30 Crafts and Activities Using Recycled Materials

Save the earth; make art.

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Looking for ways to teach your kids about recycling? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Let’s raid your recycling bins for supplies and then try one of these eco-savvy crafts that is sure to excite kids of all ages.

1. Make wildflower seed bombs.

Give back to Mother Earth with these easy-to-make seed bombs. Blend together used scraps of construction paper, water, and wildflower seeds in a food processor, then form into tiny muffins. Let dry and then toss in the ground. As the seed bombs receive sun and rain, the paper will eventually compost and the seeds will germinate.

2. Create nature wreaths.

Take your kids on a nature walk to gather interesting leaves, flowers, berries, etc.. To make the wreath forms,  braid together strips of old t-shirts and form into a circle.  Then attach natural items into the crevices and secure with clear fishing line or hot glue. Attach a ribbon at the top to hang your wreath.

3. Construct a bug hotel.

Simple Bug Hotel - these bug hotels make the perfect Garden Craft for young explorers and scientists this Spring and Summer. Easy to assembly (a great garden craft for toddlers too!) and great for observation and exploration. Get closer to nature this summer, with this wonderful and easy garden craft for kids!! Love Bugs. Love Bug Hotel DIYs!! #bugs #bughotel #spring #garden #crafts #steam

SOURCE: Red Ted Art

Create a cozy place for all the creepy crawlies to hang out. Cut a two-liter plastic bottle into two cylinders, then stuff it with sticks, pine cones, bark, or any other natural material. Make sure to pack the organic material tightly. Then loop a piece of twine or yarn around the two cylinders and hang your bug hotel from a tree branch or fence.

4. Create a quilt.

SOURCE: Teach Student Savvy

Textiles make up a huge portion of municipal solid waste—over 16 million tons per year. Teach your kids to repurpose old material that would otherwise end up in the landfill by putting together a cozy quilt. 

5. Create Earth moss balls.

DIY Earth Day Moss Ball

SOURCE: Mother Natured

Pay tribute to our lovely planet on Earth Day with these fuzzy moss balls. Kids who love getting their hands dirty will particularly love this craft. All you do is squish pre-soaked sphagnum moss into a tight ball, wrap it tightly with blue yarn or strips of discarded t-shirts, layer more moss and more yarn, etc. until you’ve created an Earth-shaped orb. Finish with a loop of yarn and hang in a sunny window. To keep your moss ball healthy, simply spray with water every couple of days.

6. Create a hanging garden.

Large plastic bottles become beautiful hanging planters in this green-living and green-thumb project. A great way to make a gorgeous hanging garden.

7. Upcycle trash into flower art.

recycled garden craft

Scraps of paper are the only supplies you need for this recycled-flower-garden activity and lesson . The measurement and math element is an added bonus.

8. “Grow” an egg carton tree.

recycled egg carton tree craft

SOURCE: Glued to My Crafts

Save those egg cartons! This simple project only requires a few supplies to make a recycled egg carton tree.

9. Create your own flexible seating.

SOURCE: Hanging with Mrs. Hulsey

One of our favorite Earth Day crafts has to be upcycling tires into comfy seating for your reading nook.

10. Fashion a pop-top bracelet.

Aluminum beverage pop tops become wearable jewelry, thanks to some ribbon ninja work. Put this video onto your interactive whiteboard to give your students the full 411 and then get crafting.

11. Chime the wind.

recycled lid wind chime craft

SOURCE: Hands on as We Grow

Go outside for a nature walk and gather sticks, weeds, and pickable blooms, and then bring the treasures inside to be showcased in recycled jar lids. With some wax paper and string, your students can craft this surprisingly beautiful recycled wind chime.

12. Paint paper bags.

30 Earth Day Crafts With Recycled Materials - WeAreTeachers

SOURCE: Small for Big

Brown paper bags become eco-canvases for artwork and a perfect way to adorn fridges for Earth Day. Bonus points if you can source handled bags, because the handles serve as built-in artwork hangers.

13. Create pebble art.

Take students outside to collect small rocks and pebbles. Have then arrange the rocks into a creative pattern of their choice. Get creative, and try for as many different designs as you can! Once you’re done, simply leave the rocks where you found them.

