All around the world, children love toys. In Europe and America, toys are everywhere and quite accessible. During holidays, and especially Christmas, is the time when every parent goes and buys toys as a gift for their children. Gifts, in our countries, represent a massive quantity of waste, especially with the packaging and even more with gift-wrap.
In Madagascar, and especially in rural areas of the Southwest, where Reef Doctor is based, kids are not as lucky and don’t get many gifts or toys. So they came up with an idea: make their own toys. What type of raw material would you use to make your own toys? In rural villages, where people don’t own a lot of things, there is not as much material… but children here are resourceful and will use anything they can find in the village or on the beach, things that no one needs to use anymore… I’ll give you three guesses. Rubbish, of course!
In this blog, which is a tiny bit unusual, we’re inviting you to join the children of Ifaty during a session of making toys with rubbish.
How to make a kite
– plastic (out of a plastic bag or any more or less solid plastic)
– branches (straight and light, like bamboo)
– strings (ideally nylon or something similarly resistant)
Here in Ifaty, you can find all these things easily without the need to buy anything. You can pick up branches that have fallen on the ground and get strings out of thick fishing ropes by taking single strings apart. Torn pieces of rope can easily be found on the beach. The plastic can be a bit trickier sometimes, but as we already mentioned, kids here are resourceful and they will always find a solution. Let’s take a plastic bag as example and show you how do make your own kite with it.
You start by cutting the edges of the plastic bag, to have a flat surface. You should now have some kind of rectangle. You fold the plastic in two, lengthwise, and cut a triangle, so when you unfold it you have a diamond. This will make the wing of your kite.
For the next step you need the branches. As mentioned, they must be straight and light, so bamboo is the ideal wood for that. Depending on the size of the branch, you might cut it in two or four parts. Once you have your pieces of branch, you need to put them in a cross on the diamond of plastic, on the longest parts. After you place them, you need to make tiny holes on each side of the branch, near both edges. In the holes, you pass a piece of string and tie a tight knot. You do the same on the other three edges. You will then have your plastic diamond tightly attached to your wooden cross.
Now you go back to what is left of your plastic bag and cut a long piece, which can be a bit twisted and uneven, as it’s going to be the tail of your kite. Once you’re satisfied with how the tail looks, you can attach it on the wood on the bottom part of the diamond. You are now almost done! The only thing left to do is the string to be able to fly it. You need quite a long piece of string, and if you cannot find a long one, you can tie several pieces of string together to make a long one. Once your string is ready, simply attach one end to the bottom wood stick. Your kite is now ready to fly!
How to make a toy car
– sardine can
– bottle caps
– small straight sticks
You probably already guessed what this toy could be – the sardine can is going to be your car and the bottle caps the wheels. But how to put all that together? We’re going to explain it all to you and you’ll see, it’s pretty simple!
First, take a pair of scissors or anything that can pierce a can. Prepare the wooden sticks on top of the sardine can, on the bottom and on the top, so you can make straight holes in which you’ll be able to introduce the wooden sticks. Once the holes are pierced and the wooden sticks go through the sardine can, you can pierce the bottle caps and fix them on the wooden sticks. If your wooden sticks are too long, cut them a bit before inserting the bottle caps. Your car is now ready! The only thing left to do is to pierce a little hole at the top of the can and to put in a string, tie a knot and you can now start playing with your new recycled toy!
Buying toys that are gift-wrapped makes our children happy and puts a big smile on their faces. It is great to please them but while thinking of how to make them happy, you could also give a thought to the impact of all the wrapping paper and packaging discarded and maybe even the toy itself. Almost every child in the world loves to fly kites, and how proud would they be to create and make a kite with their own hands? Not only a great way to reduce pollution, but also a great family activity! So, why not give it a try?
Blog and photos by RD Comms Officer Karin Moehler