Aotūroa | Adventure and junk play

Children learn through play. Learn more about how they can build their own creations using ‘junk’ materials.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • All early learning services 
  • Educators, teachers and kaiako
  • Service managers
  • Parents, caregivers and whānau

What is adventure and junk play?

Junk play gives children many opportunities to experiment with the physical properties of objects.

Junk resources are cheap and easy to find from the recycled, natural and man-made materials in the world around us.

Adventure and junk play can help children to:

  • work together with others, share and take turns
  • develop their ideas in their own ways
  • learn to solve problems, plan and remember
  • learn about fitting into spaces and mathematical ideas such as under, over, through and between
  • be creative and use objects and material in different ways.

This play idea has been developed for playgroups. Feel free to use it at other types of ECE service, but make sure you are still following the regulations and licensing criteria that apply to your service type.

Parents may also find this information useful.

Adventure and junk play in Te Whāriki

Adventure and junk play support learning across all strands of Te Whāriki. In particular, children’s developing capability to be expressive is supported in the 'communication' strand, where they discover and develop different ways to be creative and expressive.

It is also supported in the:

  • 'exploration' strand, where they develop strategies for active learning and experiment with the objects in their worlds
  • 'contribution' strand, where children are encouraged to learn with and alongside others.

How adults can support children

Adults can support children by:

  • talking with and listening to them
  • allowing them to explore at their own pace and ability
  • supporting them to put their own ideas into practice, without taking over
  • helping them sort out problems by encouraging respect and positive behaviour
  • creating a safe environment
  • providing a wide range of equipment and resources.

Providing for adventure and junk play

Ideas for equipment:

  • boxes, cartons, cardboard
  • ladders, planks, tubes
  • old blankets, hessian, ropes, carpet
  • dress-up clothes
  • natural materials such as logs, flax, driftwood, stumps, rocks.

It’s a good idea to give children space when they are taking part in adventure and junk play as this will allow them to be as creative as they want.

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