Thursday, December 26, 2013

Five Eco-Crafts For the Kids

Christmas may be over (already!), but Christmas break is not. If the cold winter is keeping you all cooped up inside, why not occupy busy little minds and hands with a few fun crafts projects? Savvy parents know you can turn just about anything into a craft project.  With a little paint, paper towel tubes can become swords or caterpillars.  Shoeboxes can become dollhouses or a little red fire engine.  Why not use everyday throwaway items and turn rainy or snowy afternoons into crafty afternoons?  Here are five eco-crafts the kids can have some fun with during the winter break:  

#1.  Jazzed up origami.  Origami, the Japanese art of folding paper, teaches children to have patience and follow directions, and they can make some pretty amazing projects.  A collection of old magazines or used Christmas wrapping paper can become a star mobile or a lantern or mobile they can hang in their bedroom. You can find lots of fun books full of origami projects online or at your local library. This was one of my favorite hobbies as a kid!

Milk carton
Milk carton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#2.  A milk carton birdhouse.  You’ll need a clean and dry cardboard milk carton, white glue, tempera or other non-toxic paint, twine, and scissors. 

Glue the top of the carton shut.  Paint carton with paint and let dry.  Cut a 2-inch hole about 4 inches up from the bottom of the container.  This is the bird’s entryway. 

Poke a hole through the top of the feeder, string a piece of twine through the hole and hang your feeder on a tree. Place a bit of birdseed inside container to attract birds.

#3.  Use old socks to make neck warmers.  Fill a ski sock or other large sock with buckwheat and dried lavender.  Sew up the end of the sock and you have a neck warmer.  Pop it in the microwave to heat the buckwheat to soothe sore neck muscles and enjoy the aromatherapy.  Pop the sock into the freezer and place on your neck to use during warm days or to place on injuries to reduce swelling.

#4.  Collect small metal items - cans, bottle caps, bobby pins, buttons, and square spice or other food containers and have your children make their own robots!  You can also use mismatched silverware for their arms.  Plastic lids work well for heads.  You’ll need a good craft glue that can bind metal to metal and plastic to metal.  Old screws, bolts, electrical wire and nuts will add to your child’s imagination.

A glue gun. Picture by Luke Surl I hearby rele...
A glue gun. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#5.  Old jeans also make a variety of fun projects including a book bag or a notebook cover.  Adults can do the large sewing jobs or for smaller projects, children can sew by hand.  A notebook cover needs to be measured for size, making sure to leave enough overlap that the cover can be closed, cut and hemmed on all sides.  A button fastener can be attached to keep the cover closed. 

Book bags can be made by cutting the seat of the jeans off mid-thigh, cutting through the place where the legs join and then sewing front and back together.  A handle can be created to carry the bag or a zipper can be sewn in the waistband. 

There are literally a thousand craft options to make good use of things you  have lying around the house, or were planning to throw away.  These are just a few ideas to get you started.  Get creative, and have some fun with it!

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