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Earth Day Crafts for Kids

Earth Day 2016 - American Playground Company Blog

Earth Day 2016 is coming up next week on April 22nd, so today we’re completely focused on trash! It might sound gross, but we’re not just talking about any old trash. We’ve taken a closer look at everyday household items that would normally go straight to the garbage bin after their first use, and we asked: Can trash actually be turned into treasure?

In the spirit of environmental stewardship, we’ve compiled a list of products that the average household tosses just about every day that are actually super easy to upcycle into fun arts and crafts supplies for your kids (or yourself)!

Old paper - I think we can all agree that junk mail is the bane of our existence when it’s time to check the mail. Well, we’ve finally found an actual use for those catalogs, coupons, and sale papers - to make more paper! While it might sound ironic, paper-making is actually a hands-on educational project for kids. It also presents a real-life example of how old things can be made into something new. Tinker Lab has our favorite how-to tutorial for easy paper-making.

Milk Jugs and Soda Bottles - Sensory Play is extremely important in the cognitive development of young children as they grow. While sensory stimulation can come from many sources, nature is rich with element that help children develop keen eyesight, touch, smell, and hearing. Creating a “Water Wall” outside is just as entertaining as it is developmental. The best part is that you can complete this project with your kids using completely recycled materials. Just save up those milk jugs, orange juice bottles, and two liters that usually go straight to the trash can. Our favorite part of the tutorial above is how each piece is left flexible to twist and turn.

Egg Cartons - While there are literally endless arts and crafts applications for empty egg cartons, our favorite project that’s perfect for spring is called egg carton flowers! This project, from Kitchen Counter Chronicles, does require having some other arts and crafts supplies already on hand. However, we challenge you to think of what items you can recycle to substitute for some of the materials on the list.

Bottle Caps - If you have a ton of those random little foam shapes leftover from scrapbooking laying around, you’ll love this project we found at A Little Learning for Two. Just glue a shape onto the flat side of a bottle cap, and voila! You just made a brand new stamp. If you’re fortunate enough to not be hoarding these little ghosts-of-projects-past somewhere in your house, cutting shapes from leftover cardboard works just as well!

Glass Jars - Empty glass jars from common food products in your refrigerator are great for crafting makeshift maracas for children. (We’re looking at you spaghetti sauce bottles and pickle jars.) Just fill them with small items like beans or beads, and make sure the lids are secured for small children. If you’re looking for a more involved project, we also found an inventive “Glass Jar Lantern” idea. Bonus: this project is the perfect opportunity to reuse tissue paper from birthdays or Christmas.

Cardboard - Old cardboard boxes can come in handy for an on-the-fly arts and crafts project on a rainy day. Haven’t you ever wondered why kids sometimes enjoy playing with the box more than the actual toy that came inside of it? Playing with an object like a cardboard box unlocks the imagination and creativity of a child’s mind because it engages them in something called non-literal play. Non-literal means there is no direction or pretense of what the box represents. It can be whatever the child imagines it to be, and that’s the beauty of it!

Bubble Wrap - It’s hard to imagine using bubble wrap for anything besides stress relief, but the Hands On As We Grow blog has come up with this brilliant arts and crafts application: bubble wrap printing! Just add paint, and let the kids go to town making patterned masterpieces.

Styrofoam - In case you didn’t know, styrofoam is a 100% non-biodegradable product. All the styrofoam that makes it into our environment will stay there. Forever! So if you absolutely cannot avoid using a styrofoam product, we’ve found some fun ways to upcycle it at home. Flat pieces can be used as a makeshift weaving loom for toddlers. Just make small indentations on the sides, and weave string through and across. Hands On As We Grow also makes a building game out of styrofoam blocks, a play hammer, and golf tees.

Not only will these ideas save you time and money, you’ll be setting an example for your family on how to live a sustainable lifestyle. Do you already have a recycling ritual in your household? We’d like to hear from you! Drop us a comment, or tag us on social media to show off your conscious crafting.

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