Teaching Kids About Recycling | Top 7 Recycling Ideas For Kids

  • 1st April 2020
  • News

Searching for creative projects to keep your kids entertained? Look no further than your recycling bin. From glass, plastic and cardboard to toilet paper rolls and tin cans, you’ll be surprised by what you can make with just these simple DIY materials at home – while doing the environment a favour and bestowing a discarded material with a second life. These projects are perfect for teaching kids about recycling. Check out our list of top 7 craft ideas for kids using recycled materials. 

10 Creative Recycling Ideas For Kids

Recycling Idea For Kids #1: Water Bottle Fish

Instead of throwing empty water bottles into the bin, why not collect and transform them into something new and fun: a school of brightly coloured fish?

What you need

  • Water bottle
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Marker pens in bright colours
  • A table covering to protect your table
  • A paper plate
  • Glue
  • Large googly eye

What to do

  1. Take the lid off an empty water bottle and squash the bottle flat from the middle of the bottle to the bottom. Leave the front part intact. 
  2. Cut off the bottom of the bottle, 2 to 3 centimetres from the bottom. 
  3. Cut triangular notches in the side of the bottle to make the fish’s back fin distinct from the rest of the fish body. 
  4. Tape the triangle cut outs with clear tape so there are no longer exposed holes. This will create a more finished look and add a layer of protection from the sharp edges.
  5. Search for pictures of tropical fishes and paint the design onto your fish. If you are layering colours, you will want to let paints dry in between. 
  6. Once dry, add a large Googly eye with a glue dot on both sides of your fish. 

Recycling Idea For Kids #2: Tin Can Creatures

Recycle tin cans and give them a new life as bright and colourful ladybugs and bumblebees to decorate your garden. 

What you need

  • Cleaned tin cans
  • Paint
  • Foam paint brush
  • Nail
  • Coloured florist wire
  • Rubber mallet
  • Googly eyes
  • Hot glue gun

What to do

  1. Paint the tin cans with paint in the colours of ladybugs (red and black) and bumblebees (yellow and black). 
  2. Use a nail to poke two holes near the bottom of the can: one for the wings and another directly opposite for the post. 
  3. Create a spiral shape with the wire for the wings. 
  4. Add Googly eyes. 

Recycling Idea For Kids #3: Toilet Roll Bird Feeder

A creative way to make use of toilet rolls, this delicious peanut butter and bird seed feeder will have the birds flocking to feast. 

What you need

  • Peanut butter
  • Paddle pop sticks
  • Bird seed
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Twine

What to do

  1. Use a paddle pop stick to cover the outside of a toilet paper roll with peanut butter. 
  2. Roll the peanut butter-covered toilet roll in bird seed until it’s completely covered. 
  3. Thread a piece of twine through the toilet paper roll and create a knot. 
  4. Hang in a tree outside your home.
  5. Sit back and watch the birds enjoy. 

Recycling Idea For Kids #4: Recycled CD Fish

Kids will love turning your old CDs into fun birds and animals. 

What you need

  • Recycled CDs (one per fish craft)
  • Glue
  • Glitter or tissue paper
  • Foam paint brush
  • Coloured cardboard
  • Kid-friendly craft scissors

What to do

  1. Gather CDs to recycle. 
  2. Paint a thick layer of glue over the CD. 
  3. Cover in tissue paper or glitter. 
  4. Shake off excess glitter and retouch. 
  5. Set the CD aside to let it dry completely. 
  6. Cut out fish embellishments, such as fins and eyes, from coloured cardboard. 
  7. Glue them to the CD. 

Recycling Idea For Kids #5: Homemade Wind Chime

Recycle, paint and decorate tin cans to create wind chimes for your verandah. 

What you need

  • Round 6” embroidery hoop
  • Fishing line
  • Craft pom poms
  • Wool or tapestry needle
  • Six cleaned tin cans
  • Duct tape
  • Hammer
  • Nail

What to do

  1. Wrap duct tape around the tin cans.
  2. Hammer a nail into the top of the first tin can.
  3. Thread fishing line through the hole and tie a large knot at the end of the fishing line.
  4. Use your needle to thread the pom pom onto the fishing line. Repeat for all six cans.
  5. Tie all of the tin cans onto the embroidery hoop. 
  6. Tie some fishing line onto the hoop to attach it to a tree.
  7. Hang different items, like metal washers or nuts, inside the cans to experiment with a variety of sounds.

Recycling Idea For Kids #6: Paper Mache Plant Pots

Create a rainbow of brightly coloured plant pots with just some old bottles or food cotnainers, paper scraps and glue. 

What you need

  • A plastic container
  • Magazines
  • Craft glue
  • Water
  • Plastic tray
  • Plastic food wrap
  • Masking tape

What to do

  1. Cut brightly coloured pages of magazines into small squares, rectangles, strips, triangles and circles, approximately 2cm in size. 
  2. Sort the pages into colours or mix them together to create a multicoloured pot. 
  3. Create the paper mache pot by wrapping plastic food wrap around the base of a plastic container. Use masking tape to secure the plastic to the top of the container. This sheet of plastic will stop the paper mache from sticking to the pot.
  4. Begin to create paper mache. Prepare your glue by diluting it with a little water until it is slightly runny. 
  5. Place the paper mache over the pot, being careful not to paper mache over the tape since this can make it more difficult to remove the completed pot once it’s dried. 

Recycling Idea For Kids #7: Toilet Paper Roll Town

Spark your kids’ imagination by constructing towering skyscrapers and an urban cityscape out of empty paper towel rolls – the perfect place to roll matchbox cars through or hide action figures in. 

What you need

  • Empty paper towel rolls
  • Construction paper
  • Glue
  • Tape

What to do

  1. Paint paper towel rolls in a variety of colours. 
  2. Cut a rectangle out of construction paper and fold in half to create a roof. Draw a pattern on this roof — try zigzags or mini triangles.
  3. Draw a door on construction paper, cut out and glue to the roll. 
  4. Cut the roll so that the door opens. 
  5. Use patterned paper for the windows.
  6. Place tape on the inside of the roll (sticky side out) and attach the roof.

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