You’ve heard of recycling and reusing, but what about upcycling? Rather than sending your cardboard boxes and plastic water bottles to the recycling center, you can repurpose them into something new with one of these unique upcycled craft projects.
Easy Upcycled Crafts for Kids
Your kids will get creative and work on those STEM and fine motor skills, but they’ll also get a hands-on lesson on the importance of minimizing waste. As you work, take the opportunity to discuss the environment and how reusing single-use items can help protect the planet.
Repurposing old crayons to make new crayons is one of the simplest upcycled craft projects that are easy enough for small kids but also fun for the big ones. Collect old broken crayons and peel any paper off of them. You’ll need a form for the new crayons. You can use a muffin pan, but oven-safe silicone molds typically work best and come in various fun shapes like hearts, flowers, and even LEGO bricks.
Have the kids break or smash the crayons into smaller pieces (they will love this part!) and then fill the forms with the broken pieces. You can mix and match colors to create rainbow crayons or simply use one color at a time. Preheat the oven to 300 F and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the wax is melted. Allow the shapes to cool completely before removing them. If you have any trouble, sticking the mold in the freezer can help get them out.
Egg Carton Flowers
Cut up an empty egg carton into individual cups and then use paint to turn them into beautiful flowers like this gorgeous but super simple project from Meri Cherry.
Upcycled clothing projects are a great way to use clothes that no longer fit or are stained or torn. T-shirt headbands or bracelets are a fun craft project for older kids. Simply cut an old t-shirt into long strips of fabric. Tie three strips onto an elastic hair tie and then braid them together. Tie the other end to the hair tie, leaving you with one big circle. Shorter cloth strips can be used to make bracelets instead of headbands.
Water Bottle Bird Feeders
This is one of the easiest and most rewarding upcycled projects. Not only will you make new use of an empty plastic bottle, but you’ll also be inviting plenty of wildlife to your backyard. Cut a large hole in the side of an empty plastic bottle, about two inches up from the bottom. Tie yarn around the top to create a hanger. Let the kids have fun decorating the outside of the bottle with permanent markers, stickers, colorful tape, or whatever you have on hand.
Just about any small cardboard box or container can be repurposed into musical instruments. Wrap rubber bands around an empty tissue box so that they run across the opening to make a makeshift guitar. Turn an oatmeal container into a drum. Cover the ends of a paper towel roll and fill it with rice to make a rainstick. The possibilities are endless, simply provide the kids with the supplies and let them come up with some creative ideas.
Toilet Paper Roll Racer
Transform an empty toilet paper tube into a race car. All you need is a tube, paint, scissors, markers, glue, and some construction paper. Check out the PBS Kids video below for easy instructions.
Puzzle Piece Wreath
Have a puzzle that’s missing pieces? Instead of tossing it, you can make an upcycled wreath. Depending on the puzzle picture, you can either leave them as is or have the kids paint the pieces in different colors. Then using a hot glue gun, glue the pieces together to form a circle or even a heart. Add some ribbon to the top as a hanger. You can also try gluing the pieces together in a rectangle shape and turn them into a decorative picture frame.
Yogurt Cup Wind Chime
Put those empty yogurt cups to use, making music in your backyard. You need an empty yogurt cup, hole puncher, permanent markers or paint, yarn, beads, old screws, nuts, bolts, or any small metal objects. Clean the cup and punch three or four holes along the top rim. Poke a small hole into the center bottom as well. Have your kids decorate the outside of the cups with markers or paint.
Thread beads, screws, and bolts onto the yarn. Tie a knot on one end of the yarn to secure the items, and tie the other end through a hole on the cup’s rim. Repeat this until you have a beaded length of string tied from each hole. Thread one more length of yarn through the hole in the center of the cup and tie a knot to use it as a hanger.
Check out more fun ideas with our Earth Day Projects and Activities list.
How have your kids gotten creative and upcycled items you have at home? Share any fun craft ideas we missed on our Local Anchor Facebook page.