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Family Fun: Upcycled Arts and Crafts


A wooden plank with painted wooden slats

You’ve heard of the three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle. But what’s “Upcycle?” It just means to take something that might have gotten recycled, make it a little different, and use it again! Classic upcycling would be decorating a tin can and using it for a pencil holder or cutting pictures out of wrapping paper and making a collage. Here are upcycle craft ideas that use things you may have around the house! Click on each title to find the websites.


When was the last time you made a puzzle? Maybe today’s the day. On a rectangle of cereal box cardboard (or something about that weight, so it’s easy to cut), write the numbers 1 to 10. Or 1 to 20. Cut the numbers apart to make interesting shapes. Have the kids fit the pieces back together in order. Voilá!


A colorful pile of puzzle pieces

If you have toilet paper tubes, paper towel tubes, or even potato chip cylinders or oatmeal containers, you might have percussion instruments just waiting for you to make them! This set of instructions adds nails to get that “rain stick” sound (little things falling down), but you could make a shaker instrument. Just remember to make the top and bottom stay on tightly, so there isn’t rice all over the floor


Another idea for toilet paper tubes! Use these biodegradable little seed starters and get your garden off to a good start. Either peel away the roll before planting, or just plant the whole thing.


A carton of farm-raised eggs

Make a game from an egg carton! Seriously, you could probably think up 22 different games to make from that egg carton. But here’s an easy one. Color the inside of each space a different color that matches a random item you found around the house. And there you go, a matching game! (If your marker pens aren’t the right color, either get creative with paper bits instead or just approximate. The kids will forgive you.)


Upcycle BOOKS? No way, right? Well, sometimes books are just too … “loved.” They’re either headed to the recycle bin or the craft pile, so make the best of it! Your lovely book pages can become decorations on a Mother’s Day card, bookmarks, collage inspiration, or even a new book. How do you do that, you ask?


One more idea, this time for “altered books,” which is another way of saying upcycled books that happen to have those amazing sturdy pages.


Book that has been turned into art by cutting the paper into geometric shapes

Have another idea? Share it with us in the comment section below.


Have fun upcycling!

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