Handmade Toys and Instruments by the Children of Makuleke Village

The Makuleke people are resourceful; they create the environments around them from found materials.  Community members build homes to live in, simply with soil, grasses and water.  Children of the village create the toys and games that they wish to play with.  They visit local dumping sites and find discarded materials, such as old wires, shopping bags, soda bottle caps.  They transform these old materials, giving them new life.  What was considered waste by one person becomes a treasure to another.  The Makuleke people have something to share with the world: a lesson that we can live – in fact, we can be satisfied and happy – with little.

In this photo: a handmade kite, a mask made out of cardboard, a wire car, two dolls made of vegetable sacks, 6 soccer balls made from plastic bags, and musical instruments.  Some of these objects were on display at the Museum of Art this year.

Wire Glasses – Toys made by Children of Makuleke Village

Aaron, a middle school student in Harlem, wears glasses made by a friend in Makuleke Village.  These glasses are currently showcased in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC!  Children in Makuleke Village are incredibly resourceful and create their own handmade toys out of recycled materials found at local dumping sites.  STL is proud to share their skills and innovations.  Be sure to visit the Century of the Child exhibit at the MoMA in NYC to see these glasses and five other works of art, along with video footage of children making art!

Preschool Children at the Makuleke Community Library

Young children enjoy coming to the Makuleke Library to play with our educational games and toys!

On Display at the MoMA: Art Objects Made by Children from Makuleke Village

Children of the impoverished Makuleke Village, South Africa, rely on their innovation to create toys.  This wire car was made by Tshepo (“Tuki”), Rally and Mawisa, three teenagers that have been a part of Sharing to Learn since its establishment.  This car  reflects their creativity, as well as their ability to find ways to recycle discarded materials found at village dumping sites.  Sharing to Learn has lent the Museum of Modern Art this wire car, along with 5 other village art objects, for inclusion in the ambitious ‘Century of the Child’ exhibit.

Click this link to see the video of 11 year old Kuhlula making a wire car which is currently part of a video installation at the MoMA.


Come to the museum to see more videos of children making artwork out of recycled materials. Sharing to Learn loaned the MoMA 6 art objects, which will be on display until November 4.

New Toys, New Books, New Friends: Bringing together children from Long Island, NY & Makuleke Village, SA

A Kindergarten student at Sousa Elementary School, in Long Island, New York, cradles a doll from Makuleke Village, made out of recycled bags.  In January, children at Sousa learned about life and culture in the village through the toys that the children in the community make and use.  The children at Sousa also learned about Sharing to Learn’s library building initiatives for the impoverished community and wanted to share their favorite class books with children in the village.  We brought their favorite picture book selects, as well as their class-made books introducing themselves to their new friends, our little community library in March.

New Books at the Makuleke Library, thanks to Kindergarten friends at Sousa Elementary School (Long, Island, New York)

Solar Lanterns Arrive in Makuleke Village!

Adolf & Comfort, members of STL’s Mentor Program, receive solar lanterns, graciously donate by Lit! a LitWorldinitiative. Now they will have light in the night for reading and doing homework!

Beverly Hills goes to Makuleke Village!

We have recently had the pleasure of connecting the students of Mr. Weiss & Ms. Cryer’s Grade 5 classes of Beverly Vista Elementary School, in Beverly Hills, California, with the children of Makuleke Village.  In February, the students in California learned about the life and culture of children in Makuleke Village.  They also learned of the little community library that Sharing to Learn founded in 2009, and they wanted to contribute to the book collection.  Both classes decided to create their own ‘All About Me’ big books, sharing their own cultures with the children in the village, as well as class-made books on Cities Around The World.  We had the honor of presenting these books to the Makuleke Library earlier this month.  The children of Makuleke were so happy to meet new friends, to learn about life in California, and to once again be connected to children around the globe.

Makuleke Community Library, April, 2012

Storybook Adventure: Bringing Children from Portugal and South Africa One Step Closer

Sofia & Laura, Middle School Students at CAISL in Portugal, proudly hold up their book, titled, “Left Foot” – written for their new friend, Matimba, of Makuleke Village, South Africa.  Storybook Adventure is an exciting and on-going collaboration linking children from Portugal with children in rural, remote villages of South Africa.  The village children filled out questionnaires, sharing important topics of their lives, for the children in Portugal; the questionnaire became the basis for stories written by students at CAISL about and for their new friends.  This book, along with dozens more, will reach the village next week.  We can’t wait for the children to see themselves in these beautiful stories.  They will stay in a collection at Sharing to Learn’s School Library.  Stay tuned for more images to come!

An Angel with New Shoes – Makuleke Village, South Africa

The Little Bread Bag Ball that Travelled the World – From Makuleke Village, South Africa to Beverly Hills, California, USA and beyond…


Toys have the amazing ability to bring children together from far corners of the world, to learn with one another, to share with one another, to be with one another…