Making Green Crafts with Recycled Craft Materials

By Sher Warkentin in Thinking Sustainably

Craft projects are an exciting yet simple way to teach young kids about sustainability through recycling.

The supplies you use to create green crafts, like paper and crayons, are a great example of finding ways to make limited resources last. Breathing new purpose into used craft supplies that would otherwise end up in the trash helps your kids think more creatively about the importance of recycling.

As you clean up after a craft activity, use the opportunity to talk about sustainability. Before those crumbled bits of cut-up construction paper and broken crayons get thrown in the trash, ask your child if she has any ideas for ways you can still use them. Explain to your child that used craft supplies can be saved to create more art instead of adding to landfills. It’s just a matter of getting creative. Here are a few easy green crafts to get you started:

Crayon Bits

If your little one likes to throw all her muscle into coloring (like mine does), you’ve no doubt ended up with more than a few broken and worn-down-to-a-nub crayons in your collection. You can use those small crayon pieces to make some awesome rainbow crayons.

Start by removing any wrappers that are left on the crayons. Place the broken pieces in muffin tins, about halfway full. You can combine similar colors in each or mix colors together to make a spectrum. Bake the crayon pieces on 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crayons are completely melted. Once they’re fully cooled, remove your new crayons from the tin and start coloring.

Rainbow crayons made from reused crayon pieces.

Paper Scraps

When my daughter was first learning to wield a pair of safety scissors, one of her favorite activities was cutting sheets of construction paper into tiny pieces. Rather than tossing those colorful scraps away, I saved them in a large plastic bag to use for future projects.

Whenever you’re working with scissors or cutting paper of any kind, keep a storage bag handy for cleanup time. Explain to your child that the pieces can be saved to create more art instead of adding to landfills. All you need is some glue, and you can use the scraps you’ve collected to make neat collages. Make it an open-ended project, and let your kids take the lead to come up with the images they want to create.

Coloring Book Cutouts

Kids love passing the time or practicing fine motor skills with coloring books. In my house, however, we’re often left with half-colored books that are quickly forgotten. You can breathe new life into old coloring books by using the pages to practice cutting and pasting.

Most coloring page images are designed with thick lines, which makes them perfect for cutting along. This is ideal for kindergartners and young grade schoolers who are learning to cut neatly on curves. Have your child cut out images from an old coloring book, and then glue them to a larger sheet of paper to create new scenes or patterns for them to color.

Cut out images in used colorig books to use in new projects.

Resticking Stickers

Stickers help you remix and decorate recycled crafts. When my daughter was younger, she often liked to pull off stickers and try to restick them. She quickly learned the difficult lesson that, despite the name, stickers don’t stay sticky forever. They don’t have to be tossed aside once they lose their stick, though. Teach your little crafters that even when a resource’s function has stopped working, you can find other uses for it by making magnets out of old stickers. Glue stickers onto a thin magnetic sheet, and then use scissors to cut them out.

Make old stickers stick permanently by turning them into magnets.

Once your kids begin to understand why sustainable resources are important, they will likely start coming up with their own ways to reuse supplies to make green crafts. Encourage their creativity to help them grow and learn about protecting our environment.

How do you keep craft time eco-friendly in your home? Tell us by tweeting to @TomsofMaine!

Image sources: Sher Warkentin | Flickr | Flickr

This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.

Why It’s Good

Sustainability can be a tricky concept to teach young kids, but with these fun green crafts, you can simplify a big idea so that it's easy to understand. Not only will your kids learn about the importance of maintaining resources, but they'll also have fun and develop their creativity at the same time.