Trash to Treasure Page 2

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Wondering what to do with all those odds and end of wrapping paper?  Make a collage with them.  Use craft or scrapbooking glue to adhere the pieces together and let dry completely.  You can really get creative and mix and match patterns.

MAKE A COLLAGE BOX and fill it with recycled materials!

COLLAGE BOXES are containers for storing all those odds and ends that are perfect for creating collages. As you find scraps of lace, buttons, even pieces of foil or drinking straws, place them in your collage box. Also put in lids or extremely clean Styrofoam meat trays suitable for being the base of the collage.

  • Leave it in your art center or occasionally place glue, scissors, and the collage box on a table.
  • You’ll see your children’s imaginations at work, as they combine the various contents into a one-of-kind masterpiece.
    Tip: Before you place the art supplies on the work table, spread a few layers of newspaper, a plastic table cloth, wax paper or tray on its surface. This will make messy glue spills a breeze to clean…

TEN THINGS TO COLLECT for Making Collage Art…

1. Torn up bits of old paintings and drawings you don’t want to keep.
2. Labels from boxes, cans, candy bars and bottles (soak them off then dry them).
3. Used postage stamps, especially from all over the world.
4. Shiny Mylar foil balloons that have gone flat.
5. Short pieces of string, yarn, thread, twine, ribbon and lace(short pieces…don’t keep too much).
6. Words cut out of magazine headlines and ads.
7. Maps.
8. Broken jewelry.
9. Seeds from flowers, kitchen spices, leftover garden.
10. Used tickets from shows and sports events.

AND #11. Things you can glue collected from Trips and Vacations! As the above sample photo shows, some will come out so nice –that you’ll want to frame them! (Made by Jenny Nance, Keego Harbor, Michigan)

Do you have a lot of magazines?! MAKE A MAGAZINE HOUSE!

  • Using an old catalog or magazine, cut out pictures of chairs, tables, curtains, bathroom fixtures and other furnishings.
  • Spread out a large sheet of drawing paper. Sketch an “open sided” house.
  • Have children place the pictures of the furnishings in the rooms of their choice. They can cut out more pictures to redecorate their house, cut out pictures of people, toys, pets, and anything they like!


Do you have lots of wire hangers? You’ve got the first ingredient for a mobile. Using photos, homemade pictures, or any other paper items, punch a hole in them and tie a string or piece of yarn in the hole. (Paper will be more stable if forst glued/mounted to card stock)

Tie the other end of the string on the wire hanger, spacing three across the bottom of the hanger. If you really want to get creative, hook two other wire hangers on the bottom corners of the first hanger for an even bigger, more inventive mobile.


1. Take the paper off old crayons
2.  Break them into pieces.
3.  Spray muffin/cupcake tins with nonstick spray or lightly coat with oil—-OR—Line the cups of a miniature muffin tin with aluminum foil cupcake liners of regular liners 3 each deep.
4.  Put crayon pieces into muffin tins and melt in an oven at 250 degrees until just melted …you can mix the crayons in the tins but you may want to have separate colors as well. Let tins cool.
5. Turn over and rap back of tins hard.
You can use a toothpick to make a swirl effect in the wax before it cools. Just be careful, the wax is very HOT!


This is another way to recycle old crayons! Peel the paper from the crayons. Put bit of crayons in individual disposable cups or empty egg carton sections. Place this outisde on a very hot and sunny day where the crayons will melt. After melting, let the crayons cool overnight and ‘pop’ them out the next day. You’ll have mew ‘cool-shaped’ crayons!

Small paper plates
Play dough
Pipe cleaners
Pony beads
Cereal with a hole in center

First of all make play dough instead of buying it! (Click here for more than 40 play dough recipes!) When your play dough has begun to outgrow its usefulness—remember this idea!

