This paper focuses on the “Junkyard” (chatzar grutaot) - a unique educational environment and practice developed in kindergartens on the Israeli kibbutz in the 1940s and 1950s, and still in wide use today in kibbutz kindergartens. The Junkyard, consisting of artefacts of the adult world that are no longer in use, is an ever-changing setup in which children’s free play is encouraged, with minimal rules for use of time, space, objects, and social relations. Anchored in the writings of its two founding educators, as well as in writings of and interviews with its advocates and instructors over the years, this paper shows how the Junkyard drew on widespread ideas about early childhood development and education, at the same time as it responded to local conditions and concerns. The paper argues that a unique conjunction of factors - material and structural, educational and pedagogical, ideological and cultural - facilitated the process by which the Junkyard was inserted relatively smoothly into the kibbutz educational landscape, in lasting ways.
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