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Recyclable Art

In honor of Earth Day, let's talk art. Granted, I've spent way too much time strolling the aisles of Michael's for craft supplies. Paint in the big jars. Brushes. Glitter glue. Felt. Pipe cleaners. Beads. Play-Doh. Wooden cutouts with magnetic strips.

Here are some of my favorite "recycled" projects over the years:

1. Plastic water bottle shakers: We Jews call them groggers. For the rest of you, think of them as loud noisemakers. Take an old plastic water bottle. Fill it with pebbles or anything else small and noisy lying around inside or out. Glue on the top. Then give the kids decorations. Those can be leftover scraps of paper or beads glued on. Or try different kinds of paint that stick to plastic.

2. Puppets: Gotta love popsicle sticks. You can glue anything -- paper, felt or use your imagination -- to them and make your own puppet show.

3. Robots: Wrap different sized and shapes boxes in colored paper or wrapping paper. Leave the tops and bottoms open so you can connect arms, legs and the head with paper fasteners before sealing. Cut-up egg cartons and bottle caps wrapped in foil make good hands and feet, ears and eyes. Toilet paper rolls work for legs and arms. This one's courtesy of The Fantastic Rainy Day Book by Angela Wilkes.

4. Gardening: Now's the time to get going on growing food. If you haven't already started seeds, it's not too late. And you don't need to go to the garden store to find them. Just grab some from inside the peppers, tomato, cantaloupe, cucumber or beans you are already cutting up. Put them in some soil, water and cover till the plant emerges. Then put it outside in a sunny spot. You can also start seeds straight in the ground outside. Just be prepared to fight off the birds or squirrels who may dig them out before they sprout.

What are some of your favorite recycled art projects?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  April 22, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Preschoolers , Tweens
Previous: Bunching Up Babies | Next: Free Range Isn't Just for Chickens

Comments


Invite lots of kids to your kids' birthday parties. Rejoice in all the loot your kids rake in and wonder at the pile of wrapping paper and birthday cards. Teach your kids to write thank you notes and waste even more trees.

Put a big emphasis on STUFF in your family. It will pay off!

Posted by: ????????? | April 22, 2008 8:13 AM | Report abuse

I don't do art. The obligatory trip to Michaels to pick up stuff for the requisite diorama(s) is my version of hell.

But gardens, now, that's another question entirely. It didn't come naturally -- I have horrible childhood memories of weeding the zuccini and tomatoes in 90+ heat, only to be "rewarded" with the 18th zuccini-related meal in a row. But we bought an old house with what the prior owner bragged was the best soil in town, and it felt like a shame to waste it.

The light bulb moment was when I realized there are no rules that say every garden must contain vegetables, which I pretty much don't like. So I planted what I do like: strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Unfortunately, the owner was right about the good soil -- the weeds were 6 feet high! So the first year we chopped and rototilled and got about half of it cleared, and now I'm slowly trying to clear the rest of it as the blackberries continue to spread.

But the best part is the cooking. My Granny grew up on the farm and always had a garden, so I learned to bake pies and make jam from her. When I putter in the kitchen for hours figuring out what to do with this giant load of berries, it takes me back, and I feel like I'm carrying on a tradition that's close to dying out. Now if only I could plant some peach trees so I could learn to make her spice peaches. . . .

Posted by: Laura | April 22, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Teach your kids to write thank you notes and waste even more trees.

Posted by: ????????? | April 22, 2008 8:13 AM

Get a life. It teaches manners. Something a lot of people who blog here lack and it's really sad since most of you are raising kids.

Posted by: 21113 | April 22, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

My son has made a lot of cute things with toilet paper rolls and egg cartons in preschool. We made a caterpillar with an egg carton for my daughter's second grade science homework project, not very original but she had fun doing it. The biggest thing we use at home for recycled art is the backs of paper from letters, school hand-outs, whatever, for drawing and painting. Those inexpensive watercolor paints work great and my kids will paint several masterpieces per session.

Posted by: PT Fed Mof2 | April 22, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Get a life. It teaches manners. Something a lot of people who blog here lack and it's really sad since most of you are raising kids.

Posted by: 21113 | April 22, 2008 9:10 AM

Your version of a life is to chastise strangers on a parenting blog? Pot, meet kettle.

