Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Treasure From Trash!

Ready for more no-cost teaching tools? Right in your own home, there are many opportunities to create learning from things you come across every day. Everyday items like cardboard tubes, yogurt and baby food containers, ends of wrapping paper - all have secondary uses for craft projects. It just takes a little imagination to find the next great recycling use!

So, before you fill up your recycling container, check for second uses for some of those objects -

Water bottles:
Make a set of measurement bottles! Using a measuring cup and some water, find the level for several different amounts (half a cup, one cup, two cups, etc,) and use a permanent marker to mark the outsides of a few different bottles. Then mix up a batch of colored water by adding a few drops of food coloring and let your child measure and pour to their heart's content. They will be learning about more and less, quantities and measurement, all kinds of great things!

Use a water bottle to make an "I Spy" toy that's great for all kinds of learning skills - as well as quiet play if you're going to be out somewhere :) Use an empty water bottle that is completely dried out - fill it with confetti (shredded paper) and add items to search for- either small objects or pictures on heavy paper (glossy magazine or card stock). When complete, fasten top on with a small bit of craft glue or use a glue gun (adults only please!). When your child shakes it up, differerent objects will "appear."  I've seen these done for different letters (ABC bottles) or concepts (a beach bottle, a bug bottle, etc.).  Have fun with it!

Egg Cartons:
Sort out beads in egg carton cups to get ready for pattern making - keychains, bracelets, or just string on a chenille stick - an egg carton will help you sort them out as well as keep them from rolling away!

"Creature" making - Bugs, worms, caterpillars - use some washable markers and attach some googly eyes and some pipe cleaner legs - and, presto! Use your creative skills and see what you come up with!

Use part of an egg carton as a disposable paint organizer! Are you painting with three colors? Four? Put just the amount you want to use in a strip of egg cups and when you're done - no clean up necessary!

Cereal boxes:
Heavier cardboard boxes are just right for cutting into stencils for tracing! Cut into shapes, different stencils for different seasons - hearts in February, shamrocks in March, bunnies in April - and it won't cost you a thing! Your children will have hours of fun and improve their pencil grips and small motor control at the same time!

Paper Towel Rolls:
Every child loves a telescope! Decorate your paper towel roll with paper, tape, stickers, etc. to make a great "focusing" device ...then play "I Spy" for all things that begin with certain letters, have specific shapes or colors - whatever strikes your fancy! Adaptations that are fun to try: "Leprechaun-scopes" for St. Patrick's Day for seaching out little elves, "Santascopes" for you-know-who with a little tag attached:  "On Christmas Eve night, look up in the sky, Santa's reindeer may fly by!"  Use your imagination!

Plastic Containers:
Use tops for individual paint trays and bottoms for water containers for watercolor painting. Use containers and baby food packages for stashing small craft items like beads, stickers, buttons, etc.

Wrapping Paper Scraps:
You get to the end of the paper roll and there's not enough left for another package ... save these scraps for collages and shape projects. Multicolored papers make great flower petals for cut and glue practice. Cut some into shapes and use them as picture starters - an oval piece might be a person's body - add head, arms and legs and keep going! Holiday paper can be cut into little cards for little hands to use at holiday time!

Have fun!

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