14. Use old crayons to make new ones.

30 Earth Day Crafts With Recycled Materials - WeAreTeachers

SOURCE: The Gunny Sack

This isn’t just any recycled crayon. It’s a gorgeous earth crayon! You can make these with your kids using a muffin tin. You just need to sort out the right colors.

15. Use upcycled objects to make mazes.

SOURCE: Hello, Wonderful

STEM and recycling go together wonderfully! This idea from Hello, Wonderful  is a great way to challenge kids to make mazes or something else entirely.

16. Feed the birds.

Herald spring with this easy crowd-pleaser: the large plastic bottle bird feeder. This short video will teach kids how to get started constructing their feeders.

17. Get organized with old cans.

SOURCE: Sandy Toes and Popsicles

Tin cans are easy to get your hands on, and they can go a long way in organizing supplies. Get your kids involved by having them help decorate the cans. They’ll really take ownership of this, which will hopefully help them want to keep supplies more organized.

18. Make paper-mâché pots.

SOURCE: Childhood 101

Cut off the bottoms of beverage bottles or reuse food containers and jazz them up with brightly colored paper scraps. Except for the glue, these paper mâché planters are composed solely of recycled materials.

19. Make chair fidgets out of old tees.

[embedyt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScZGN8bjsg4[/embedyt]

Give old T-shirts new life with this craft by making chair fidgets. This uses a simple braiding technique, and your kids will love helping out.

20. Collaborate on an aluminum can recycling bin.

Kids can work together to create an aluminum-can recycling center. Watch the video above to get the simple instructions and learn how your school can make recycling fun and rewarding with Recycle Rally.

21. Fashion fairy houses.

plastic bottle fairy houses

SOURCE: Crafts by Amanda

Are these the sweetest Earth Day crafts ever? Plastic bottles from home become homes for fairies, thanks to paint, scissors, glue, and real or faux greenery.

22. Create a giant upcycled art wall.

30 Earth Day Crafts With Recycled Materials - WeAreTeachers

SOURCE: Art Bar Blog

This is an amazing recycled wall masterpiece. We love the inspiration from blogger Art Bar. You could set it up on a cardboard backing and then let students add to it, paint it, and create with it as there is free time throughout the day.

23. Make your own games.

SOURCE: Reuse Grow Enjoy

Use bottle caps in a game of tic-tac-toe. They can also be turned into checkers. This would be a great makerspace activity. Give your kids several upcycled items and challenge them to create games!

24. Turn old magazines into art.

recycled magazine art project

SOURCE: Suzy’s Artsy Craftsy Sitcom

We love how this upcycled magazine cut-paper art project can be modified for primary students or used to inspire sophisticated art by high school students.

25. Build beautiful terrariums.

SOURCE: Adirondack Girl at Heart

A bottle gets a second life as a museum-worthy terrarium as well as a home for an environmental science project. Be sure to add the activated charcoal and moss for plastic bottle terrariums that flourish.

26. Set up a self-watering planter.

Your classroom studies of plant life, photosynthesis, and water conservation will get a boost with this hands-on crafting of a self-watering planter. The base? A good ol’ large plastic bottle, as shown in this video by Recycle Rally.

27. Form flowers from water bottles.

 

Upcycled water bottle flowers are an easy craft that can be sourced directly from your recycling bin, with the help of some paint.

28. Give a hoot about these newspaper owls.

30 Earth Day Crafts With Recycled Materials - WeAreTeachers

SOURCE:  I Heart Crafty Things

Old newspapers find their spirit animal when they become recycled newspaper owls. All you need are markers, watercolors, and paper scraps to make them come alive.

29. Construct a plastic bottle recycling bin.

Water bottles come together, as do your kids to make this water bottle recycling center. This project combines teamwork with respect for our environment, a double win.

30. Create genius ideas out of cardboard.

Earth Day crafts

Cardboard is one of the easiest, least expensive materials you can get your hands on. Grab a ton of it and challenge your kids to make awesome creations. You never know what they might come up with.

30 Earth Day Crafts and Activities Using Recycled Materials

Posted by Jessica McFadden

Jessica McFadden is a writer, blogger and parent living in the Washington, DC suburbs. A daughter of a teacher and a member of a family of teachers, she is happily at home interviewing teachers, principals and education specialists.

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