Top 5 Child-Friendly Arts and Crafts Ideas From Recycled Materials

Our children spend enough time in front of screens. Your kids are likely bursting with creativity and don't even know it yet. Spending time with your kids can be as easy as having a few basic arts and crafts ideas. Today we'll be looking at a few different ideas to repurpose some household recyclable materials to create something new and exciting. A few things we'll need are egg cartons, plastic bottles, cereal boxes, empty jars, or even empty tin cans.


1. Hanging Soda-Bottle Planters


Soda bottles take up space and often end up in your recycling bin or the trash can. In this green-living idea, you and your kids can easily craft your bottles into art or hanging planters in three easy steps. Be sure to pay close attention to your kids or work closely together on this project as plastic bottles can end up having sharp edges.


  1. You can start by finding an empty 2-Litre or 70oz Soda bottle. Next, cut a round hole across one side of the bottle to create an opening.
  2. Poke a small string-sized hole at either end of the bottle then feed the string through. Run your desired length of string through each hole, then knot the ends.
  3. Fill up your hanging bottle planted with dirt, plant a seed, and hang it up wherever your plant with getting enough light.


Tip: If you're worried about sharp edges on the plastic bottle, keep some sandpaper nearby and use it to sand around the edges of the opening you've cut out.


2. The Nebula Jar


What's a nebula jar, you ask? A nebula jar is essentially a mason jar that's filled to look like a stunning interstellar nebula-in-a-bottle! 


To get started with this project, you'll need a clear glass jar with a lid, tempera paint, cotton balls, water, glitter, and a utensil long enough to stir the contents of the jar all the way to the bottom. Keep in mind that each step we go through will be an individual layer. 


Let's get started, shall we?


  1. Fill your jar with water to the desired level of your first layer.
  2. Add any color of tempera paint and mix it in until it resembles the color of a nebula.
  3. Add cotton balls and glitter (the smaller your glitter, the better). Keep stirring your mixture until the cotton has had the chance to soak up the water and paint.
  4. Repeat until your jar is full and screw the lid on tight. It doesn't hurt to give your nebula jar a shake.


3. Egg Carton Crab


One of the most abundant recyclable household items would be an egg carton. And instead of throwing them in the trash, you can recycle them to craft cute little creepy-crawlies out of cartons! 


For this art and crafts idea, you'll need an empty egg carton, acrylic paint, pipe cleaners, craft glue (or hot glue), scissors, and some glue-on googly eyes.


  1. Carefully cut out a cup from your carton with a pair of scissors. Be sure to trim away any excess cardboard around the cup.
  2. Paint the outside of the carton cup red, or with your favorite creepy-crawly color(s).
  3. Cut pipe cleaners for legs and antenna. You can glue the legs on to the inside of the cup. You can curl two of the pipe cleaners upward at the front to resemble claws.
  4. The final step is adding eyes. Glue pipe cleaners to the eyes to extend them off the top or front of the crab, or just glue them on without a pipe cleaner.


Your crab should now be ready for play or decoration. Using the same steps and some pompoms, you may even want to try making a ladybug, or a beetle (or really any cute little cardboard critter that you can imagine)!


4. Cereal Box Guitar


The cereal box guitar may be the perfect craft idea for your older children. Bear in mind that this project requires some hot gluing, and with that a bit of parental supervision. 


Your kids may be artistic and expressive in more ways than one, music is also an art, and making a stringed instrument is a whole craft of its own. For this project, you'll need a cereal box, a large cardboard tube, clothespins, duct tape or washi tape, a hot glue gun, and a pair of scissors.


Here are the steps:


  1. Trace a large circle on to the center of the box and cut it out.
  2. Trace and cut another circle on the top of the box, using the cardboard tube as a guide. Insert the tube and gently tape the tube to the box around the edges of the hole. Use additional tape to make sure it seals the top of the box.
  3. Using duct tape, secure the desired number of different-sized rubber bands to the top and bottom of the box, stretched over the center hole. 
  4. Secure the frets (you can use clothespins or actual glue-on frets) to the top of the cardboard tube using hot glue.


Congratulations, you've now made your own cereal-box guitar! 


If you want to take this craft idea a step further, you can go over it with paper mache. After you're done, sand the outside until it's smooth with fine-grit sandpaper, and paint the outside with your favorite artsy designs.


Tin Can Arts and Crafts Caddy


This one might need some extra adult supervision, albeit it's a fun art idea. A tin can arts and crafts caddy is an easy way to keep your supplies and materials organized and accessible when your art and crafts ideas strike. 


For this project, you'll need several tin cans, a large coffee can, matte mod podge, some plain fabric, some string or yarn, and fabric paint from the craft store. And if you've got some t-shirts lying around that you're not going to wear again - go ahead and recycle by using them instead of plain fabric for this project!


So, now that you've got all the supplies in order let's get right into this awesome project!


  1. Using mod podge, wrap your pieces of fabric around the can. However, be careful not to use too much mod podge, or the fabric paint won't adhere.
  2. Using your creative artistic ideas, paint designs and patterns on to the fabric and let it dry. 
  3. An adult should do this part (or it should at least be done under strict adult supervision). Using an awl and a hammer, punch two holes near the top of each can.
  4. Tie each can to the coffee can by using your yarn or string.


And voila! You now have a beautiful and practical piece of art to store your craft supplies in.


Closing Thoughts


Finding new exciting things to get your kid engaged and creative can definitely be a challenge, especially when it comes to the cost behind some of the famous "Insta-Worthy" arts and crafts. However, if you were looking for low-cost arts and crafts' ideas to enjoy together, our painting by number kits would be perfect!


Arts and crafts ideas are only limited by your imagination!


So bust out some old t-shirts, cereal boxes, and other crafts supplies to create some fantastic eco-friendly projects together with your kids. We hope that our list of the top 5 child-friendly arts and crafts ideas from recycled materials gave you some inspiration and a few new projects to do with your little ones!

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