Earth Day Crafts for Kids: Design Your Own Cloth Napkins
Earth Day Craft: Peace Tree Napkins
When is Earth Day 2013?
Earth Day is celebrated by more than 175 countries worldwide and falls this year on Monday, April 22nd.
Earth Day Facts: Napkins and Trees
- The average American uses 6 napkins per day which equates to 2,200 per year
- Globally, nearly 4 billion trees are cut down each year
- Rainforests make up only 6% of the earth's surface, yet are home to half of the world's animal and plant species.
Earth Day Project for Kids
This is a great kid's craft for Earth Day, Arbor Day, or any other time of the year, including right before school starts. The green concept behind the craft is to replace paper napkins with cloth napkins in the lunchbox or at home.
My fifth-grade daughter came up with this craft idea for her Annual Peace Project at school. Each student was required to work on a project to make the community or world a better place. My daughter loves the rainforest and wanted to focus on saving trees. Her plan was to design a cloth napkin and encourage others to use them instead of wasting paper napkins.
To promote her napkins, she shared them with her classmates and created a poster that was displayed in the school hallway. She also had her younger brother share the napkin idea at his school. She charges $1.00 per napkin and will buy a tree to plant at her school with the proceeds. For a more aggressive approach, kids can sell the napkins at a community booth event, for example, at a farmer's market. The goal is to raise awareness, in addition to having fun and planting one more tree.
Creating a StencilClick thumbnail to view full-size
When is Arbor Day 2013?
National Arbor Day always falls on the last Friday in April. This year, it will be on Friday, April 26, 2013.
Earth Day Activity 1st Step: The Stencil
We considered pre-made stencils or stamps, but my daughter decided she wanted to make the design herself. She envisioned a green tree with a peace sign on it. To make the stencil, she simply drew the tree on a piece of cardstock and cut it out. The remaining frame was the stencil.
The first attempt to make the napkins was using green fabric paint. It was easy to paint over the stencil with the paintbrush, but we did not like the ending result. The paint was dark and thick, which did not work well with a thin cotton napkin. We tried fabric spray paint next and were happy with those results. Each napkin was unique with some light, some dark, and some even had a neat speckled effect.
The added touch was to draw in the peace tree sign after the fabric spray dried. Using a glitter fabric pen, she drew a peace sign right on the circle of the green tree top. My daughter appropriately named the napkins "Peace Tree Napkins." They have been a big hit at school and she is still taking orders from her schoolmates.
Step-by-Step Picture GuideClick thumbnail to view full-size
How to Make Peace Tree Napkins
- paperboard pieces (recycled cereal boxes, etc.)
- masking tape
- white cotton lunch napkins
- tree stencil (or any other type of stencil design)
- fabric spray paint (we used Tulip emerald green)
- fabric marker (we used DecoFabric glitter blue)
- Cover your work area with newspaper
- Place paperboard under first layer of napkin
- Place stencil on napkin and tape down if necessary
- Cover remaining part of napkin with paperboard
- Spray stencil, holding can about 6 inches from napkin
- Pull stencil and paperboard pieces away and set napkin aside to dry
- After at least 4 hours of drying, use glitter fabric pen to draw peace sign or add another symbol or design
Earth Day Crafts
Earth Day Craft Additional Tips
- This project is perfect for just about any age. Younger children can skip the spray paint and draw directly on the napkin using fabric pens. Older children can use more sophisticated stencil designs.
- Pre-wash napkins for best results.
- The glitter fabric pen adds a little pizazz for presentation, but the glitter eventually fades away after several washes. The rest of the colors, though, have kept up very well in the wash.
- White napkins worked well for this project, but you may want to experiment with other bright colors.
- Kids may want to design a napkin with their name or monogram in fun colors.