  • Give each child with a small paper plate containing a ball of play dough about the size of a golf ball. Have the children flatten the ball out just a bit.
  • Provide the children with a variety of colored feathers, pipe cleaners, pony beads, cereal, etc.
    Some things they can do:
    Wrap pipe cleaners around pencils or their fingers to make spirals; thread the beads onto the pipe cleaners and stick the feathers and pipe cleaners into the play dough. Now, step back and watch them create some of the most interesting sculptures!! (I just did this with two children ages 3 and 5–make sure the dough is more rounded than flat or when dry it will crack.  It took several days for the sculptures to harden. It went quickly once they were placed on a raised wire cookie tray. Air was able to then circulate underneath.)


Put out a variety of decorating items such as pom-poms, beads, jewels, pipe cleaners, etc. Have kids bring OLD SHOES and watch creativity explode! Depending on the material of the shoes-use either a good white glue or hot glue. (Hot glue will dry faster) Photo from Carleton Place Public Library summer project.


The biodegradable packing peanuts MADE FROM CORNSTARCH can be assembled into fascinating sculptures simply by moistening one end of each piece with a damp cotton swab (the moisture melts them and makes them stick together.) Use these and other (bottle caps, twist ties, rubber bands) and stay busy for hours.


Assuming you can stop the kids from popping it all, paint a section and use it to make polka-dot snake skin-like prints.


Using the TOP of tissue paper boxes, cut pieces to frame small pieces of art! You can also cut out the tops from a variety of gift boxes. Cut out the center so that it is slightly smaller than the art to be displayed.

***MISCELLEANEOUS IDEAS Also check the Frugal and Program Money Saving Tips Category— Some really wonderful Recyled Ideas are also in there!

Children love to pretend they are building. Hammers, nails, and a handy block of Styrofoam or soft block of wood can be wonderful tools for fine motor skills. This is an activity that should be closely supervised. It would be fun to create a wood working area in your program.

When children ask, “How does this work?”
 help them to find out. Provide non-working toasters, clocks, VCR’s, tape recorders, radios and other appliances to disassemble. You can put these items on your wish list to parents.

Remove electrical cords and establish guidelines for taking things apart (only with adult supervision, at this table, no more than 2 children at a time, etc.) Caregivers can teach safe use of tools at disassembly stations where screwdrivers, pliers, and bins for sorting screws and small parts are stored.

JUNK MAIL JEWELRY (For older school age to adult)
Letters, fliers, and brochures sent by direct marketers are often very colorful. We can help the environment and save landfill space by making paper beads from it. Many of the mail pieces you receive are varnished, making this type of paper expensive to recycle. Because of their coated surface, however, beads made from junk mail are very strong and fairly waterproof.

You will need: Junk mail with a coated, shiny surface, Newspapers to keep area clean, Broken jewelry to string with paper beads (optional), Ruler, pencil, and scissors, White glue, Round tooth picks, Strong, thin string, such as kite string, Needle for threading beads

1.  Cut the paper into small strips approximately 3/4″ wide by 41/2″ long. Roll each bead by wrapping it tightly around a toothpick. Complete the bead by gluing the last 1/2″ of the strip. Remove the toothpick and repeat until all the beads are made.

2. Beads of different sizes may be made by varying the dimensions given. To make the beads bigger, use longer strips of paper. Change the width of the strips to make wider or narrower beads. (Chunky beads are from longer triangles while narrow long beads are from short triangles.)

3.  When stringing beads, alternate handmade paper beads with beads rescued from broken necklaces and bracelets, or make your own with pulp paper Mache mixture. Tie a knot in the string to complete the necklace, or use a professional clasp which may be purchased at a craft store.

You can also use magazine covers and other slick papers to make beads. Even materials with some printing will do, since only the last inch or so of the bead is visible.

Someone actually made me the above necklace about 15 years ago! (Angie Dockter at Brooklands School- K-Club)-and it’s beautiful! As you can see in the photo-they look like real beads! Thank you Angie! (Barb) Image by

Source: “Schoolage note of the day 5/20/08

  • Gather used wrapping paper/old magazines, scissors, glue sticks, one drinking straw per child and yarn.
  • Cut triangles from the paper that are approximately 2 inches across the bottom and 10 inches tall. Each triangle makes one bead.
  • Place the triangle wrong side up on the table. Lay the straw along the wide end of the triangle. Tightly roll the strip around the straw twice.
  • Put glue on the remainder of the triangular strip and continue to roll the paper evenly.
  • Finish the bead by gluing down the narrow end and holding in place until the glue sets.
  • Slip bead off of the straw and repeat this procedure until the desired number of beads are created.
  • String the beads on the desired length of yarn and tie the ends together


Take a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, or several pieces glued together, paint it and decorate it with beads, glitter, sequins, etc., Glue a jewelry pin on the back.

