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For both kids and adults, making our own stuff is rewarding, be it as simple as a long-flying paper airplane or as advanced as a house. You can use even more DIY prowess by going the eco-route; construct those airplanes out of old magazine pages rather than fresh printing paper, or build an EarthShip house out of recycled tires rather eating up more resources.

Learning to transform garbage into something useful rather than wasteful, and aesthetically pleasing as opposed to heaping pile, is a great lesson for kids (as well as adults). It teaches us to think more innovatively, conserve what we have and entertain ourselves without touchscreen technology or 157 channels. And, in the end, we are left with something funky, possibly sentimental and sometimes quite functional. That’s why these five projects are a great way to spend an afternoon or weekend morning.

Tin Cans

Adding a little life to your balconies, porches or gardens is always a plus, and tin can wind chimes are a great way to do it. All it takes is a few cans (vary the sizes), a little paint, some twine and a hoop (could be flimsy plastic, a strip of vine, whatever). Paint the cans with cool stripes and polka dots. Punch a hole through the bottom, and string them up to the hoop. Challenge yourself to find not just the cans, but all of the materials from secondhand sources.

Try Your Hand at These Five Fun Upcycling Projects (Perfect to Make With Kids!)
All You


Do you have lots of tin cans? Try these as well:


Boxes come from every direction, quite literally. Supermarkets, mailing services, movers, electronic shops and on and on and on — they all use boxes, mostly on a temporary, getting-from-point-a-to-b basis. Well, cardboard boxes are fantastically useful for all sorts of things. Try these educational dice. Cut six sheets of cardboard to equal size, choose a topic (colors, shapes, symbols, math, etc.), make an appropriate picture on each board, and bang! The kids have created their own educational tool that will no doubt entertain them while they learn.

Try Your Hand at These Five Fun Upcycling Projects (Perfect to Make With Kids!)
Pink Stripey Socks

Plastic Bottles

These days, want them or not, plastic bottles just happen. They are very difficult to avoid, so it’s important to make the most of them when they appear. Luckily, they are quite useful. One thing they are definitely good for is making planters of all sorts: vertical gardens along the wall, dangling planters, or just these easy self-watering planters, which are great for an herb garden (another worthwhile activity for the kiddos). Transform that garbage into something that can help provide fresh, healthy food for your family!

Try Your Hand at These Five Fun Upcycling Projects (Perfect to Make With Kids!)Indulgy

Toilet Paper Tubes

Granted, we are definitely stretching the word upcycle here, but toilet paper tubes are the greatest garbage-gone-art-project material in the world. From rockets to race cars to castles to fun figurines — the toilet paper tube makes for a fine looking piece of kid art. A stellar project is making cuff bracelets, using colors and tidbits to decorate sections of the toilet roll, and as always, the person who uses more garbage than new stuff wins!

Try Your Hand at These Five Fun Upcycling Projects (Perfect to Make With Kids!)
Crafty Morning
  • There are loads and loads of holiday crafts to be made from toilet paper tubes. Make sure to start saving these.

Reducing waste, being creative, learning something, keeping busy — is there anything to lose here? Try these projects and have some fun!

Bottle Caps

Bottle caps are tiny, which means they are perfect for tiny people to make cutesy things. It also means they are easy to save in great numbers and indicate a glass over plastic choice, which is a better thing for the environment. Anyway, the classic bottle cap upcycle is the refrigerator magnet. It’s easy to do. All you need are eco-friendly paints, kid-friendly glue, bottle caps and magnets. Googly eye stickers also seem to go over well, but aren’t necessary. Magnets are simple, easy, small and hard to get wrong.

Try Your Hand at These Five Fun Upcycling Projects (Perfect to Make With Kids!)
The Country Chic Cottage
  • Another great project is a game board. It could be checkers, backgammon or even tic-tac-toe. Paint the bottle caps two different colors and use some scrap wood or cardboard to make the game board. Recycled entertainment.

Lead image source: The Country Chic Cottage

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