25 Smart Ways to Use Paper Plates for Learning, Crafts, and Fun

Paper plate ring toss? Genius!

Paper Plate Activities WeAreTeachers

Paper plates may just be the most versatile supply teachers (and parents) can get. A pack of them only costs a couple of bucks, but there are almost endless ways to use them. We’ve rounded up our favorite paper plate activities, crafts, and learning ideas to show you what we mean. Take a look!

1. Match up alphabet letters

aper Plate Activities Frugal Fun

This giant memory game is easy to create and works for letters, numbers, words, and much more. Paper plate activities like this are great for kinetic learners who love to move and stretch.

Learn more: Frugal Fun For Boys and Girls

2. Create a paper plate marble maze

These paper plate activities look like so much fun we kind of want to make one ourselves! There are lots of ways to make a marble run or maze on a paper plate, and they all look awesome.

Learn more: Buggy and Buddy

3. Turn a plate into a calendar

Paper Plate Activities

This clever interactive calendar helps you keep track of days, months, and days of the week. Kids will love adjusting it to the proper position each day.

Learn more: The Joy of Sharing

4. Lace up seasonal string art

Use a stencil and hole punch to create lacing patterns, then give kids some yarn and let them get to work. Display these as finished artwork, or unlace when you’re done for future use.

Learn more: My Silly Squirts

5. Wear a paper plate crown

Paper Plate Activities First Palette

Queen of Imagination? King of Kindness? Whatever the reason, these paper plate crowns are easy to make and oh-so-fun to wear!

Learn more: First Palette

6. Hang a colorful suncatcher

If you’re learning about the sun, or just need to brighten a window, grab a paper plate and some tissue paper to make these pretty suncatchers.

Learn more: Make and Takes

7. Practice math facts

You’ll want to make a whole stack of these paper plate activities for practicing math facts. Folding down the flap is more fun than flashcards!

Learn more: Creative Family Fun

8. Craft a cuddly Corduroy

Paper Plate Activities

Who doesn’t love Corduroy? Here he is in paper plate form, and every preschooler is going to want to make their own.

Learn more: I Heart Crafty Things

9. Spin a water wheel

Here’s a fun STEM project: Can you use paper plates, masking tape, and cups to make a working water wheel? Learn how it’s done at the link.

Learn more: There’s Just One Mommy

10. Learn fractions with paper plate activities

Paper Plate Activities

This is one of our absolute favorite paper plate activities for learning. These math manipulatives are simple to make, and so inexpensive every student can have their own set. Learn how to make paper plate fractions here.

11. Spin to learn word families

Working on CVC words? Then you’ll love this clever idea, and so will your students.

Learn more: Happy Tot Shelf

12. Fly an owl through the night sky

Paper Plate Activities

Hoot hoot! Paint-spangled plates make the perfect background for these friendly night owls, which “fly” by means of a wood craft stick. 

Learn more: I Heart Crafty Things

13. Fly a paper plate frisbee

These flying saucers really fly! Make up a batch and hold a frisbee tournament, or challenge kids to make adjustments to see which design flies the best.

Learn more: Crafts By Amanda

14. Build an island on a plate

Can’t get to the beach? Bring the beach to you with your very own island on a plate. Get the how-to at the link.

Learn more: The Pinterested Parent

15. Tell time with a plate sundial

Paper Plate Activities

This activity will make kids feel like real scientists. Set up a plate with a pencil poked through, and mark the hours from the pencil shadow. 

Learn more: There’s Just One Mommy

16. Construct a marble roller coaster

How much fun is this? Paper plates, some blocks, and a little tape are all you need to create imaginative marble roller coasters of infinite designs.

Learn more: Frugal Fun For Boys and Girls

17. Make a cute snail

The little pom pom balls make this snail one you’ll want to pet. And those googly eyes on pipe cleaner stalks add to the fun!

Learn more: Kids Craft Room

18. Map out life cycles

Paper Plate Activities

A paper plate is the perfect stage for life cycles of frogs, butterflies, plants, and more. (Pair them with our free life cycle printables for a quick low-cost activity.)

Learn more: Surviving a Teacher’s Salary

19. Play a game of ring toss

Add this to your indoor recess closet, or make it at home on a rainy afternoon. Either way, paper plate ring toss is sure to be a hit with kids and adults.

Learn more: KiwiCo Corner

20. Put goldfish in a paper plate bowl

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish … all living in a paper plate goldfish bowl. Use this adorable paper plate craft to make goldfish snack time more fun!

Learn more: Mrs. Thompson’s Treasures

21. Weave a bowl from a plate

Did you know you can make yarn bowls using a paper plate as the base? It’s so easy! Hit the link to learn how it’s done.

Learn more: Happy Hooligans

22. Float a DIY hovercraft

This STEM project is sure to amaze kids, and it’s fun and easy to put together. You just need paper plates, balloons, duct tape, and straws.

Learn more: Life Over Cs

23. Sort out feelings with a plate spinner

Here’s a smart way to work on social-emotional learning. Kids spin this plate, inspired by the movie Inside Out, to identify their feelings.

Learn more: Meaningful Mama

24. Assemble a coin top

STEM challenge: How do you make a plate spin on a coin? Which coin size works best? This is one of those paper plate activities that will keep kids occupied for hours.

Learn more: JDaniel4’s Mom

25. Skip count with paperclips

Combine paper clips with paper plates for skip counting fun. Little fingers get some fine motor skills practice too. 

Learn more: Creative Family Fun

Looking for more inexpensive learning ideas? Check out 30 Clever and Colorful Pipe Cleaner Crafts and Learning Activities.

Plus, 21 Incredibly Cool Things Kids Can Do With Straws.

25 Smart Ways to Use Paper Plates for Learning, Crafts, and Fun

Posted by Jill Staake

Jill Staake is a writer living in Tampa, Florida. She's spent most of her life teaching in traditional classrooms and beyond, from 8th grade English to butterfly encounters, and believes learning is a life-long process.

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