Out of the Box - Creativity & Upcycling

Do you remember when your child drew his or her first picture? Or maybe when they coloured in the pictures? Was the sky blue, the grass green? Did mummy wear a dress and have long hair?   I noticed my son initially coloured the sky red, made the grass yellow, and I wore trousers (which is true!). Maybe this was his way of interpreting what he saw as a then 4 year old. Perhaps that was the colour of his world. But then when he started kindergarten, that all changed - the sky had to be blue, and I had to be wearing a dress, and so all his pictures came back as though someone had imposed their narratives on the drawing.  And, of course, my child's interpretation of the world had to be the same as everyone else's.

But, it doesn't have to be like that.  Those so called boundaries don't have to exist when it comes to home crafts. Let them go wild!  When it comes to upcycled crafts at home, my son would help me now and then (even with the sewing!). Here he is helping out with the panda costume. He would sometimes say, "Maybe we can do it this way?", and why not? 

Upcycling is a great way for kids to be creative

Which leads me to the garment repair workshop at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire with Sustainable Living Lab.  Our intention was to teach the community how to repair garments. We had a really good response, and most of the kids ended up with patching up holes that were enlarged into hearts.  Then one girl asked whether she could make a headband / fascinator or a necklace from her swatch - well,  we could have said, "No, this is a garment repair station, we don't make those things here", but no one said that a mended garment couldn't become something else later! So, one by one, the girls made one, and they all had fun in the process. 

Upcycled Jeans Fascinator!

A similar thing also happened during my upcycling workshop at a primary school (I'll blog about that soon!).  We were making bags from fused plastic bags, when a group of girls asked whether they could come up with their own design for the bag.  Why not? As long as they could finish in time. They came up with a design different from everyone else's.  Here it is:

I like it when kids, with their creativity, can unknowingly challenge the norms that adults are so used to. Sometimes, you have to try it out their way, and see how it goes!

Upcycling is a great opportunity for kids to get creative. I always tell the kids that as long as you have the right tools and understand the properties of the materials, you can create absolutely anything.  Here's an example I found featured in the local kids' magazine, Xobon (that's "no box" spelt backwards, because we want kids to think out of the box!).  The Magbilang sisters learnt how to make sock dolls from old socks, but once they learnt the basic skills, they got creative and designed their own dolls, and even ended up making clothes for them!  Check out the pictures, and if you want to see more, you can subscribe to the Xobon magazine.

Do your kids sometimes challenge the norms when it comes to making things?
Do you find your kids thinking "out of the box" when they get creative?

Courtesy of Xobon

Courtesy of Xobon


  1. Just wonderful to see children involved in the process. I love their creativity.

  2. Kids are the BEST at being creative! They don't have those social norms yet that discourage free thought and design. And they are not afraid to look silly. Love what they come up with, so fun!



Featured On