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Earth Day Crafts for Kids: Design Your Own Cloth Napkins

Updated on March 29, 2013

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 Stencil

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Your child can draw an image by free hand to create his/her own unique stencilCut image out and the stencil is ready to use
Your child can draw an image by free hand to create his/her own unique stencil
Your child can draw an image by free hand to create his/her own unique stencil
Cut image out and the stencil is ready to use
Cut image out and the stencil is ready to use

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 Guide

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Step 7:  When paint is dry, use fabric pen to draw designStep 1:  Cover area with newspaper and have some cut out paperboard handyStep 2:  Place a piece of paperboard under first layer of napkinStep 3:  Place stencil on top of napkin and tape down if necessaryStep 4:  Cover any exposed part of the napkin with paperboardStep 5:  Hold fabric spray about 6 inches above napkin and sprayStep 6:  Fabric paint needs to dry for 4 hours
Step 7:  When paint is dry, use fabric pen to draw design
Step 7: When paint is dry, use fabric pen to draw design
Step 1:  Cover area with newspaper and have some cut out paperboard handy
Step 1: Cover area with newspaper and have some cut out paperboard handy
Step 2:  Place a piece of paperboard under first layer of napkin
Step 2: Place a piece of paperboard under first layer of napkin
Step 3:  Place stencil on top of napkin and tape down if necessary
Step 3: Place stencil on top of napkin and tape down if necessary
Step 4:  Cover any exposed part of the napkin with paperboard
Step 4: Cover any exposed part of the napkin with paperboard
Step 5:  Hold fabric spray about 6 inches above napkin and spray
Step 5: Hold fabric spray about 6 inches above napkin and spray
Step 6:  Fabric paint needs to dry for 4 hours
Step 6: Fabric paint needs to dry for 4 hours

How to Make Peace Tree Napkins

Supplies Needed:

  • newspaper
  • 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)

Instructions

  1. Cover your work area with newspaper
  2. Place paperboard under first layer of napkin
  3. Place stencil on napkin and tape down if necessary
  4. Cover remaining part of napkin with paperboard
  5. Spray stencil, holding can about 6 inches from napkin
  6. Pull stencil and paperboard pieces away and set napkin aside to dry
  7. After at least 4 hours of drying, use glitter fabric pen to draw peace sign or add another symbol or design

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.

Comments

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    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

      What an adorable idea. Saving trees is such a great project! The cloth napkins turned out so cool. Your daughter sounds pretty amazing. What a little go-getter with the posters and tree planting. This is the kind of thing that separates the talkers from the doers! I hope she gets to plant a thousand trees! The farmers market suggestion is brilliant Chaplinspeaks!

      HubHugs~

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, K9! I will pass your words on to my daughter. It is exciting to see young people get motivated about these things.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

      Love that your daughter was so inspired to make a difference and came up with such a great craft. Well designed and executed! I see a great entrepreneur in her!

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thank you, cardelean. Sometimes, she over-focused, but in this case, it was to her advantage!

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      What a fantastic fundraising idea! Kudos to your daughter for developing the idea. Wonderful hub!

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thank you, Teresa! It really is all coming together as she finalizes her project this week right before Earth Day and Arbor Day - good timing.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      2200 is a big number in the usage of knapkins. I remember the child care centers I worked at would go through these very quickly. I can't imagine how much places like this would use yearly. However, I do know that some of them have switched to green options lately. Love your idea and it would be fun to do this on Earth Day.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, teaches12345. Yes, there is a big fat number on paper towels as well. Probably a lot more. I have noticed more and more recycled paper products, though.

    • alissaroberts profile image

      Alissa Roberts 5 years ago from Normandy, TN

      What a wonderful project! Your daughter is awesome for coming up with such a great idea. Hope she reaches her goal and plants lots of trees! Thanks for sharing such a sweet and caring project - voted up and awesome!

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, Alissa! She presented her project today to the other classes and receive many more napkin orders, so I think she will reach her goal.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, lasertekservices! Kids will love to create their own design. My daughter is so proud of hers. It is a very beneficial project.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      This is a great hub! Just in time for Earth Day!! I hope your daughter sells lots of these! She's going to help make the planet a better place and she'll be a great role model for those who want to be more earth-conscious. :)

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, cclitgirl! Every little bit counts!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      The Earth Day napkins looked like they turned out great. What I like best about this idea is it can be used with other holidays and events. Good job, Charlie Town Girl!

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, Rebecca! You are right - any design can be used, so it would fit any occasion or time of year.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 5 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Great idea. I am always horrified to see the amount of paper that is wasted.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
      Author

      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, kidscrafts. You are right - the numbers are terrible and really make you stop and think.

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