When people talk about making art from recycled materials or recycling art projects there are different meanings inherent in the way you use the term. In my part of the world where we do put certain objects in a recycling bin, (or in different bins depending on what kind of material it is) when talking about recycling art projects, some think that it means doing art with the type of objects that one would ordinarily throw into the recycle bin.
Another way of interpreting this term is if you are asked if you want to recycle crafts or recycle art. This can mean taking old crafts projects or old pieces of art that are ready for the recycling bin and doing something new and creative with them.
Other times when people talk about recycling projects for kids, they are not talking at all about art, but about getting the kids involved in some kind of project having to do with the recycling itself.
What I will talk about in this post when discussing making crafts using recycled materials is bottom line, using stuff that is ready for the garbage bin to make some arts and crafts with the materials. It doesn’t have to be materials that need to be recycled but, can be materials that are ready to be thrown out in any case.
For this post I am going to talk about four items or materials that you can call junk, stuff found around the house or stuff that has been used, is not need anymore and is ready to be thrown out.
We will make out of these four materials. Yarn art, CD art, Egg carton crafts or art (and I don’t mean caterpillars made out of egg cartons) and Aluminum foil art.
- Cd art: This is a true recycled arts and crafts project as cd’s do go into the recycling bin.There are a number of things you can do with these cd’s and I discuss how to make Christmas ornaments using old cd’s. They happen to be a great activity for toddlers as well who love to color on anything they can get their hands on. If you see my post on toddler art you will see that they just love to use the materials. Cd’s are a great material to use markers on and the toddlers can get out their coloring energy and think that they have hit pay dirt as Mom is letting them color on cd’s. You just have to make sure that your good cd’s are out of the way and that they can’t get to them when you are not around. Cd’s are also good to use as a template. The children can make a number of round circles overlapping each circle and then coloring in all the shapes the template creates with different color markers.
- Yarn Art- There is no need to throw out all of your tangled and small pieces of yarn that you have left over from sewing projects.
All you have to do is cut them up and either separate them or give them to the kids in bunches. The children can then make decorations with glue on a paper and then cover the glue with the pieces of yarn to make any sort of design. You can also cut them into very tiny pieces and use them almost like confetti to finish up your design.
- Egg carton crafts- The only thing I actually ever saw eggboxes or egg cartons used for was to make caterpillars. Since caterpillar falls right into the category of copycat arts and crafts, that wouldn’t work for us.
What I basically did here, was cut the egg boxes up into little pieces and have the children use them as mosaics.
Another way to use egg cartons is to use them for small amounts of paint when the kids want to do some fun painting activities. It’s a great way to hold the paint if you have nothing else. Some of the children who are too young, will just use the pieces to collage with , which is fine also.
I did learn a few things from this activity:
- Mosaics are very hard to do with children that don’t have enormous patience as it is very tedious work.
- Egg cartons aren’t that great for mosaics anyway.
- It may not be worth it to use the egg cartons to cut up if you can find other materials to use.
What you can try using egg boxes for is cutting up the individual egg holders and giving the children, pipe cleaners and pom poms and markers and other stuff you can think of and letting them make flowers out of them.
Otherwise the verdict is…egg cartons are not the greatest for art projects, but good for glue and paint and even sorting and classifying games. You can see more about sorting and classifying in my post preschool and kindergarten math.
- Aluminum foil art- Some people call it tin foil but, either way its the silver aluminum stuff that is mostly used in the kitchen.
The most well known aluminum foil is called Reynolds wrap. It is quite expensive these days though, and there are many other generic brands that you can use. If you don’t live in the United States then may not even have Reynolds wrap.
- The first thing that I use aluminum foil for is as a palette in tray painting. If you give your kids small amounts of paint, a brush, a cup of water, a sponge to wipe the brush on and a paper, they can use the aluminum foil as a palette to mix the colors so that they can have other colors for their picture. I only give them primary colors plus white to use.
- Tinkling wind chimes.- This is more of a craft activity, if you want tree decorations or outdoor decorations. Before they begin you can cut up the aluminum foil into small pieces and cut up some pieces of straws. Take a large embroidery needle with some yarn or string and have the children thread through the pieces of aluminum foil alternating between straws so that the aluminum foil will remain looser and tinkle. When done tie a knot at the end and maybe even hang some kind of hook on it to hang.You can use these as wind chimes, tree decorations, house decorations etc.
- Permanent marker works great on aluminum foil. This is a process only activity as the children are usually experimenting with this new technique. Give the children different sizes of aluminum foil. Let them color on the foil with the markers. When done let them cut out their designs from the aluminum foil and collage these pieces onto piece of tag board. I don’t think the thin markers are as vivid or as fun as the thicker permanent markers. Make sure the table or surface they are working on is protected as are the children’s s clothing. If you want to make this more into a craft, then you give them a large piece of aluminum foil to color on and then cover a pencil holder with the aluminum foil.
- Aluminum foil is also good to use as a mold for paper mache activities. You just crush up the foil into the shape you want and paper mache over it. This wouldn’t be good if you were making paper mache masks but, would work with something solid that you wanted to paper mache around.
So there you have some of my attempts to use some materials found around the house that children can just do some art with. If you would like to see some really cool art using some trash done by older children then check out this recycled art show.