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Recycled Materials Crafts

Submitted by the staff of Childreach

As our lives focus more and more on our battered environment, we face the challenges and opportunity to teach our children the four Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover. One of the ways to achieve this is in using recyclable materials for children’s craft projects. This offers a great many advantages, not the least of which is saving money, as well as demonstrating to the children the conservation of resources and the challenge of reusing everyday materials.

Challenge your own creative thinking, as well as your children’s, in discovering unique crafts from the following “junk!”


• Frames – Use the tops of kleenex boxes to frame small pieces of art. Collect the tops from a variety of gift boxes. Cut out the centre so that the opening is slightly smaller than the art to be displayed.

• Puzzles – Cut the front of a large cereal box into pieces (the number and complexity of the pieces will depend on the age and ability of your children). Store the pieces in a large envelope with an identical cereal box front pasted on it.

Cards and catalogues

• Pack your suitcase – Use a 9” x 12” piece of construction paper (better still, recycle computer paper) for each suitcase. Have the children paste on pictures of clothing, shoes, etc. Fold in half and add paper handles.

• Salt cards – Choose holiday cards with winter scenes. Paint the snowy area with glue and then sprinkle it with salt. When the glue is dry, the salt will look sparkly.

• Junk mail – Save old envelopes, junk mail and magazine stamps for dramatic play about mail carriers and the post office.

Egg cartons

• Paint sets – Put leftover tempera paint into the cups of styrofoam egg cartons. Let the paint dry thoroughly, then the children can use the cartons like watercolour paint sets.

Plastic lids

• Mobiles – Use a large plastic lid as the base for a mobile. Punch a hole near the top to hang the mobile, and punch three or four holes around the lower edge from which to hang mobile items.

Milk cartons

• Traffic lights – For each traffic light, cover a quart milk carton completely with black paper. Cut out red, yellow and green circles and have children paste them in the appropriate places. Add string to the top so that the children can hang them outside and play ‘traffic games’ with their tricycles.

Styrofoam chips

• Pussy willows – The children draw branches with cotton swabs dipped in black paint, then they paste on pieces of chips to represent pussy willow blossoms.

Supermarket fliers

• Fishing game – Make a fishing pole from a dowel or a long paper towel tube. Tie a magnet to one end of a string, and tape the other end of the string to the pole. Paste food pictures on heavy paper pieces and put a paper clip on each piece. The children can fish for food pictures. You can also ask them to fish for a particular colour of food or for a food in a particular food group.


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