Recycle Crafts:
Treasure From Trash

Some of the most memorable moments with my kids have been when we were creating something together. Whether it was a holiday card for Grandma, a thank you gift for a beloved teacher, or even a school project, we always have a lot of fun. Maybe it's because I love working with my hands, or maybe it's because the kids were allowed to get dirty, but it was always special.recycle crafts

Why not connect with your kids while keeping just a bit more trash out of landfills? Provided here are some very creative recycled crafts that you can make together. And for you teachers, many of these crafts are wonderful for classroom lessons and projects. You could even challenge your students to come up with new recycle craft ideas for creating treasure from trash.

Milk Carton Birdhouse

Grade: 3-8
Age: 7-10

What You Need:

  • Paper Board Milk carton

  • Stapler and staples

  • Masking tape

  • A soft cloth, rag or chamois

  • Brown shoe polish

  • Scissors or a knife

  • Twine

What You Do:

  1. Clean and dry the milk carton thoroughly.

  2. Staple the top of the carton shut.

  3. Cover the carton with small pieces of torn masking tape.

  4. Using your rag or cloth, rub the shoe polish over the taped carton. This gives the carton a leather or tree like feel.

  5. On one side of the carton, cut a hole (WITH ADULT ASSISTANCE) about 4" above the bottom of the carton. The hole should be approximately 1" to 1 1/2" in diameter. This is where the birds will enter and exit their house.

  6. Create at least two small air holes in the top of the carton and a few in the bottom for drainage.

  7. Poke a hole through the top of the feeder, string a piece of twine through the hole and hang your feeder on a tree.

Coffee Can Drum

Grade: K-4
Age: 4-8

What You Need:

  • An empty coffee can with a plastic lid (any size will work)

  • Construction paper

  • glue

  • scissors

  • Paint or markers

  • Paintbrushes

  • water.

  • Dowels or sticks from trees in the park

  • Yarn, leather, feathers, fabric, beads ... any bits of scrap material you might have

What You Do:

  1. To create a surface for your drum decorations either paint the coffee can or use construction paper to cover the can. Keep the plastic lid on the coffee can... this will be your drum head.

  2. If you cover the coffee can with construction paper, you can paint or draw designs and creatures on the coffee can. Have a look at pictures of different kinds of drums and the images found on them. (Try covering the can with aluminum foil for a neat effect.)

  3. After the paint is dry, you can glue all sorts of cool things to your drum.

  4. Using wooden dowels or any type of wooden sticks, drum away on your new coffee can drum.

Older students may want to try pounding the bottom of the coffee can with a rubber mallet to make a Caribbean-style steel drum.

Homemade Paper

Grade: 3-12
Age: 8+

What You Need:

  • paperboard egg cartons (not Styrofoam)

  • detergent

  • water

  • pot

  • screens

  • newspaper

  • any bits of wool, sparkles, etc. to add to paper

  • food coloring (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Tear egg cartons into pieces.

  2. Put the pieces in a pot with detergent, cook on low for 2-3 hours. (ADULT ASSISTANCE REQUIRED)

  3. Put the mixture food processor, until smooth consistency. (ADULT ASSISTANCE REQUIRED)

  4. Add water to mixture before and after cooking.

  5. You can add a touch of food coloring or other items to enhance your paper (string, confetti dots, etc.)

  6. Strain through screen until desired thickness--flip over onto newspaper, put more newspaper and towels on top.

  7. Cover with heavy books or other weighted object for 24 hours. Peel off paper and let dry for 24 more hours (you can also try making shapes and bowls, but flat paper works the best). You can also use old newspaper and other scrap paper.

Magazine Mosaics

Grade: 3-8
Age: 7-14

Using magazines or photos, you can achieve an effect similar to mosaics formed of glass, clay or stone.

What You Need:

  • Magazines or photos

  • Scissors

  • Paper (Bristol board works best)

  • Paint (optional)

  • White glue

What You Do:

  1. Cut out small pieces of magazines or photos. Separate the pieces into piles of reds, greens, blues, etc.

  2. Draw a picture or design onto the paper. You can always refer to books or other sources to see designs typically used in mosaics.

