Dictionary of Resources

Posted 05 Mar 2011 in environment, materials

At a recent workshop I gave, I had a discussion with a participant about natural and plastic materials in the classroom. Pat, let’s call her, commented on the use of plastics in some of my images, encouraging me to rid the classroom of this material and bring in more natural materials, to be more ecologically sound. This got me thinking–is it better to use natural resources (pine cones, shells, leaves, acorns), or to use plastics (recycled CD’s, bottle tops, parts of soda bottles, odds and ends…)? It seems to me that at this time in our lives, natural materials may be the LESS green choice, since it means culling materials from mother nature that would otherwise be re-used by her. Plastics aren’t going anywhere–I am not in favor of purchasing plastic materials for a classroom, however I do believe that repurposing some of our waste (waste with potential) is ecologically sound. I also believe that it is important that we do not discriminate against a material because of personal bias. Children/adults have the right to encounter all the materials of life. I think the ideal classroom has the presence of all materials–a sort of dictionary of resources–that is a true reflection of life in the 21st century.


  1. Jen,
    I love your thought: “I also believe that it is important that we do not discriminate against a material because of personal bias.”

    I’ve definitely started thinking about materials biases I might be holding in our studio space since I’ve read about how you’ve acted on your thought in the later post about ordering paint. Thanks for sharing!

  2. barbara berger

    I think we should differentiate between commercial plastic toys and manipulatives that diminish possibilities for open ended play and creativity, and those items that can be recycled for multiple purposes and reinvention. We should also keep in mind the importance of being able to compare and contrast natural materials and man made materials.

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