Before you whip out your art and craft gear, it’s important to talk to the kids about what upcycling is and why it’s so important. Explain that similar to recycling, the projects you will be undertaking together are good for the environment. "By reusing what we already have, we are helping to save the environment and the world's animals", you could say.
If your kiddies haven’t yet learnt about what these terms mean at school or from you, incorporate a few minutes of learning about the environment into their daily routine. There are tons of great online resources to help you out, so don’t neglect this important part of their education. Your first upcycling project may even be to create a poster out of old cardboard filled with all the new words they have learnt related to recycling, upcycling and the environment. Alternatively, make it part of the children's chores to dig through their cupboards for old clothes, toys and craft materials. It’s a decluttering project and educational lesson all in one!
Now that you’ve done the homework of explaining upcycling, you can get started crafting. Here are five simple upcycling projects you can do with the kids using cardboard boxes, old jars, tin cans and toilet paper rolls. Plus, there’s a fun colouring-in project at the end. Enjoy.
Cardboard Box Board Games
Families world over have been hosting game nights to keep entertained in lockdown. If you’re short on family-friendly board games, make your own out of a cardboard box. You can make anything from Battleships to Foosball and even a handheld labyrinth. Let the kids decide which game they would like to make (this way they’ll stay invested in the project). Check out the video below for inspiration and then get busy making!
Glass Jar Fairy Lamps
Every child needs their own night lamp to help scare away the Boogeyman. Rather than purchase an expensive new light for their bed stand, get them involved in creating their own fairy lamp made out of used glass jars.
You will need:
- A large jar (pickle jars work best) that has been washed and scrubbed of its labels
- An old sponge or paintbrush
- A string of fairy lights with rechargeable batteries or a battery-operated tea light
- Craft glue
- Fairy template or black cardboard
- A few sheets of white tissue paper or white acrylic paint
Tin Can Marimba Band
Have you always wanted to start a family band? Now you can! Gather the kids together to create your own instruments out of tin cans. Please be sure to thoroughly rinse your cans first and check for any sharp edges or snags - the last thing you want is a nasty boo boo when working on an upcycling project. Remove all labels from your cans and then get started transforming them into a set of drums, shakers or clashing cymbals. Let the kids paint their instruments using acrylic paint and once they are dry, fill them with grains of uncooked rice or popcorn kernels. Jam session anyone?
Click here for more fun homemade musical instruments you can make with the kids.
Toilet Roll Train
In the time before kids could code by the age of six, toilet roll snakes and trains were the coolest school projects. Teach the kids about what your school days were like with this nifty upcycling project. After nearly two months in lockdown, you should have ample toilet paper rolls stored away. Get the kids to paint their train or snake and then help them string it together. You can use old bottle caps for the train wheels or odd buttons for the snake’s eyes. The family member who makes the slinkiest snake gets an extra helping of pudding after dinner!
Last, but certainly not least, is the funky shoes project! We all have a pair of shoes in our cupboards that could use a little TLC. Encourage the kids to find a pair of shoes that still fit them but may have lost their colour or are looking a bit worse for wear. These should preferably be cotton or canvas sneakers, but any old shoe will do. Now, let the kids unleash their creative energy by either colouring in or embellishing their shoes. You can use khoki pens, fabric paint, fabric cut-offs, melted wax crayons or stick-ons to jazz up your shoes. Just be sure to lay out lots of newspapers to catch any spills or mishaps!
Good luck with all your upcycling projects! Let us know how it goes.