Materials Needed:
Toilet tissue tubes
Wax paper
Crayons (Paper removed)
Potato peeler
Rubber bands

1. Cut wax paper into rectangular pieces that when folded, will fit over the end of the toilet tissue roll.
2. Have children cut tiny pieces of tissue and place on wax paper. They can tear it if they can’t control scissors. Another variation is to have the child grate peeled crayons with a potato peeler onto the waxed paper.
3. Fold the waxed paper in half and press with a warm iron until the paper sticks together. Child can do this carefully.
4. Fasten the waxed paper to the end of the toilet tissue roll with a rubber band.
5. Hold up to light and see the various colors.

Materials: Paper towel tube, cardboard, construction paper, yarn, poster board

1. Tape or glue a round piece of cardboard to each end of a paper towel tube.
2. Cut a slot for the clown’s mouth, Make it large enough for coins to go through.
3. Paint the tube white, Glue on yarn hair and features cut from the paper.


(Uses “OLD” tennis balls)

  • Materials: Old tennis balls (If no one in your program plays tennis, put them on your wish list! Red paint and a paintbrush (You can skip this part if you’re able to find red tennis balls–look at pet-toys)
  • Brown pipe cleaner
  • Scrap of green felt
  • Two large wiggle eyes
  • Masking tape
  • Tiny red pom-pom
  • Black marker
  • Scissors
  • White glue or thick blue glue gel
  • Newspaper to work on
  • Plastic-foam egg carton (for drying the tennis ball on)

1. Have an adult use a sharp knife to cut a slit across the lower half of the ball for the mouth and to poke a small slit in the top of the ball for the stem. If you have a shop vise, you can use it to hold the ball steady while you make the cuts. The deeper the mouth cut, the easier it will be to squeeze the mouth to open it.

2. Paint the ball red. Let it dry on the plastic-foam egg carton.

3. Stick a piece of masking tape on the back of each wiggle eye to create a better gluing surface. Glue the eyes on the ball above the mouth.

4. Glue on the red pom-pom for the nose.

5. Cut a 2-inch piece of brown pipe cleaner for the stem. Push the end of the stem through the hole in the top of the apple.

6. Cut a leaf shape from the green felt scrap. Cut a tiny slit at the base of the leaf. Slide the leaf down over the stem through the slit so that it sits on the top of the apple.

7. Use the black marker to make a line over the cut mouth to accentuate it.

8. To make the mouth of the apple open and close, squeeze the ball on each side of the mouth.

This little apple puppet can pick things up with the mouth and swallow them. You might want to make a game of seeing how many things the puppet can pick up and swallow in a set amount of time. Try picking up small pom-poms or popcorn kernels, bits of cereal and raisins. The kids especially liked to play the ‘apple eats your nose game’.” More than one group reported apple puppets nibbling at other kids with much giggling— a part of the game.

Cover the table with newspaper. Put out poster paints and brushes. The kids can decorate the balls to look like faces, animals, or designs of their imagination. Be sure to use old tennis balls and let them dry before using them… This project gives triple use to the balls- you first recycle the ball as an art project, and then recycle it again as a tennis ball!

Need tennis balls and tennis ball containers to play or make projects?
Go to local tennis courts (clubs) and ask them to save the containers from the balls. Kids can decorate them with permanent magic markers then go outside and collect bugs. They are adorable and FREE. Also, I didn’t realize people only use the balls one time. The balls can be used outside and for crafts. From Mrs. Z in Michigan /Florida


2 Old Tennins Balls
Sport Sock (We all have the loan mate of the one the washing machine ate!)

You won’t believe how great this feels! It really does get out all thee knots in your back! Take a sports sock and place two tennis balls into the sock and tie the top of the sock up with either a elastic bandor a knot. Lay on top of it on the floor and roll yourself back and forth. You could also have someone rub it over your back, legs, etc.


