5 Fun Eco-Crafts for Kids

Crafting is a great way to spend quality, creative time with the kiddos. While a lot of craft projects will call for a trip to the craft store to purchase new materials, you can dig a lot of useful craft supplies right out of your recycle bin. Crafting with reclaimed materials does more than teach your kids creativity — it teaches them to value materials, even ones that they might have thought were garbage.

>>Next: Recycled Paper Beads

1. Recycled Paper Beads

This paper bead tutorial calls for using a bamboo paper bead roller, but you don’t really need fancy supplies to do this project. A plain ol’ toothpick on its own works just fine. Notice that her strips of paper are long, skinny triangles.

My kids had trouble getting these started, so you might need to coach them on how to roll these up tightly. For younger kids, you may need to start the beads for them, and let them do the rest of the rolling and the gluing.

Once you have your paper beads all rolled up, you can string them to make necklaces or bracelets. If you’ve got other beads on hand, you might try mixing those into your necklace designs. Your kids will be so proud of these!

>>Next: Potato Stamps

2. Potato Stamps

This is a project that will definitely need some supervision. Younger kids shouldn’t handle an X-Acto knife. Instead, sit down with the kiddos and talk about what stamps they want to make. Sketch together, and let them draw the final stamp designs onto the potatoes. Then, carefully cut it out for them with the X-Acto knife.

You can use your stamp to decorate gift wrap, like in the video, or for adding a little stamped flair to any craft project they’re working on. We made stamps in my elementary school crafting class and used them the following week to embellish grocery bag greeting cards.

>>Next: Grocery Bag Greeting Cards

Brown paper bags are perfect for making greeting cards

3. Grocery Bag Cards

Try as we might, sometimes we end up at the store without a reusable grocery bag. Next time that happens, you can ask for paper and turn those bags into personalized greeting cards with your kids!

It’s easy as pie to make grocery bag greeting cards. Just cut out an 8 1/2″ X 11″ rectangle, and fold into quarters. Voila! You have a card that’s ready to decorate. If you’re stuck with smaller bags just cut out the biggest rectangle you can, and fold in half. These will work just as well.

Decorate with glitter, paint, markers, crayons — anything your heart desires! This is a great project to go along with making those potato stamps.

>>Next: Recycled Pinwheels

pinwheel, pinwheel spinning around

4. Recycled Pinwheels

All that you need to make a pinwheel is a square piece of reclaimed paper, scissors, a pen, a clean chopstick left over from Chinese takeout, a wine cork, and a push pin. You can check out the simple pinwheel tutorial that I used.

Instead of a dowel, we followed the advice from the folks at Howtoons and stuck a chopstick into a reclaimed wine cork, then used the pin to attach the pinwheel to the cork. This construction idea works better, but I prefer the Leslie Tryon method for creating the actual paper part.

We made these recycled pinwheels in an elementary school crafting class that I taught, and they were a hit! The kids were pinwheel crazy for the rest of the 8 week session. Not only are these fun to make, they’re simple. The only trick is getting the tension on the straight pin just right. If it’s too loose, the pinwheel doesn’t look pretty, and if it’s too tight, it won’t spin. They might need some grown-up help getting it to work.

>>Next: Recycled Dress-Up Masks

recycled masquerade mask

5. Recycled Dress-Up Masks

Cereal boxes don’t need to head straight to the bin. Instead, you can turn that easy to cut cardboard into fun, recycled dress-up masks! You’ll need to trace and cut this mask template on the cardboard, and you’re ready to decorate! Have fun with it — glue on fabric scraps, cover your mask in glitter, decoupage it with pictures from magazines.

You’ve got two options for making the masks wearable. When we did this in crafting class, I had the kids use duct tape (hot glue would work, too) to attach a left over, clean Chinese food chopstick to one side, masquerade style. If you don’t have a chopstick, you can punch holes on either side of the mask and secure it with ribbon, string, or elastic.

Have you done any fun, recycled craft projects with your kids? I’d love to hear what you’re making in the comments!

7 Tips for Sparking Your Creativity
8 Ways to Reuse Old T-Shirts
10 Ways to Turn Old Books Into New Treasures

Image Credits:
Grocery Bags. Creative Commons photo by stevendepolo
Pinwheel. Creative Commons photo by djfoobarmatt
Mask. Photo by Becky Striepe.

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Angela Malafouris

These are so great, I want to try them out with my niece, anything to take her mind off pink dolls for a while!

Alberta Gentleman

I wish I had found this sooner. I am looking forward to sharing this with my daughters.

Valerie G.
Val G.4 years ago

Good ideas!
Thanks Becky.

Cath Bono
Kate A.4 years ago

Some great ideas, I may try with my nieces/nephews.

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers4 years ago

Don't just give these ideas and materials to your children to use,. Sit down with them and share the experience! It is a valuable way to share your time with them.

Regina P.
Regina P.4 years ago

How fun this is

Julia Perry
Julia Perry4 years ago

Great ideas

Gita Sasi Dharan
Gita Sasi Dharan4 years ago

Thanks for the great ideas.

Joy Wong
Joy Wong4 years ago

Thanks for all the great ideas.

xxx y.