Fun and Easy Earth Day Recycled Crafts and Activities:
These are strange times we’re living in. I never thought we’d be stuck at home for literally months on end, homeschooling while trying to get our own work done. But here we are. There’s no just popping out to the store for last-minute craft supplies, and even having an Amazon Prime membership doesn’t guarantee your packages will get here anytime soon. So with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day coming up, I started thinking about easy Earth Day recycled crafts and projects we could do with things we already have on hand.
And what better to recycle than those toilet paper tubes from all that toilet paper we’re now using at home, versus at work or school?
So if you’re looking for recycled Earth Day projects to do with your little ones this year, here’s a range of fun and easy Earth Day recycled crafts and activities for that stash of toilet paper tubes, and other recyclables, you’ve been piling up over the past month-plus.
Fun Activities and Easy Earth Day Crafts Using Recycled Materials:
FEED YOUR BRAINS:
1. Marble-run box
You know those marble-run toys that kids can build? Well, a great craft for preschoolers and early-elementary kids is to build their own marble run toys inside a large cereal box. Kimmie built this one when she was in pre-K, complete with “viewing windows” so she could watch the marbles run through.
If you don’t have a large cereal box, you can always cut the bottom off another cardboard box and tip it on its side. You can also use other small paperboard boxes; one of the chutes in Kimmie’s box was originally a toothpaste-tube box, turned inside out.
Kids have to use trial and error to figure out how to design a track where the marble doesn’t jump off the track and escape the box. Having the correct angles helps with this, but so does extra paperboard and a good supply of tape (or a grownup’s help with a hot-glue gun).
2. Marble-run sculpture
Older kids may prefer a marble-run sculpture they can reconfigure into lots of different patterns. Assuming you already have some super-strong (neodymium) magnets at home, as we do, you can do this on your refrigerator or a metal (exterior) door. (NOTE: this is NOT a good activity if your family has little kids around, as these magnets can be extremely dangerous if swallowed.)
Again, having other types of cardboard around is handy for things like corners. You can use markers, paints, crayons, washi tape, or whatever you have around to decorate the outside of your marble-run pieces. You can also open boxes and turn them inside out if you like, so you can decorate the uncoated surfaces, then staple or tape them back together.
No magnets? Try attaching adhesive Velcro to your cardboard pieces and putting them up against a felt board, or using flat thumbtacks to attach them to a cork bulletin board.
FEED YOUR FAMILY:
3. Plant starter
Have you thought about planting a garden from seed this year? If not, this is the perfect year to give it a try.
RELATED POST: How To Start A Garden At Home
Fortunately, toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls are the perfect size to hold seed-starter pellets. Cut the roll into 1-inch lengths, put them on a tray, drop in your moistened/expanded pellet, and tuck in your seed. (Your kids can even draw on the outside of the rolls first, if they like.)
4. Compost material
If you have a compost pile to supplement your garden, you can tuck in a few toilet paper or paper towel tubes; cutting or unpeeling them into smaller strips first will help speed their decomposition.
Unlike many types of paperboard you may have in your cupboards or recycling bin (think cereal boxes, frozen foods boxes, etc.), toilet paper rolls and paper towel tubes aren’t coated with a glossy cover layer or protective wax. This means that like cardboard egg cartons and newspapers, they’ll break down to help enrich your soil. Just don’t go overboard with the paper matter – a little goes a long way.
FEED YOUR PETS:
5. Cat toys
Rub some catnip (if you have any) on an empty toilet paper roll and let your cat bat it around the floor. When they tire of that, tie a piece of string onto it and drag it past your cat, so your kitty can chase it. When that gets old, tie a stick onto the other end of the string and make a fishing-rod-style dangle toy out of it.
Though I’m now allergic to cats, we used to do this sort of thing all the time when I was little with our cats. They especially love the fishing-rod-style one; anything dangling that can unpredictably dance away from them is a sure hit when your feline is in a playful mood.
6. Gerbil tunnels
Gerbils and other small rodents like it when you change up their toys. They also like tunneling.
If you have your gerbils out to play, you can make a fun obstacle course for your pets by putting toilet paper tubes and/or paper towel rolls on the bottom of the bathtub. (Putting an old towel down first will help your pets gain traction, and will also make cleanup afterwards easier.)
Just be prepared for what will come next:
7. Gerbil chew toys
Rodents are unique in that their teeth never stop growing. Because of this, they need to gnaw on things throughout the day, to keep their teeth worn down so they don’t get too long.
And while you never want to give your gerbil cardboard with tape on it or glossy surfaces, a toilet paper roll makes a great safe chew toy for your gerbil to shred. Plus, once shredded, the former roll will blend in with the rest of their bedding in their habitat, giving them more fun stuff to burrow through.
FEED YOUR IMAGINATION:
8. Recycled jewelry
If you cut along a toilet paper tube the long way, you’ll have a curled piece of paperboard that you can then cut into shorter C-shaped lengths. With a little decoration, you’ve got a great assortment of bangles and ear cuffs for dress-up play.
9. Percussion instruments
Decorate a toilet paper roll, seal one end with tape or paper, add a teaspoon or two of dried beans, seal the other end, and you’ve got a homemade shaker instrument for your next family jam session.
Do the same with a paper towel roll or other longer paperboard tube, and you’ve got a homemade rain stick. Add a larger container like an oatmeal box, and you’ve got an entire percussion section.
10. Superhero armor
Remember Wonder Woman’s wrist cuffs? You can make your own superhero armor at home with toilet paper rolls.
Just cut one the long way, and decorate with tape, paint, markers, sequins, etc. Just beware that sequins don’t always stay on well with glue; you may find double-sided tape, or making tiny rolls out of tape, a better bet.
What fun recycled crafts and activities have your kids done with all your family’s excess toilet paper rolls from life under #stayhome? Let us know in the comments!
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