It’s no secret that we’re big on recycling crafts here at The Craft Train. Today we are sharing 40 of our favourite recycled craft projects to inspire you to grab a piece of discarded rubbish and get making!
From cardboard boxes to upcycled bottles and lids, to paper rolls, egg cartons, newspaper and even recycled artworks there are tons of idea to choose from.
You might also like these nature craft ideas
When my children were young one of their favourite ‘toy boxes’ was our basket of recyclables that I kept in the craft room.
I’m not surprised because there is something very satisfying about turning a piece of old rubbish into something new. Egg cartons can be re-imagined into DIY toys, cardboard into castles, plastic bottles into planters and almost ANYTHING can become a musical instrument.
They’re big girls now, but they still love DIY’s and our recycling basket is still going strong.
Because Earth Day is coming up, and because it’s always good to think of ways to reuse waste, I’ve created a go-to list of recycling crafts you can make at home.
40 fun recycled crafts for kids
Cardboard box crafts
- Make a cardboard box castle fit for princesses and plastic ponies. This idea was not only fun to make as a mother-daughter project but got TONS of play.
- My daughter dreamed up and created this flying fairy car mostly by herself as a preschooler
- Turn a cardboard box into Noah’s Ark and fill it with stuffed animals from your toy box
- We turned an amazon delivery box into a DIY solar oven for baking rocky road treats and melting crayons. This is a great science project for hot summer days.
- Sight word practice can be boring… unless you have a very hungry sight-word eater in the house! Make one from a cereal box and feed him tasty sight word snacks.
Cereal box crafts
- Cereal boxes make the BEST giant bookmarks. They make sweet kid-made gifts and are adorable place markers in any book, but particularly in BIG books.
- We’ve turned a cereal box into an ice skating theatre with skater puppets who glide and twirl on magnets. This is a fun STEM craft idea.
- Create a DIY cereal box board game (this one is a prehistoric dinosaur land) to pass the time on a rainy indoor afternoon.
Recycled cardboard crafts
- We’ve used a hot glue gun to create texture in these heart-shaped cardboard beads that have been turned into a necklace
- Whirlygigs are fun, classic DIY toys. We’ve made our own whirlygigs from cardboard disks with a printable paper pattern glued on
- The cardboard insert from a packet of sheets can be turned into a beautiful pair of rainbow dress-up wings. These ones are kid-made.
Egg carton crafts
- How cool are egg cartons for crafting? Make one into a fire truck with a shoelace hose for putting out big, bad bush fires!
- This egg carton sugar glider can stretch out his legs to glide just like a real one
- Did you know that egg carton cups make excellent mini helicopters with a bit of glue and paint?
- The girls loved creating their own hand-painted egg carton jewellery boxes for storing special treasures. We decorated the outside with egg carton flowers.
- Make a bouncy egg carton spider string puppet. Isn’t he cute with his big, red nose?
- This egg carton reef lights up in the dark to make a beautiful, coral-themed night light. The printable tropical fish are a free download on the tutorial.
- The girls had a lot of fun making and then playing with these egg carton trains. The compartment cups are the perfect size for transporting small toys around the house.
- Here are five different ways to make egg carton flowers. You can make a whole bunch of them!
- Recycled bottles have been turned into colourful DIY painted ‘snow globes’.
- Experiment with liquid density with these oil and water discovery bottles. Watch the bubbles mix and then separate when you shake them.
- Plastic bottles have been turned into animal-themed planters. You can get the face shapes as a free printable download with the tutorial.
Recycled lid crafts
- Jar lids strung with loom bands make the cutest mini lid banjos.
- Plastic milk bottle caps can be turned into musical shakers, experiment by filling them with different things to see what noise they make.
- Recycle plastic takeaway lids into a glitter lid mobile. We hung this one on a tree in our back garden.
- Turn a clear plastic lid into a leaf mosaic dreamcatcher. String some gumnuts and leaves to the base to decorate.
- I adore these recycled squids with bottle cap and plastic bag legs. It’s so much better than letting it gather in our oceans! By Eleanor from Mini Mad Things.
Paper towel roll crafts
- Make some fun and arty shakers from paper towel rolls filled with coffee beans or rice.
- Paper towel rolls, when squished, are just the right shape to turn into a lizard. We’ve made frilled neck lizards with cupcake liner necks.
- experiment with sound by turning a paper towel roll into an iPhone speaker – so cool and practical too!
- Make some paper towel roll seahorse puppets on sticks. This is fun for an ocean-themed craft idea.
Toilet roll crafts
- Squish and snip your toilet roll, then pop into shape to make these pretty paper roll swans. They look great in rainbow colours.
- Make Batman and Robin from a pair of toilet rolls and a little bit of paint and felt.
- These paper roll fish are so, so simple to make. They are one of our all-time most popular crafts.
- Dolls that can only smile are so boring, right? Make some toilet roll empathy dolls with our printable template. They can cry, get angry, and feel anxious just like real people do – and, of course, they can also smile.
- Make a toilet roll diplodocus and triceratops using our free printable template and a squash, cut and pop-into-shape technique
- This paper roll tree is a fun collaborative art idea and looks gorgeous when finished. It has been inspired by the book Art Workshop for Children by Barbara Rucci
Recycled paper ideas
- Shanon from Oh Creative Day has managed to turn kids artworks into this beautiful arty bird puppet
- Create braided paper bangles from newspaper painted with liquid watercolour
- How sweet are these newspaper chicks in their newspaper nest?
I hope we’ve given you a starting point for some cool upcycling and recycling ideas. These projects are just the tip of the iceberg, there is no limit to what you can make!