  3. Glue the pieces of magazines and photos into your design to create a mosaic.

  4. Don't be afraid to try new and different designs.

Milk Carton Candles

Grade: 4-8
Age: 8-14

What You Need:

  • square paperboard milk carton

  • cooking oil

  • 2 cooking pans, one smaller than the other or double boiler

  • old candle

  • tuna can washed thoroughly

  • double stick tape

  • paraffin

  • pressed flowers (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Cut the top off milk carton and make a smooth edge

  2. Grease the carton with oil

  3. Tape the candle to bottom of milk carton

  4. Place the tuna can in the bottom of the large pan, fill with water, put smaller pan on top of the can.

  5. Put the paraffin in small pan on medium heat to melt (ADULT ASSISTANCE REQUIRED).

  6. Place pressed flowers in the carton.

  7. Pour the paraffin into the carton

  8. After allowing the paraffin to cool completely, Peel away the carton to reveal your candle.

Puzzle Pieces Photo Frame

Grade: K-2
Age: 4-6

Use up those puzzle pieces and create a unique photo frame.

What you Need:

  • photo

  • construction paper or cardstock

  • puzzle pieces

  • glue

  • magnetic strips

What you do:

  1. Cut pieces of construction paper about an inch larger (on all four sides) than the photo you are using.

  2. Glue the photo in the center of the poster paper.

  3. Glue the puzzle pieces around the photo, overlapping as you go until the paper is covered creating a collage.

  4. Attach a magnetic strip on back for an adorable frame magnet.

Juice Can Photo Magnet

Grade: K-4
Age: 4-10

What You Need:

  • concentrated juice tins

  • photos

  • magnetic strips

What You Do:

  1. From a can of frozen juice, save the lid and toss (recycle) the cardboard. Wash the lid thoroughly.

  2. Using the lid as a template, trace a circle around a photo, and cut out

  3. Glue the photo onto the juice can lid

  4. Adhere magnetic strips on the back of the lid

Baby Food Jar Pin Cushion

Grade: K-4
Age: 4-10

What you Need:

  • Empty baby food jar

  • Small amount of poly-fiberfill or cotton balls (enough to fill the jar and a little more so it makes a mound on top)

  • 1 4-inch circle of fabric

  • Rubber band (large enough to fit around the neck of the jar)

  • 12 inches of ribbon

  • Strip of wrapping paper, 3-1/2 inches by 8-inches

  • Clear tape

What you Do:

  1. Place the wrapping paper strip inside the baby food jar, printed side facing out, and secure with tape.

  2. Fill the jar with poly-fiberfill or cotton balls.

  3. Center the fabric circle over the top of the jar and secure with the rubber band.

  4. Tie the ribbon around the jar, covering the rubber band. You may also use plain white paper instead of wrapping paper and draw your own designs on it

Egg Carton Garden

Grade: K-4
Age: 4-10

What you Need:

  • Styrofoam egg cartons

  • Scissors

  • Pipe cleaners

  • Modeling clay or Play Dough

  • Styrofoam cup

What you Do:

  1. Put some modeling clay or play dough into the bottom of that Styrofoam drinking cup you can't bring yourself to put in the trash.

  2. Cut the cup sections of the egg carton apart

  3. Cut into the egg carton sections so that they resemble tulips petals.

  4. Poke the pipe cleaner through the bottom center of your flower.

  5. Poke the other end of the pipe cleaner into the modeling clay in the drinking cup.

  6. Decorate the outside of the cup with markers, fabric, stickers, or anything else you would like.

CD Ornament

Grade: 3-8
Age: 7-14

What you Need:

  • An old CD (one of the many that constantly show up in the mail is perfect)

  • Used wrapping paper, construction paper, photos, or any decorative paper

  • Ribbon or other string

  • Scissors

  • Glue or other adhesive

  • Xacto knife

What you Do:

  1. Using the CD as a template, trace around it on the back of your decorative paper

  2. Cut out the circle

  3. Using the glue of your choice, adhere the paper circle to the CD. You can decorate both sides of the CD if you would like.

  4. When the glue has dried, use the Xacto knife to remove the paper covering the center hole of the CD (ADULT ASSISTANCE REQUIRED)>

  5. Use a piece of ribbon and thread it through the center hole

  6. Tie the ends of the ribbon together

  7. Hang on your Christmas tree as an ornament, on the way as a piece of art, or on a door knob.

  8. If you would rather not use the center hole to hang the CD, you can use a drill to make a small hole at the top of the CD and thread the ribbon through it

  9. These make great gifts during the holidays for your kids' teachers and bus drivers

CD Jewel Box (Case) Picture Frame

Grade: K-4
Age: 4-10

What you need:

  • Empty CD jewel box

  • ribbon

  • buttons, puzzle pieces, shells, any other small decorative items

  • wrapping paper or other decorative paper

  • glue

  • scissors

What to do:

  1. Glue ribbon, buttons puzzle pieces, shells, etc. to the front of the case to decorate it any way you would like

  2. Using the empty CD case as a template and trace around it on the back side of your wrapping paper

  3. Cut out the shape you traced on the paper (you may want to cut on the inside of your traced line so that the paper will fit in the jewel box easier.

