Posts Tagged ‘invitation’

A Fun Way to Recycle Broken Electronics

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Recently when I pulled out an old CD player to use, I discovered it had finally bit the dust. I was actually a little happy about it. Why? Because old electronics provide a fun hands-on learning activity for kids!

I put the CD player aside; saving it for the right time when I needed the boys to keep busy with something and they had the attention to be engaged for a while. The “right time” turned out to be this afternoon while I was making dinner.

I cut the cord off the cord off the CD player and set it out next to JJ’s (age 5) tool box on the coffee table. (This approach is sometimes called “an invitation” or “strewing“). The tool set consists of real working metal tools that are made for children. The tools are slightly smaller and lighter weight than the traditional version. I found the set on clearance for $10 at Lowe’s and gave it to JJ as a Christmas present. He loves having his own tool box. He will use them for pretend play such as “fixing” his bike as well as for real projects.

One fun way he enjoys using his tools is to take things apart. Kids often have a natural curiosity about how things work and enjoy taking things apart. I grew up with a little brother who was always getting in trouble for “breaking” things…but honestly he couldn’t help himself. He had to take things apart to figure them out. He now makes a living as an engineer. 🙂

In addition to being fun and engaging, there are cognitive benefits to this activity such as development of problem-solving, reasoning, organizing, strategy-building and analyzing skills. Also working with tools provides children ample opportunity to develop fine motor skills. This is a perfect activity for my oldest son who struggles with fine motor tasks. He’s not very interested in drawing or writing, however hand him a screw driver and he will persist with determination to unscrew each and every screw! Using children’s natural interests and internal motivation is a great way to maximize their learning.

Once they have taken everything apart, the pieces can be used to rebuild something of the child’s imagination. For example one idea might be to build a robot out of the pieces. This particular take-apart-project had a ton of little screws to undo. JJ saved them all for another project he has in mind. He has some scraps of wood that he likes to use with his tools, so I have a feeling the screws from the CD player will end up in a piece of scrap wood. Which highlights another benefit of this activity; it teaches kids to be resourceful and re-use objects in a new way.

Do you have some old, broken electronics collecting dust in your basement? Why not pull them out and let your kids take them apart?! It’s fun and educational and FREE! Although be sure to follow these safety tips:

1. Supervise children using tools, especially if they are newer to using them

2. Have children use safety goggles and gloves when working with tools

3. Use an electronic device that has not been plugged in for a long time to ensure there is no remaining electric charge in it

4. Cut the cord off of it and dispose of the cord before disassembling electronic device

5. Avoid using CPUs or any electronics containing mercury.