For many families, the frigid winter air brings play-time indoors – which can mean a house full of stir-crazy kids. If you’re stuck for an indoor activity this weekend, why not have a little eco fun by crafting with the kids using recycled materials? Skip the trip to the crafts store, these five projects are made from items you probably already have in the house.
1. Cardboard-box oven
Remember all the fun you used to have with that Easy-Bake Oven? Well now your kids can make their own! This crazy-creative craft from Martha Stewart turns a cardboard box – along with loads of soon-to-be-trashed materials like bottle caps, condiment-cup lids and old CDs – into an adorable mini-oven that’s perfect for playing house.
Along with your trash, you’ll need a hot glue gun, nontoxic paint and double-sided tape to complete this project. Add a battery-powered light to the inside of the oven if desired.
2. Valentine’s Day garland
Spread the love in your home by turning scrap paper or junk mail into a festive Valentine’s Day garland like A Pumpkin and a Princess blogger Crystal. The crafty blogger used paper doilies and baker’s twine, along with old pieces of scrapbooking paper, to create a fun heart-shaped garland that’s sure to get the whole family in the spirit early.
But don’t restrict yourself to standard pink and red garlands. Use the steps in Crystal’s tutorial to make “unconventional” hearts from junk mail, food boxes and magazine pages.
3. Rustic tic-tac-toe board
Get the kids out of the house for a few minutes, and go on an outdoor scavenger hunt to find materials for this recycled craft. You’ll need a large wood slice, twigs, four small pebbles and eight rocks to create a rustic tic-tac-toe board that’s any nature-lover’s dream.
Once you’ve gathered your materials, this craft from Better Homes and Gardens is super-easy to complete. As outlined in the magazine’s simple tutorial, your kids simply attach the twigs and pebbles onto the large wood slab in standard tic-tac-toe formation using nontoxic glue. Then, it’s ready for play!
4. Plastic bottle octopus
Crafters have dreamed up some pretty crazy ways to use plastic bottles. But did you know you could use one to create a recycled toy? This adorable octopus craft from stay-at-home mom and Crafts By Amanda blogger Amanda Formaro couldn’t be simpler to make and is great for younger kids.
As outlined in Formaro’s tutorial, simply cut the bottle to form your “tentacles” and decorate with nontoxic paint and felt. Formaro’s crafty octopus rocks a pink bow, but feel free to be creative to help this project appeal to the whole family. If your son or daughter loves sports, why not give your recycled octopus a basketball or baseball bat to hold? If your child is a bookworm, create some fun glasses or a graduation hat.
5. Food box camera
This toy camera project from Craftzine.com contributor and scrumdilly-do blogger Jessica Wilson is perfect for kids with an artistic side. As outlined in her detailed tutorial, Wilson used an old Animal Crackers box, a paper towel tube and a wooden spool to form the base of her camera.
Once you’ve made your camera shape, decorate with ribbons, buttons and nontoxic paint for a surprisingly realistic camera that will provide hours of play-time fun (and maybe even keep the kids away from your gadgets!).