic things to have fun and be a child. When you strip away everything, you see what children's imagination genuinely looks like."Another way of getting back to basics would be to encourage children to go barefoot more often!
- The children have been given old pots and pans, keys, bits of wood and old electronic items to play with instead.
- The backs of old electrical items such as computers have been taken off to help children understand how they work.
- Lots of cardboard boxes in different shapes and sizes.
And the result of the nursery school trial?
Staff and parents have noticed more communication between children, more socialising, more creativity.
Stripping away everything helps adults to see what the children's imagination genuinely looks like.