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The Plastic Problem - Whole School Project

Monday 4th July 2022

Making musical instruments using recycled materials

Expressive Arts and Design

Understanding the World

We have used different junk modelling materials to make our own musical instrument. We have thought about different containers and resources we can use and recycle that we would normally throw away. We have used a variety of pasta shells and rice to create different sounds. We have then listened to some African music linked to our class text, Fatou Fetch the Water by Neil Griffiths and joined in with the rhythm and beat of the music with our musical instruments.

Year 1

For the whole school project on 'The Plastic Problem', Year 1 have learnt about the impact single use plastic has on our oceans and sea creatures. We explored what we could do to help reduce the waste and talked about the different things we could recycle and what we could make from them. We decided to 'upcycle' a 2 litre plastic bottle to make our own hanging baskets/plant pots. We learnt how to use tools effectively to cut and combine materials and developed skills to make a strong handle for our baskets. Here are some examples of the skills we have learnt and what we have created. 

Year 2

In Year 2, we learned that plastic is a problem in our world and how long some plastics take to decompose. We decided that there are ways in which we can help God’s planet by reusing, upcycling and recycling. We brought in a plastic bottle to upcycle into a money box. We began by looking at different designs and decided what we could make ours out of. We made designs in our books and labelled them with the materials we wanted to use. Have a look at our designs.



Year 3

We made a flower pot using plaiting and coiling to create it. We used the flower pot as the centre piece for our Jubilee wheel barrow, which is currently on display in Tamworth Castle grounds as part of our Tamworth in Bloom celebration.

Year 4

As part of our whole school Plastic Problem topic, we designed, created and evaluated our useful classroom product made out of plastic bags.  Some children created friendship bands to make new friends in the class or strengthen a friendship using the braiding technique that they learnt. 

Children worked in groups, pairs or individually and had a great time. 

Year 5

Brief: To design, make and evaluate a pencil case made from a single use plastic bottle


Understanding contexts, users and purposes:

  •          Work confidently within a range of contexts, such as the home, school, leisure, culture, enterprise, industry and the wider environment.
  •          Describe the purpose of their products.
  •          Indicate the design features of their products that will appeal to intended users.
  •          Explain how particular parts of their products work.
  •          Identify the needs, wants, preferences and values of particular individuals and groups.
  •          Develop a simple design specification to guide their thinking.

Generating, developing, modelling and communicating ideas:

  •          Share and clarify ideas through discussion.
  •          Use annotated sketches
  •          Generate innovative ideas, drawing on research.
  •          Make design decisions, taking account of constraints such as time, resources and cost.



  •          Select tools and equipment suitable for the task.
  •          Explain their choice of tools and equipment in relation to the skills and techniques they will be  using.
  •          Select materials and components suitable for the task.
  •          Explain their choice of materials and components according to functional properties and aesthetic qualities.
  •          Produce appropriate lists of tools, equipment and materials that they need.
  •          Formulate step-by-step plans as a guide to making.

Practical skills and techniques:

  •          Follow procedures for safety
  •          Accurately measure, mark out, cut and shape materials and components.
  •          Use and handle equipment safely craft knifes, glue guns
  •          Demonstrate resourcefulness when tackling practical problems.


Own ideas and products:

  •          Identify the strengths and areas for development in their ideas and products.
  •          Consider the views of others, including intended users, to improve their work.
  •          Critically evaluate the quality of the design, manufacture and fitness for purpose of their   products as they design and make.
  •          Evaluate their ideas and products against their original design specification.