Kid-Friendly Crafts that Teach the Three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

reduce reuse recycle for kids
Photo by Maria Symchych/shutterstock

It’s never too early to teach kids about reducing their waste, reusing what they can, and the importance of recycling. Implementing the three Rs into various craft projects is a great way to impart these lessons.

Not only does this stretch their creative muscles, it also helps with lessons in avoiding being wasteful and getting creative about using one person’s trash in order to make your own treasure. Whether you’re making toilet paper roll binoculars or melting broken crayons, you’re teaching kids about ways to reuse items and why we should all focus on reducing our waste.

Toilet Paper Roll Binoculars

Sure, toilet paper rolls can be recycled, but they can also be used to create a host of different fun craft projects. One of those craft projects include toilet paper binoculars. This can encourage kids to use their new binoculars outside instead of staying indoors so often. In addition to that, it teaches them that you can reuse these items for crafts and that paper items are easy to recycle. You’ll need:

  • Two toilet paper rolls
  • Construction paper
  • String
  • Glue

Use the construction paper around both toilet paper rolls and glue it in place so that the tubes stay together. Tie each end of the string to each tube so that the binoculars can be worn around the neck. Allow the child to decorate their binoculars with crayons, paint, or by gluing leaves to them to create a camouflage look.

Egg Carton Planters

Egg cartons are common household items that you can turn into tiny planters. This teaches kids about planting as well as reusing and recycling. Plus, it teaches them about another great lesson involved with reducing, reusing, and recycling: composting. You’ll need:

  • An egg carton (cardboard, not styrofoam)
  • Seeds
  • Soil

Help the kids to plant a seed in each egg carton opening with some soil. Take the time to water it, provide sunlight,and watch its growth progress. Once it’s bigger, you can transplant it while it’s still in the egg carton, as the cardboard will break down like compost.

Treasure Art

This is a very open-ended art project, but it teaches kids about not littering, reducing your waste so it doesn’t end up outside, and reusing trash to create treasure.

First, take kids outside to find trash and put it in bags. With some luck, you can also use a metal detector to find some really cool items like hidden caches, and the promise of real “treasure” is a great way to get young ones interested. Otherwise look for small items like plastic lids, wrappers, bottle caps, and change. You’ll use these items to create an art project. You’ll need:

  • A bag of small trash treasures
  • Glue
  • Construction paper

Allow the kids to take their items and create a piece of art with them by gluing them to a piece of construction paper. Maybe a yellow bottle cap is the sun, and the wrapper makes up the body of a dog. Let them use their imagination. While they work, talk about why you don’t litter, and how you should always recycle these items so they don’t end up outside.

Melted Crayons

Coloring is a great activity for kids, but it’s not uncommon for new crayons to eventually end up broken and in disarray. However, instead of throwing these crayons away, you can create a project out of them by making big, multicolored crayons out of their broken crayons. You’ll need:

  • Broken crayons with the paper removed
  • A cupcake tin or fun, shaped cookie sheets

Have the kids help put broken crayon pieces of their choice into a cupcake tray or cookie sheet. Bake at 275 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Let them cool and harden, then give the kids their new multi-colored crayon created from reused broken crayons. Just be sure you keep an eye on them so they don’t use the end product to color on the walls. While there are plenty of ways to remove crayon from your walls, it’s often harder to remove different crayon brands melted into one giant crayon – though not impossible.

There are a lot of ways to teach the three Rs when doing crafts with kids. Even if the lesson is secondary to the project, it’s still allowing them to learn about reusing and recycling items. The value of reducing your waste and being mindful about recycling is powerful, and each small lesson works together to help children develop this understanding.

Sam Bowman writes about families, wellness, and how the two merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

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