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Creating art and crafting are wonderful ways for children to express themselves and learn skills.  And, it’s even better when they learn to create art from recyclables.

Instead of throwing away used boxes, bottles or tubs, rinse them and save them for skill projects. Your child can create art from recyclables with the addition of a bit of paint, glue and some household items.

Read more on developing your child’s artistic skills. And creative games with pen and paper.


Vase: paint the inside of a glass jar, or tie string around the jar, spray paint and remove the string.
Piggy bank: cut four legs off a cardboard tube and attach them to a two-litre plastic bottle. Paint the whole thing pink, add eyes, colour the cap black for a nose and use a pipe cleaner for a tail. Then cut a slit into the top for the coins.
Snow globes: get a small glass jar with a lid. Use superglue to stick a small plastic toy or house onto the inside of the lid. Fill up the jar with water and add glitter or foil confetti. Screw the lid on and turn upside down.


Treasure box: decorate a plastic tub and use it to store treasures. You can paint it and add stickers. Or turn it into a truck by adding cardboard wheels and a cab.
Desk organisers: spruce up yoghurt tubs with some paint and glitter and use them for storing stationery on your desk, or hair accessories and jewellery.

Egg cartons

Crazy creatures: cut out individual cups, or two or three in a row. Paint and add eyes, legs, feelers, or wings.
You can make shongololos, camels, ladybugs, or monsters and aliens.
Christmas decorations: to make an angel, add a head, arms and legs to an egg carton cup. Glue on wings and a halo. Or make gold and silver bells.

Cardboard boxes and tubes

Build a town or castle: make buildings by painting boxes and colouring in windows and doors. Add signs for shops, or tubes to make castle turrets.
Swords and fairy wands: cut out a sword or wand shape from stiff cardboard and wrap in tinfoil. Add a handle to the sword, or a star to the end of the wand.


3D flowers: use coloured paper or pages from a magazine and cut out flower shapes of different sizes. Take two or three flower shapes and join them together in the middle. This can also work with paper plates or thin cardboard.
Mosaic pictures: tear up colourful magazine pages into small pieces. Draw a shape on a piece of paper, such as a butterfly or lizard, and stick the pieces of paper onto the picture. When the glue is dry, add outlines with a black marker and cut out.
Gift bags: spruce up old or plain bags by cutting out pictures from cards and wrapping paper.

Tin cans

Drum: cover a coffee tin with old wrapping paper. Put the lid back on to make a drum. You can use old wooden spoons for the drumsticks.
Rattle or shaker: decorate tins, and put uncooked beans or rice inside. Seal the tin by placing a piece of cloth or paper over the top and using an elastic band to hold it in place.


Sock puppets: make eyes and a tongue out of cardboard and stick these onto an old sock.
Hacky sacks and bean bags: fill the end of a sock with popcorn kernels or uncooked rice. Cut off the end and sew shut.
Baby sock mobile: use up spare baby socks by stuffing them and tying ribbon around them. Hang these from a plastic ring to make a fun mobile.

These are just some of the ways you can turn your trash into treasure and create art from recyclables, there are many other upcycling projects  and ways to be eco-friendly for children.

Tamlyn Vincent