We’ve all heard an older generation recall that all they had to play with was a tin can or a cardboard box (which always makes me think of that hilarious Monty Python sketch Four Yorkshiremen), but it’s amazing what play opportunities abound with waste.
Organising your recycled play materials is crucial so you don’t end up going out of your wits climbing over mountains of cardboard. Label boxes clearly with their contents and sort the materials into collections for play. Include necessary extras like coloured paper, glue, sequins, fabric, paint etc. so you don’t have to spend hours rummaging when your kids are keen to craft. You can save yourself oodles of cash on those pre-packaged craft kits by using what you already have, and children are encouraged to let their imaginations run free by creating things on their own terms.
Here are five items that can be recycled for a fantastic afternoon of rainy day crafting, with ideas for what to make:
1. Egg boxes
These make fantastic seed planters – last year we had a greenhouse full of egg boxes with hopeful little seedlings poking up. The best thing is that you don’t have to disturb the seedling but can carefully tear (or cut) the cardboard egg cup out and plant it direct – the cardboard just rots away allowing the seedling to put down roots. But wow! there are so many cool things to do with egg boxes – the amazing things featured on the Cultcase blog got us feeling super inspired to get making egg box art. From artists creating huge works in egg boxes, to delicate little fairy lights, to a T-rex costume, to a toy camera, to colourful flowers, there’s lots to feast the eyes and imaginations on here. Now I’m off to soundproof my house with egg boxes…
2. Tin cans
The options are endless here – stilts, tin can telephone, drums, wind chimes… Hands On As We Grow is a fantastic website which has loads of resources and ideas to get you upcycling your old tin cans and creating fun for all the family. Jamie Reimer, a mum and founder of Hands On As We Grow, has come up with a remarkable 26 things you can do with old tin cans – get creating!
3. Toilet rolls
There are usually plenty of these lurking around our house as the cats like to borrow them and chase them around! An old loo roll or kitchen roll tube can, in its unadulterated form, provide entertainment as a loudspeaker – something that they frequently find themselves becoming round these parts. But there are also loads of other fun ideas for cardboard tubing. Simone McNamara from Mum’s Grapevine has rounded up a series of delightful ideas from other eco-conscious mums on the web. Highlights include hanging heart decorations (who knew loo rolls could be so pretty?!), a bird feeder, seedling containers, a race track, and a costume wig. In fact, there’s so much to do with loo rolls it seems the only limitation is your imagination.
4. Old greetings cards
Most of us have a few bundles of these stashed in drawers, and the glut can get a bit out of hand after Christmas. I love a card so find it hard to shift ones with really lovely images on them. No need, however, as there are plenty of ways you can use lovely cards in craft projects. I transformed one of my favourites this year into two pretty bookmarks complete with plaited cord, and not only do I get to enjoy the image all year long, but I saved several books from becoming dog-eared. This is a nice gift idea for kids to do too. At Thrifty Fun, readers have emailed their tips for making use of old greetings cards – we like the finger puppets, recipe cards as gifts, coasters, sewing cards and boxes ideas.
5. Yoghurt pots
Plastic yoghurt pots can be a bit of a bane as many recycling depots don’t take them. No one wants to just throw them into landfill but luckily they are a great resource when it comes to crafting. As a basic container they can be jazzed up with paints (either use acrylic paint or mix poster paint with PVA glue else the paint just wipes off) or coloured paper to make desk tidies, flower pots, bead trays, or mini vases. But at Artists Helping Children, they’ve come up with plenty more ideas to get your creative juices flowing like bird feeders, a sunflower pin cushion, a toadstool doorstop, even an underwater scope. When creating your recycled materials box, remember to wash and dry your yoghurt pots really thoroughly as any residue can be a bit stinky otherwise!
Here’s to many fun afternoons making wonderful inventions with your rubbish – happy creating!