DIY Upcycling Projects for Kids
Upcycling projects are fun and teach kids about sustainability. Once they get the hang of it, your kids will start collecting recyclable objects and come up with their own creative ideas. Here are some simple projects you can do with your kids right away. However, for those above the legal drinking age, you can find some additional ways to upcycling here!
Water Bottle Bubble BlowersThis is a great project for small children as long as the adult does the cutting. Make a bubble solution by mixing 1/4 cup water with 1 tablespoon dish soap. Make sure the bowl is wide with a flat bottom. Then cut the bottom of the water bottle. To make bubbles, simply dip the cut end in the bubble solution and blow through the mouth of the bottle.
Paper Towel Textured RollerOne of the projects that older children will enjoy is using a paper towel tube as a textured roller for paint or clay. Have the child draw a pattern on the tube with a pencil. Then an adult can trace the pattern with a hot glue gun. When the glue is fully dry, it creates a textured pattern that can be used on clay or dipped in paint and rolled onto paper.
DIY Foam StampsThis combines recycled and craft materials, so you may have to plan ahead with this one. You will need several plastic lids, such as the ones on quart milk bottles and craft foam shapes. To make the stamps, you simply glue the foam to the lids. These work well with paint and ink pads.
Homemade PuzzlesThis activity can be scaled down for young children or scaled up for older ones. Simply cut out the front of the cereal box and then cut it into puzzle shapes. Use large shapes for young children and smaller ones for older children.
The side panels of the box can also be used for bookmarks. Your child can draw or color the blank side of the cardboard, punch a hole near the top and thread some yarn through as a tassel.
Tin CansTin cans present many opportunities for projects. Here are just a few of the many things you can do with tin cans.
● Herb Garden: wash the can carefully and decorate the outside only. Then punch a couple of holes in the bottom, cover with gravel and fill with soil. Then you just need to plant your fresh herbs.
● Desk Organizer: paint three or more cans and let dry completely. Then glue them together on one side. Fill one can with pens, another with pencils and the third with scissors and a ruler.
● Bird Feeder: open both ends of the can. Paint it on the outside only and thread a long piece of yarn through both ends. Tie the yarn to a tree branch and fill the bottom with bird seed.
Milk Carton Vehicles
For cars, you can use pint milk cartons. For a bus, you need a half gallon milk carton. First glue the spout shut. Then paint the carton any color you like. Cut out white squares of paper for windows and glue them on. Then glue four plastic caps as wheels.
Bubble Wrap ArtThis is simple enough for young children, but older children will enjoy it as well. Cut some bubble wrap into shapes, paint it and then press onto paper. The wrap will leave a textured pattern on the paper. Older children can cut their own shapes and use it on modeling clay.
Recycled CrayonsThese turn out beautifully but require a lot of adult supervision and help. First, remove the paper from broken crayons. Break them into even smaller pieces if you can. Then place them in muffin tins, keeping similar colors together, otherwise everything will come out brown. Put them in a 200-degree oven for about 20 minutes and then allow to cool completely before removing from the muffin tin.
Packing PeanutsThose styrofoam peanuts don't have to be thrown away. Use them with older children to make complex shapes and structures. Children can connect the peanuts together with toothpicks for small projects or use drinking straws for larger ones.
Egg CartonsThese can be used for multiple projects. Foam egg cartons are good for sorting activities or organizing small craft items. Cardboard egg cartons can be cut in half and painted to look like caterpillars. The individual cups can be painted and put on pipe cleaners to look like flowers.
There are many other items around the home that children can use for toys or art projects. Just be creative and think twice before putting the item in the recycling can.