recycled materials

Kids Recycled Christmas Decoration – Handmade and Homemade Too

Christmas has a very special kind of magic; a kids recycled Christmas decoration is a way kids can make some of that magic and pass it along to others. In Big Sister’s own words after she made something to give away, “I feel good.”

toilet paper roll star craft

Just a quick search oh Google gives so many ideas for items kids can make. Check your recycling box and she what kinds of treasures are in it. Paper towel and tissue rolls are nearly always in ours. There are a few water bottles and cereal boxes too. Along with a few scraps of fabric, buttons, wrapping paper, magazines, ribbon, and whatever else you can find in the craft basket, there’s plenty of material for little hands to explore and recycled Christmas decoration

Last week, when doing some Christmas pattern fun with paint dabbers we used some stiff cardboard and made candy canes. You could also draw a circle on a big enough cardboard and let kids paint a wreath. This wouldn’t have to be in a pattern, just a few sports of red to make berries and green all around.


Cut out stiff paper in any shape, such as a heart, star, circle, candy cane, and let kids paint the background color. When it’s dry they can use markers and crayons to draw or print a message.


These two Nativity scenes were made by the children of friends and readers, one with recycled water bottles and one with tissue paper rolls. Instead of just passively seeing the Christmas story, when children are involved in making different people and animals for themselves, they take on a much deeper role almost as if they were participating in it. Depending on your family traditions, recycled decorations may be much different. Tissue paper rolls can become the candles in a Menorah.


Old Christmas cards offer other options for making ornaments. Four circles folded in half and glued back to back make colorful balls to hand on a tree.

handmade Christmas decoration

Three toilet paper rolls can be opened up and flattened to make a six-pointed star. Add some color and glitter and enjoy it for years. An alternative is to have kids paint several of these with white as snowflakes. After all, we need more reasons to use glitter.

toilet paper roll star craft

Christmas isn’t just a season for receiving, it’s also for giving. Handmade and homemade items are ones that come from our hearts. A kids recycled Christmas decoration is sort of like giving one to Nature, isn’t it?



Wood-scraps Dragon Castle Craft – Recycled Treasure for Play

Some bits of wood made for a fun and exciting wood-scraps dragon castle craft. Along with some glue and paint, the kids created their own toys and fun.

dragon castle craft

After adding some shelves in the garage, we had a few bits of wood left over. Instead of recycling them, I gathered them into a box and gave them to the kids to use. Wood absorbs glue so they needed a couple of refills to the small dishes of white glue. Before getting the glue, I gave them a chance to build with the wood scraps and try them in lots of different ways. After quite a few minutes, they were ready to attach their creations together. Using popsicle sticks they slathered on the glue and stuck the pieces together. They were having so much fun, they wanted more, so we found some corks to add. Their castles were quite elaborate.

dragon castle craft

Glue needs time to dry so once they each finished their wood-scraps dragon castle, we carefully put them in a safe place and cleaned up. It was hard for them to wait and not just for an hour or two but the whole rest of the day and overnight. The next day the castles were ready, so out came all the paints and another good chunk of time. To do this, we spread newspapers over the floor to catch the drips. Even though the paint lids were carefully set to one side, Little Sister managed to stick her toes into a couple of them and paint the bottoms of her toes instead. This was tremendously funny. A couple of rags tidied that up and the paint lids got moved even farther away.

dragon castle craft

Toys don’t have to be something we buy for kids. These wood scraps had and continue to have wonderful play value. Besides the building and the painting, the kids have played with these castles several times. One day, they used some dragons and another day, some different small plastic figurines. The castles transformed into schools during another play session. The dragon castle craft turned into an imaginative and creative toy.

dragon castle craft

To find wood scraps, you may have to be creative and ask around. Lumber stores may have a bin of bits of wood, or a building site. Is there a new house going up in your area? Usually, once you let a few people know, they will watch for you and save some for your kid-dragons. Small boxes will also work. Cereal and other food boxes, toilet rolls, and items in the recycling basket are other treasures. Dragons may need to be reminded—no breathing fire on this dragon castle craft. What other recycling treasures can you suggest?

Kids Play with Anything #21: Child’s Play with Recycled Materials

How can stuff in the recycling basket or box be more appealing than toys? Somehow, kids will play with anything including play with recycled materials.

Boxes, plastic containers, paper, cardboard rolls, cotton stuffing, coffee cups, foil pie tins, empty cartons, styrofoam trays, corks, and many other things are all treasures for kids and play. The ways kids play with recycled materials are as varied as all the stuff.

play with recycled materialsOne of the ways young toddlers play is by putting things inside each other. This might be a small plastic bottle in an empty cereal box which the toddler then dumps out. To a child, this is a game to do over and over. Kids might like to just line up items or to stack them. Egg cartons are useful for sorting.

play with recycled itemsA few jar lids make an intriguing sound for some sensory play when they are jiggled inside a coffee tin. Other objects may also be used to make shakers. Stuff in the recycling bin can be used to represent other items. For instance, assorted items might be money or food or candles. This is part of symbolic play.

recycled-learning-toolsPretend and imaginative play make good use of recycled materials. Little Sister set up a restaurant with plastic containers. Another day, she used similar items to create a grocery store.

play with recycled materialsIn addition to sensory and imaginary play, these materials are useful for crafts and art play. The sides of cereal boxes are usually blank and because they are stiffer, are great for painting. They don’t fall apart as easily as paper does when it gets wet. Cotton balls from bottles are fun to glue as snow or clouds, or pussy willows on a tree.

During play with recycled materials, kids are developing their creativity and imaginations. They are planning, problem-solving, exploring cause and effect, and strengthening brain muscles and body ones. Their play will be open-ended and self-directed because the materials do not limit and define how kids use them. These unlimited possibilities are an advantage over what we usually think of as toys. Do you have a bin of potential play for your child?