  4. Cut a circle or heart, or any shape in the paper so that the photo you place behind it will have a frame

  5. Insert the paper in the inside cover of the jewel box. You can trace and cut another piece for the back cover if you would like also.

  6. Attach a wallet sized photo behind the shape that you cut from the paper.

  7. Close case and glue on a piece of ribbon as a hanger.

Potato Chip Can Bank

Grade: K-2
Age: 4-6

What you Need:

  • Empty can of potato chips thoroughly washed

  • Potato chips can lid

  • Wrapping paper, construction paper, or other decorative paper

  • Double stick tape or glue

  • Scissors with pointed edge (or use a craft knife to cut hole in lid)

What you Do:

  1. Wrap the outside of the can with wrapping paper, construction paper or other decorative paper

  2. Cut the paper to size and adhere to the Pringles can with double stick tape or glue

  3. Cut a slit in the lid to allow the money to drop in (ADULT ASSISTANCE REQUIRED)

  4. Have fun saving money!

CD Coasters

Grade: 3-8
Age: 8-14<

What you Need:

  • A few old CDs (preferably of the same color)

  • White cotton lace, rick-rack, or your favorite yarn

  • Glue (a hot glue gun works well)

What you Do:

  1. You can use any old CDs, but this looks best with plain gold or silver CDs.

  2. Don't cut the cotton lace before starting.

  3. Work in small sections and spread some glue all along the edge of the CD.

  4. Take one end of the lace and start sticking it onto the edge of the CD, making small pleats as you go all around.

  5. When you've finished, cut the lace and you have the coaster. The center of your new coaster can also be decorated.

Paper Bag Octopus

Grade: K-4
Age: 4-8

What you Need:

  • Paper Bag

  • Paint

  • Paintbrush

  • Newspaper

  • Yarn

  • Markers or Crayons

What you Do:

  1. Paint the paper bag the color you want your octopus to be and let it dry completely.

  2. Ball up several pieces of newspaper and stuff them in your bag.

  3. Fill approximately 1/4 of the bag

  4. Gather the bag around the newspaper and shape the bottom into a round shape.

  5. Wrap a piece of yarn around where you gathered the bag together and tie it the ends together. The rounded, bottom half of the bag will become the octopus head.

  6. Cut the top edges of the bag from the edge to where you tied to form the legs. Cut them so there is 8 strips.

  7. Round the edges of the strips for a more realistic octopus. Set the octopus on the table and spread out the legs.

  8. Use markers, crayons, or paint to draw on some facial features. If you like, you can glue half-circle, Styrofoam packing peanuts to the bottom side of each leg to represent the octopus' suction cups

Junk Mail Jewelry

Grade: K-12
Age: 4+

What you Need:

  • Junk mail, magazines, or catalog pages with a coated, shiny surface

  • Broken jewelry to string with paper beads (optional)

  • Ruler, pencil, and scissors

  • White glue

  • Round tooth picks

  • Strong, thin string, such as kite string

  • Needle for threading beads

What you Do:

  1. Cut the paper into small strips approximately 3/4" wide by 4 1/2" long.

  2. Roll each bead by wrapping it tightly around a toothpick.

  3. Complete the bead by gluing the last 1/2" of the strip.

  4. Remove the toothpick and repeat until all the beads are made.

  5. Beads of different sizes may be made by varying the size of the paper strips. To make the beads bigger, use longer strips of paper. Change the width of the strips to make the beads wider or more narrow.

  6. String the beads using your needle and string.

  7. Alternate handmade paper beads with beads from broken necklaces and bracelets. (optional)

  8. Tie a knot in the string to complete your jewelry or use a professional clasp from a craft store

For additional recycle crafts visit...

These ideas have been collected from several sources. Thank you to everyone that contributed. Please feel free to send me your recycle crafts and ideas to include.

Next - Community Involvement

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