Arvind Gupta has been a toymaker for 30 years. As a young engineer, he spent time in rural India and learned how to invent simple toys out of everyday materials to illustrate principles of science.
Mr. Gupta’s website Toys from Trash has hundreds of ideas for the creative recycling of easily available items such as used plastic water bottles, caps, match sticks and straws.
This reminds us of some very creative toys we’ve seen in Ghana. Children all over the country – in fact, all over Africa – have a great tradition of inventing toys from scraps.
The photographs, directions and very short free films on the website are easy to follow. For teachers of maths and science, we highly recommend this article as well as the talk and demonstration Mr. Gupta gives here.
We have lots of trash in Ghana and we are already very good at recycling! Whether you live in a city, a town or a village, there are materials around you waiting for you to apply your own imagination as well as the lessons of Arvind Gupta and his team.
What you can do
Form a group of friends and make things from everyday items. Remember to keep a record of your inventions, with pictures if possible.
Tell your maths and science teachers about Toys from Trash, and offer to help collect materials to make some of the models.
Click here for instructions on how to make an Ananse the spider. Remember to add two extra legs!
Read Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams, illustrated by Catherine Stock (or put it on your wish list of books for your school library). A little boy from Malawi makes his own galimoto toy car from scrap wire which he collects from all around his village.