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Recycled Art and Crafts for Kids

Updated on February 25, 2013

Something Old, Something New...

No matter what your have lying around the house you can always take it and turn it into something else. Even if its just happens to be ripped up shreds of paper. Children of all ages are very inventive, and can work with anything they're given to make into something fun, and exciting.

Recycling is a lesson that is very important for children to learn. With all the buildup of landfills around the world it's essential that we teach children about the benefits of recycling, and preserving the materials we use in our daily activities. How the actions we take today will make a difference in our future.

Take an empty coffee can for instance. There are so many ideas that can be created from that one simple object. If you turn the can on its side, cut a circle out of the lid, and attach a string to the can you've created a very simple bird feeder. Put two of those cans on the ground, paint animal feet on them, and attach a stick to one side of both cans, and you've created short stilts for your children to play with. Collect a bunch of other objects like bottle caps, wires, strings, and invite your children to glue them all around the coffee can, and they can create little robots, or monsters. Glue the lid shut on the coffee can, decorate the outside of it, and you've made a very simple drum.

Anything that can be recycled can be turned into something new. Something that your children can create, and explore the idea of preserving our resources in a fun, and innovative manner.


Paper and Straw Tinker Toys


  • Empty paper rolls
  • Straws
  • Hole punchers
  • Paint (optional)

Invite the children to start hole punching holes all over the paper rolls, and connect them together using the straws. They can paint or color the rolls if they wish, and even make it more fun by giving them marbles to drop through the paper rolls.


Forest Play Mat


  • Empty paper rolls
  • Glue
  • Glitter
  • Newspaper
  • Shreds of paper
  • Paint
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Large flat sheet of cardboard

Invite the children to paint, glue, cut, and shape the materials they're given into trees, mushrooms, and other forest concepts as they collaborate together in creating a fun forest mat for them to play with. Try making balls of newspaper with bits sticking off one end of the ball to tie with a string and make trees. Use paper shreds for grass and greenery. Let their imaginations go wild, and see what they can come up with.


Natural Tree Blocks


  • Hand saw
  • Safety goggles
  • Garden gloves
  • Sandpaper
  • Dust masks
  • Large branches, and cuttings

Talk to the children about safety when working with wood, and have them all put on dust masks, garden gloves, and safety goggles. Invite them to watch as you saw through the tree branch to make small cuttings for them to sand down. You might even want to let them mark the branch in various places with markers for you to cut in those spots. After all the sanding and cutting is done they can play to their hearts desire with the new natural building blocks you've all created.


Clothes Pin Race Cars


  • Clothes pins
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Buttons
  • Straws
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Invite the children to chose 4 buttons, 1 straw, 1 pipe cleaner, and a clothes pin. Cut the straw and pipe cleaner into two pieces. Place the pipe cleaner through the straw so the straw is in the middle of the pipe cleaner, and place a button on both sides. Twist the ends of the pipe cleaner through the holes of the buttons to hold them in place so it looks like a dumbbell bar. These are your wheels. You'll want to make two of these. Put some glue in the eye of the clothes pin, and center the bar of the wheels in the glue. Place some glue in the center of the other end of the clothes pin, and attach your second set of wheels. Let it dry, and play away!


Paper Roll Cars


  • Empty paper rolls
  • Straws
  • Masking tape
  • Cardboard
  • Hole puncher
  • Paint

Invite the children to cut circles out the cardboard. This might be a bit tough for the younger ones. Punch a hole in the center of each circle to make wheels, and place a straw through it. Make a ball on the end of the straw with the masking tape so it holds the wheel in place. Punch two holes on both ends of a paper roll, and push the straw with the wheel on it through the holes so the wheel sits flush against the paper roll. Place a wheel on the other end of the straw, and add some tape on the end to hold the wheel in place. Repeat with the other end of the car. Invite them to paint the cars, and after they've dried they can take them off to play!


Newspaper Framing Sticks


  • Newspaper
  • Glue
  • Tape or Play dough

Invite the children to roll sheets of newspaper really tightly so they form a long stick, and place glue on the last bit of the paper to hold the sticks in form. After they've dried the children can use either tape, or play dough to connect the sticks together to make all sorts of frames, and buildings.


Cuttings Collage


  • Paper scraps
  • Empty sheets of paper
  • Glue
  • Scissors

This activity is great for toddlers. They'll have plenty of fun as they rip, and cut the paper scraps into tiny pieces, and glue them down to a sheet of paper so they can show off their wonderful art in the end. Excellent for fine motor practice. With older children you can invite them to try to fit the cuttings, and rips together to form a picture of something like a flower, a person, an object. So many creative ideas can come from this.


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    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 

      5 years ago from India

      Good hub, it is useful and was well written.


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