Posted by: gcoward | April 22, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

gcoward, get a new writer. That 'pot, meet kettle' line is really getting old.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

"gcoward, get a new writer. That 'pot, meet kettle' line is really getting old."

"Thank You" notes, meet Earth Day.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

1. Save your baby's soiled Pampers and use them as table napkins.
2. Save your tampax applicators, tie red ribbons around them and hang them on your Christmas tree. Or use blue ribbons and hang them on your Hannukah bush.
3. Use your stretched out bras for bird houses. Just nail them to tree branches by each end and let birds nest in the cups. After a couple kids, those stretched out hold-em-ups could house a few families of turkey vultures.
4. Droopy plants? Tie them up with lengths of runny pantyhose.
5. Stop buying the Washington Compost. Ever notice they pile up in the basement and breed amongst themselves? Just like pro-life liberals.
6. Overrun with cardboard boxes from Amazon.com? Take them to a shelter for the homeless and let them build their own houses.
7. Old Odor-Eaters taking over your house? Glue them to your tires for blow-out patches, then you can tiptoe into a parking space.
8. More coffee cans and mayonnaise jars than you'll ever need in the garage? Take them as porta-potties for long road trips. No more stopping every two hours for toilet breaks.
9. Junk mail filling up your mailbox? Just scratch out your name and write "Return to Sender" on the envelope. It keeps the postal clerks (no pun intended) busy and all that useless paper our of YOUR house. Let it fill up somebody else's house.
10. Dreadful artwork stuck to your fridge with magnets because your darling little devil's child will cry if you throw it away? Well, just collect it all, shred it, tell them to put it all back together. Put a little maple syrup on their fingers first. Oh, the hours of peace and quiet while they rise to the challenge. The first one to accomplish the task gets into Harvard with a scholarship.
11. Don't throw away those used coffee grounds! Mix it into a thick paste and repave your driveway. On a hot, humid day your front yard will smell like a Starbucks. You latte-sucking Yuppies will feel right at home.
12. Egg shells piling up? Cut them to size and glue them on your fingertips. Think of all the 'nail artists' you'll put out of business.
13. Get a life -- If Algore hadn't produced that "Incontinent Truth" movie would you all care about Earth Day at all?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

If that wasn't forwarded to you, if you actually came up with all that, BRAVO. Well done.

Posted by: atb | April 22, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

atb, it was not forwarded to me. Apparently some of us can come up with original stuff now and them.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I've seen some neat collages made out of old puzzle pieces (you know, the ones we've lost several pieces to already?) and magazine pictures/photos.

If you can find a few simple figures and cut the paper into squares for the kids, magazine paper isn't too awful for doing origami-type stuff (dogs, cups, boxes, and airplanes come to mind as being relatively easy).

Old newspapers are neat for papier-mache-type things (cover a balloon with gluey newspaper, let that dry, add tissue-paper fins/tail and googly eyes, and you have a cute fishy as a rainy-afternoon project).

Same basic principle can be used to make old jars (cleaned out) into pencil holders using glue and tissue paper (makes a pretty stained-glass effect).

For slightly older kids who want to learn how to sew (I did, and my niece does), CLEAN old T-shirts can be used for fabric to sew together.

Posted by: FWIW | April 22, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

How about volunteering at the local recycling place and cleaning up and painting to make it a brighter and more organized place?

Posted by: Liz D | April 22, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I thought this column was going to be about sneaking your kids volumes of art projects into the recycling bin. hee hee - not that I would ever do anything like that.

Posted by: Moxiemom | April 22, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"Invite lots of kids to your kids' birthday parties. Rejoice in all the loot your kids rake in and wonder at the pile of wrapping paper and birthday cards. Teach your kids to write thank you notes and waste even more trees"

Oh joy , the "make a leather bracelet piece of crap and give it to some poor soul" is back. Kumbaya, Kumbaya, yada yada. BLECH!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Hey! Wow! Getting actual seeds out of a piece of fruit or vegetable. Never in a million years would I think of that! Genius, genius, genius.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Well, if your veggies were hybrids, which most commercially available stuff is, they won't breed true. That is, a pepper seed will still grow a pepper, but it most likely won't look and taste like the one you bought.

Posted by: marshlc | April 22, 2008 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Well, if your veggies were hybrids, which most commercially available stuff is, they won't breed true. That is, a pepper seed will still grow a pepper, but it might not look land taste like the one you bought.

Posted by: marshlc | April 22, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

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