Decorate old CDs to hang from the ceiling…

Cover the printed side of the discs, using construction paper and a glue gun. Use markers, crayons, paint, glitter pens and stickers to turn the discs into works of art. This CD is painted with acrylics.

  • Punch holes in the tops of the CDs and hang them with fishing wire or string.
  • They could also be used as coasters if you don’t wish to hang them!

2 old CD’s
Tacky glue
Yellow construction paper
String or yarn
Yellow sharpie marker

  • Cut triangles with about a 1 ½ inch base out of yellow paper.
  • Spread tacky glue onto printed side of CD. Place triangles onto the outer rim of the CD (where the base of the triangle is at the edge, but into the glue).
  • Place the end of the string/yarn onto the glue about 3/4 of the way into the glue, let the rest hang out.
  • Spread a little glue onto the printed side of the other CD. Now sandwich the CD’s together (printed side/glue sides together).
  • Write child’s name on the CD with the yellow sharpie marker. You have a sparkling sun to hang in a sunny window!

Does anyone still use film? If so – save those film canisters!
When you’re ready to load your camera, don’t toss out the film canister. The plastic container makes a lively finger puppet that’s easy and fun to make. All the dressing material can be used from previous craft projects.

If you don’t have canisters, put them on your wish list- or ask a local photo store if they have discarded canisters to donate.

Film canisters,
Colored plastic tape (electrician’s tape),
Tacky glue,
Collage materials (yarn bits, ribbon, buttons, sequins and wiggle eyes).

  • Wrap the tape around the canister’s top or bottom to distinguish the body from the head of the puppet.
  • Add hair and a face, and decorate the body using whatever collage materials you like.
  • Turn each canister over to fill it with a small amount of fiberfill to give the puppet a snug fit on a little finger.
  • Use the canister lids (slide them on the closed end) to make delightful hats for the puppets.
    One child used yellow pipe cleaners for a sporty flipped-up ‘do,’ wiggle eyes, and sequin leaves for a stunning gown. The film canister top looked really cute on top like a beret!
    From: Cassie/Mi.


Empty film containers or salt shakers with holes punched in tops.
A variety of scents such as: lemon garlic, vanilla, peppermint, cinnamon, coffee, etc.

Put a different scent in individual containers. Have children smell the containers and guess what each contains. You can also use a variety of essential oils on cotton balls and place them in the containers


Put up decorations made from recycled or reused materials. Instead of using crepe paper, cut strips of used notebook paper or construction paper and glue them together to form colorful chains to hang from the ceiling. Be creative!


TP tube or paper towel tube cut to desired height (Paint the tubes before decorating)
Paper heart doilies or construction paper heart shapes
Google eyes (for butterfly #2 )- black marker for simple version)
Pipe Cleaner
Decorations as desired

Kid Activities believes that children’s projects are best when they are open-ended. For this activity a variety of supplies were put out. (Crafters had a visual sample-but were told to create their own version.) Two samples are shown here

1. Both ‘Butterflies’ are similar but ‘R’ added a head and double wings. The wings have been cut out from the center of heart-shaped Doilies-however-construction paper hearts can also be used. The wings are glued over each other onto the back of the paper tube.
3. The pom-pom head sits on top of the tube and a full length ‘pipe cleaner antenna’ fold into the tube. (It’s size and thickness holds it in place) The mouth and nose are made from t ‘bits’ cut out of foam. Small ‘stick on’ foam hearts decorate the wings.

The more simple version for a ‘younger child’ uses one set of wings. In place of a pom-pom head–eyes and mouth are drawn on with a black permanent marker(Images by

Click here to see this site’s Wish List to Parents! Lots of great items for Recycled projects!
Click here to go back to ‘PAGE 1 of RECYCLED IDEAS!

Make Musical Instruments with Recycled Materials!


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