5 Arts and Crafts for Kids Made with Recycled Materials

Kids and parents love arts & crafts. They’re fun, creative, and they work in any type of weather. You don’t need to buy expensive kits at the craft store to have some fun. You can use materials found all over your house – things you would ordinarily throw away! Crafts are the perfect way to use up all those extra bottles and jugs, toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, and mason jars.

At Wee Urban, we like to encourage the use of remnants and excess materials for crafting by donating them to local elementary schools for their programs. Here are 5 arts and crafts projects that use recycled materials.

All photos courtesy of Family Fun Magazine.

1. Can-Do Robots

arts and crafts with recycled materials

These friendly robots are more than just good-looking; magnets hold their features in place, making the ‘bots the metallic equivalent of a Mr. Potato Head.

Ingredients

  • Tin can
  • Electrical tape (optional)
  • Hardware and various recyclables such as bottle caps, keys, etc.
  • Hot-glue gun
  • Strong disk magnets

Instructions

  • Open a tin can with a safety can opener so there are no sharp edges.
  • Empty, wash, and dry the can.
  • For facial features, arms, propulsion devices, and communication arrays, look for items around the house and at the hardware store. We used bolts, brackets, hinges, keys, wing nuts, switches, bottle caps, washers, knobs, and more.
  • Hot-glue the items to disk magnets and position on the can accordingly.

2. Cool Creatures

arts and crafts with recycled materials

Don’t just throw away those take-out tubs from the deli or supermarket. Instead, let your kids use them as canvases for reverse painting, a style that calls for painting in layers – from the details out – on the inside of a clear container.

Ingredients

  • Clean, see-through plastic container
  • Acrylic paint and brush
  • Craft foam
  • Scissors
  • Tacky glue
  • Markers
  • Googly eyes

Instructions

  • On the inside of the container, paint the first layer of detail, such as the black spots on the ladybug, the teardrops on the turtle shell, or the swirls on the butterfly wings (we trimmed our butterfly container first to resemble wings). Let it dry for 10 to 15 minutes or until the paint no longer smudges.
  • Add as many more layers as you wish — each in a different color — by painting right over the original design. Just be sure to leave some plastic exposed if you plan to apply another coat and allow each layer to dry before moving on to the next.
  • Use the container as a guide to cut a body from craft foam. Glue on or draw details such as eyes and antennae, then glue the craft foam to the painted shell.

3. Magazine Bead Bracelet

arts and crafts with recycled materials

Recycle old catalogs and magazines into stretchy, swanky bracelets that cost next to nothing to make.

Ingredients

  • Cardboard
  • Ruler
  • Old catalogs and magazines
  • Wooden skewers
  • Glue stick
  • Mod Podge Sparkle
  • Paintbrush
  • 6 feet of clear elastic cord

Instructions

  • Cut out a cardboard triangle with a 1-inch base that is 6 inches high. Use it as a template to cut 30 to 35 triangles from colorful magazine and catalog pages.
  • To make a bead, tightly roll one triangle (base to point) around a skewer, then glue down its tip. Leave the bead on the skewer and roll the next one beside it. When the skewer is full and the beads are dry, slide them off of the stick. Brush on a thin layer of Mod Podge Sparkle and let the beads dry.
  • To assemble the bracelet, thread one bead onto the center of the cord. Add the next bead, as shown, threading one end of the elastic through each end of the bead. Pull the elastic tight.
  • Continue adding beads in this way, tightening and straightening them as you go, until the bracelet is long enough to stretch around your child’s wrist. Feed the remaining lengths of elastic back through the first bead, then knot them multiple times and trim.

4. Glossy Paper Flowers

arts and crafts with recycled materials

Far from the garden variety, these blossoms stem from magazine pages. They’re easy to make and leave lots of room for inspired creativity.

Ingredients

  • Scissors
  • Old magazines
  • Glue stick
  • Paper fastener

Instructions

  • To make a bloom, cut two to four flower shapes in various sizes and patterns, as shown. Ours measure 1 1/4 to 5 1/2 inches. Tip: For a symmetrical flower like the ones pictured, trace a circle onto a magazine page and cut it out (we used an old CD as a template). Fold the circle in half several times, as you would a paper snowflake, then cut the folded paper into the desired petal shape, making sure you don’t cut through the pointed tip.
  • Roll a single magazine page into a slim tube for a stem and secure it using a glue stick.
  • Stack the floral shapes and secure them to the top of the stem with a paper fastener. Pinch or fold the edges of the petals to add dimension.

5. A Flock of Baby Socks

arts and crafts with recycled materials

The only things sweeter than itty-bitty baby feet may be those itty-bitty baby socks — always outgrown or missing their match long before they’re worn out. Give them new life as an easy-to-make mobile that you can hang over a crib, a changing table, or even a new big-kid bed.

Ingredients

  • 5 baby socks
  • Fiberfill stuffing
  • Thread
  • Small beads and a needle
  • Tacky glue
  • 5 small felt triangles
  • Scissors
  • 3 yards of narrow ribbon
  • Embroidery needle
  • 6-inch embroidery hoop

Instructions

  • To make each bird, stuff a sock just up to the ankle with fiberfill.
  • Tie a piece of thread securely around the toe, about an inch or so from the end, to make the head. Use another piece of thread to tie off the tail as shown.
  • Sew on the bead eyes (or draw them on with a permanent marker). Then sew or glue on a felt triangle beak.
  • To hang the flock, cut the ribbon at varying lengths (we used 8, 10, and 16 inches).
  • With the embroidery needle, thread a section of ribbon through the back of each bird. Knot together the loose ends and trim them. Then loop the ribbons around the hoop so the birds hang down. To keep the ribbons from sliding, you can attach them to the hoop with a dab of tacky glue.
  • Hang the mobile with three additional loops of ribbon (be sure it hangs out of your baby’s reach).

organic baby toddler clothingWritten by Holly MacLean from Wee Urban

As a new mom, Holly was driven to start Wee Urban™ to offer the modern family a unique and fresh collection of eco-friendly baby gear and accessories that goes beyond the conventional and explores the exceptional! Tired of traditional pinks and blues and cute motifs, we offer sophisticated designs, “conscious” organic alternatives, practical functionality and superior quality. Using our custom certified organic cotton blends, low-impact dyes, and other trendsetting fabrics, we hope to inspire families to be make better choices and of course- do it all in urban style!

Beyond our organic cotton and azo-free dyes, Wee Urban uses 100% post-consumer packaging and tags for our Wee Dreams™ Sleep Bags. Our distinctive screen-printing is done with 100% eco-inks and are all phthalate free.

We also recycle our remnants and donate as much as possible to local elementary schools to help with arts and crafts programs.

Interested in writing a guest blog for Wee Urban? Send your topic idea to pr@weeurban.com.

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