Radical Unschooling

Emily’s New Television

No…I did not go dumpster diving again. Not exactly anyway. Today Emily and I enjoyed a delightful afternoon of re-using the box in which our new floor fan came.  It is a pleasant reminder of my own childhood when Nanny would often give me small pieces of tin foil to make into jewelry.

Like many, the heat in London is getting to us. But rather than pulling the expensive and environmentally unfriendly portable air conditioner out of the storage closet, I went down the street for a floor fan. When we got home and assembled it, the very nice box was sitting on our living room floor. Emily looked at it and immediately pronounced that it was her TV.

I have always encouraged her use of imagination, so I was rather excited at the prospect of creating a facsimile of a television from this box. I began by cutting a square out of the front of the box. Then I used the red foil wrapping paper left over from Christmas to wrap the box. I made certain to leave the top so that we can open and close it.

Emily's 'NEW' Television
Emily's 'NEW' Television

The next part was making the screens. We had some old poster boards hanging around the house. Some of them a bit tattered and others with writing on one side. We also have an ever growing collection of those children’s magazines; one luxury we cannot deny her…in the name of education. So we cut out several of the pictures out of the magazines along with some stickers and paint. So far we have created a Dora the Explorer screen and a Night Garden one. But we still have more boards and pictures so we may yet make several more. The fun never ends.

Let’s evaluate this activity against the Frugal Fam core values:

Family first. Like I said this brought back strong, fond memories of sitting at my Nanny’s (the name I called my great-grandmother) feet while she showed me how to make rings, bracelets and crowns out of pieces of tin foil (aluminium). This afternoon was an hour and a half of fun, artistic and educational family time.

Saving money. There is this saying among parents about children enjoying the box more than the expensive toy that came in it. This story well illustrates how some of the best and most educational toys can be absolutely FREE.

Environmentally friendly. Let’s see…we re-used the box, poster board, Christmas wrapping paper and her magazines. All of those items could have ended up in a landfill, but now (at least for the next couple of weeks), they will become her loving new toy. Then the whole thing will end up in the recycle bin.

Healthier. I would argue that it was a wonderfully healthy use of Emily’s imagination…and my own. And after all, studies are increasingly showing that remaining engaged mentally has impacts on our physical health and longevity.

So I challenge you, before buying the next new toy or even a used one, check in your recycle bin or garbage can to see what treasure you and your child can find.

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