Teach children about recycling and protecting the Earth while inspiring their creativity. Making recycled crafts is a way to spend a rainy afternoon or a way to celebrate Earth Day or make decorations for another holiday. Since you’ll be re-purposing materials, it’s also a way to keep children entertained without breaking the bank.
Using recycled or upcycled materials for crafts projects helps to teach children the value of reusing or conserving resources. Turning one useful object into another useful–if entirely different–object also helps them to learn to think creatively and not to be afraid to make mistakes. Spending time crafting with your children will also help you bond as a family and will help them learn to follow through and persevere through projects.
Ideas for Materials
To make recycled crafts, you will most likely need basic crafting supplies as well as things that you may ordinarily toss in the garbage or recycling bin. Stock up on non-toxic paints and glue, such as white glue or glue sticks. You may also want to have markers, colored pencils and crayons on hand as well child-safe scissors and fun crafting supplies, such as pipe cleaners, glitter and googly eyes. Set up a separate bin near your garbage can for potential craft materials, such as tin cans, egg cartons and empty plastic bottles.
Before starting on a project, try to determine how long it will take or how long you would like it to take. If you know you will have a great deal of time to work on a craft project with a child–such as being be snowed in for a few days–try to select a project that you can work on over several afternoons. If you are working with young children, you may want to stick with projects that you can complete in less than an hour.
Recycled crafts can range from purely decorative objects, such as mobiles made from wire hangers and cut-up egg cartons, to practical items, such as self-watering planters made from plastic bottles cut in half and decorated with paint or ribbon. Spend some time brainstorming ideas for things you can make with your child, based on materials you have already collected or materials you will easily collect in the future. Don’t try to make crafts out of materials you never use. For instance, if you don’t drink coffee, don’t plan making something using a coffee can; that defeats the purpose of the craft project.
Unless the children are older, always supervise them when they craft. Make sure that small children don’t attempt to eat glue or chew on markers. You may want to do any cutting necessary for a project yourself, if you are working with children under age 5. If you are doing a sewing project or other craft that involves needles, consider giving children plastic needles with dull tips to reduce the chance of them poking and hurting themselves.
- recycled paper image by Ivan ivashin from Fotolia.com