Technology comes with a price. At the risk of sounding like a Millenial’s mom, it truly is rare to see children playing outside. A majority of my little cousins could probably whoop my behind at Candy Crush, know the lyrics to every other Top 40 on 40 song out there, and the little ones are nearly always distracted by one of the many animated shows on YouTube. While I do appreciate the peace and quiet one can garner from the brilliance that is a smart phone, when it begins to shape their psyche is when the real issue crops up. Finding an activity to keep them involved while inculcating valuable morals is hard work — a feat The Upcycler’s Lab took on with their Do-It-Yourself Activity Boxes.
“We used to make products for adults, but we realised that we were unable to achieve our ultimate goal — to create a mindset and behavioural change around waste. It would be far easier with children, since they’re not only more optimistic and willing to learn, but they are also able to convince the adults around them to change,” explains Amishi Parasrampuria, an upcycling enthusiast and owner of The Upcycle Co. and Upcycler’s Lab. Their box is aimed at children between the ages of 5 and 9, as education tools to aid school learning through hands-on activities and project based learning.
Each box contains three to five activities aimed at occupying children’s time over weekends without the use of technology, teaching one concepts through projects made from waste and sustainable materials. “The rationale for this is to inculcate in a child early on that waste should be seen as a resource and not as something disposable. The boxes will teach children the basics of segregation and other healthy waste practices,” says Amishi. Deemed to be India’s first Eco Activity Box, it was developed by a team of child education experts, curriculum developers, teachers, product designers and parents.
The box wasn’t conceived as an idea until after Amishi had worked with a Non-Profit project around waste last year, with children from 50 schools. “Their unbounded optimism and enthusiasm to bring about change really got me thinking. Not only did they collectively create and donate 7000 plus eco-bricks from the project but they also convinced their teachers, parents and local authorities to participate! Especially considering the world today’s children are inheriting has a set of problems a lot of adults can’t solve.”
It wasn’t a short process putting it together — after dwelling on annual curriculums from different years and different schools, the team focused on themes they could work around. After more research, brainstorms and debates, the ideas became concrete activities for the box. “My favourite activity so far is the Garbage Grab board game which teaches children how to segregate waste into 3 categories through a fun and engaging board game. It can be played several times and is extremely fun even for adults,” remarks Amishi.
Targeted at children between the age of five to nine years, Amishi states that parents have purchased it for kids as young as three, too. They’ve even got their next box in the works already, which covers habitats and ecosystems, with a board game that teaches children about endangered animals and the challenges faced by them.
The boxes are available for purchase on their website, wherein the large version contains five activities for INR 899, while the mini version contains two activities for INR 499. Yet another unique factor about their boxes is that they use no virgin plastic — everything is made from waste, recycled or sustainable materials.
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