Inside Out Creation – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Inside Out Creation

Transform old electronics into new creations! Take apart old and unusable electronics and use the pieces to make an original creation, from the inside out. Use recyclable materials and arts and crafts supplies to make the new creation truly unique. This activity helps children practice pretend play and build divergent thinking skills.

Materials Required

  • Tools (hammer, pliers, screwdriver)
  • Scissors
  • Safety goggles
  • Metal wire or cardboard
  • Colorful bendy wire or pipe cleaners
  • Colored masking tape
  • Unusable electronics (printers, keyboards, phones, etc.)
  • Arts and crafts supplies (markers, paint, etc.)
  • Recyclable materials (paper towel tubes, cardboard boxes, water bottles, etc.)


  1. Find an old, unusable electronic device that is no longer needed. Make sure it is safe to take apart.
  2. Before taking apart the device, imagine what parts will be found inside. Consider the function of the device when brainstorming the pieces that are likely to be found inside. What happens on the inside of a pencil sharpener when the crank is turned? What makes a toaster get hot?
  3. Wear safety goggles and use tools to carefully take apart the device.
  4. Lay all of the pieces out on a flat surface, and brainstorm a list of creations that could be made using the pieces. Perhaps the screws from the pencil sharpener could be a part of a wind chime, or the pieces of the toaster could be used to create a new room in a dollhouse.
  5. Select one of the creation ideas on the list and bring it to life. Use wire, masking tape, or other tools to construct the creation from the inside out.
  6. Use the arts and crafts supplies to add the finishing touches on the new creation.

Additional Tips

Try these activity variations:

  • Use the device pieces to create a futuristic version of the electronic device. What would a toaster look like in the year 2072?
  • Create an original game with the device pieces. For example, screws can be used as game pieces, or other parts could be pieced together to create a unique game board.
  • Take apart two electronic devices and try to combine the pieces. What do you get when you cross a toaster with an old coffee maker?
  • Use the device pieces to construct an imaginary character. Create several characters and use them to put on an original play.

Links to Creativity

This activity is great for creativity because children discover and create while turning trash into treasure. In part due to an openness to experience, children can think of something as reusable or redefinable, an uncommon perspective on the goods we buy. Pretend play, or the symbolic behavior of thinking of thing is playfully treated as if it were something else, is beneficial for children, teenagers, and adults. Playing with the objects, its parts, and coming up with different uses for them helps build divergent thinking skills.

Supporting research includes:

Fein, G. (1987). Pretend play: Creativity and consciousness. In P. Gorlitz & J. Wohlwill (Eds.), Curiosity, imagination, and play (pp. 281-304). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Fiorelli, J. A., & Russ, S. W. (2010). Developmental approaches to creativity. In J. C. Kaufman, & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity (pp. 233-249). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Guilford, J. P. (1950). Creativity. American Psychologist, 5, 444-454.

Russ, S. W., Robins, A. L., & Christiano, B. A. (1999). Pretend play: Longitudinal prediction of creativity and affect in fantasy in children. Creativity Research Journal12(2), 129-139.


This activity was contributed by the Center for Childhood Creativity at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. For more information and resources see

©2015 Bay Area Discovery Museum.

Inside Out Creation

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