Recycled Art For Earth Day

by Allison McDonald

earth day activity for kids Earth Day is coming up and I have been talking to my kids more and more about why we recycle and what we also try to re-use at home.  As you can imagine we re-use many things for projects and activities I write about on the blog. So much so that my son will often hand me his garbage and say ” Can you use this for a project?” Even I haven’t found a good use for string cheese wrappers ! Today we are using a collection of recycled objects for a wide open recycled art project. As you will see my daughter has a favorite earth friendly painting tool.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paint, a tray for the paint, some paper, and recycled objects to paint with.  We went around the house and into my art closet to choose the objects.earth day activity for kids
  2. Pour paint into the tray ( or cake pan) . I had my daughter look outside to tell me what colors she saw. Then we used those colors for the painting. I have the paper taped down because I had a feeling she’d end up finger painting and this keeps the paper from sticking to her hands and ending up on the floor.
  3. Explore! earth day paintingThis is wide open . She liked the toilet paper roll  but hated the little cap. earth day painting with recycled objectsThe ribbon spool made interesting prints but the real fun was in using her hands.earth day craft The ultimate re-usable paint brush! earth day craft for toddlersAfter plopping on the paint with her hands she explored the marks that some of the recycled objects made. earth day art projectRolling the toilet paper roll was a fun discovery too. earth day painting with toilet paper rolls

Books About Recycling

plasticbottle

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The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling by Alison Inches is awesome! I only wish that my son was old enough to enjoy it as much as I did. It’s not aimed at 2 year olds at all, but he did like to open it to the page with the recycling truck and point out all the parts to me. The book itself takes the reader through the complete process from crude oil, to bottle and then to synthetic fleece. I am not too proud to admit I learned s a few new things and had a few good laughs along the way with the books little bits of humor too. I think most 5 year olds would enjoy this book, and it’s easy to break it down for those unable to sit for this much text. Also the book was printed on 100% post consumer waste paper.

Trash and Recycling

Trash And Recycling by Stephanie Turnball is a great book ! I learned more about garbage and the recycling process reading this to my son over lunch than I ever knew! He loved it and despite being a pretty sophisticated book for a 3 year old immediately asked to read it again as soon as I closed it. It explains the whole process from curbside pick up, land fills, incineration and recycling. The idea for today’s activity came from the sorting of recyclable garbage from this book!

 

Monster Box

by Kim

This activity is a great one to keep tucked away for rainy days. You can use things from your craft stash and some regular household items.

What you will need are stickers or self adhesive craft foam pieces, chenille stems, and an empty box (we used a facial tissue box and a sandwich bag box).

This part is the easiest. Have your child cover the box with stickers and craft foam pieces.

While they are having fun you can make fun little appendages for your monster. We bent the chenille stems in zig zags and wrapped them around pencils to get a neat corkscrew look.

I simply poked small holes with a pencil and threaded the stems into the holes and bent the tip to keep them from coming out.

We cut out some white traingles and added some teeth.

What you have is one terrifyingly cute monster box.

Now your kids have a fun monster to play with. Our monsters ate random items and stored small toys.

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Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.

Recycled Paper Hearts

handmade recycled paper

I have been meaning to make recycled paper with my son for ages. Finally after finding way too much scrap paper in my art closet when I cleaned it out I knew there was no time like the present ,especially with Earth Day only days away.  This was not a hard craft but it does require adult participation. I have done it in a class without the use of a blender by soaking the paper for days.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need scrap paper, newspaper,a bowl , a blender, water , towels and a window screen. I also used a plastic cutting board to dry the paper on.
  2. Start by ripping your scrap paper and newspaper into small pieces. The smaller the better.
  3. Add water . We used a bottle from our recycling bin to help ease the mess.
  4. Squish, let soften for as long as your child will wait. We didn’t wait too long but the blending is easier the squishier you get the “pulp”.
  5. ADULT ONLY – using a blender blend the water and paper pulp.
  6. Put towels ( old ones from when your husband went to Mexico on Spring break in college) under your screen.
  7. Pop the pulp on it.
  8. Press the water out. We just used a dish cloth ( smooth cotton not fluffy).
  9. Flip onto a cutting board and let dry.
  10. We popped ours in our laundry room and let dry for 2 days.
  11. Then cut them out into hearts and added some ribbon and gave them to some dear friends.

Earth Day Books

This post was originally written for earth day but has been much more popular at Valentine’s Day in the past few years…. Loving the earth is good any time of year though. As always our book lists include affiliate links.


The EARTH Book by Todd Parr is a great Earth Day book for preschoolers and young elementary aged kids. It focuses on small everyday steps kids can take to help the environment as well as how these little everyday measures help. The way the text is written it begs for discussion whether you are reading it to a class of 25 or in bed with your only child. Add om Parr’s wonderfully whimsical, bright, bold illustrations and you have a super Earth Day book.

Love Your World by Dawn Sirett is a how to manual for kids who want to be good environmentally responsible citizens of the earth. The text is lack luster at times but the message , tips and overall presentation is still worthwhile . It is a little longer and doesn’t have a warm fuzzy story book feel but would be great to kick start a unit of teaching for 4-8 year olds about conservation.

Gabby and Grandma Go Green by Monica Wellington is another wonderful book from one of our favorite authors. In the book Gabby and her Grandma spend a day together  dedicated to going green. First making a great reusable bag and then using it all around town. I love that they go to the library and that is portrayed as a way to go green as well as a place to learn more about environmental efforts. Also showing ways to make a difference at the grocery store is perfect for young kids who are often tagging a long with parents on these errands. I can’t end the review without also mentioning the baby sibling who is sleeping in a sling at the end of the book , I love seeing baby wearing in books!  This is a great environment themed book that works all year round not just for Earth Day.

Trash Rainbow Craft

trash collage rainbow craft for kids

I love rainbows. With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner rainbows have been popping up every time I sit down to brainstorm activities. This one was particularly fun because it used things I am cleaning out of my craft dump closet , incorporates my son’s incredible love of pretend play ( he’s a garbage sorter) and most every preschooler’s desire to sort.  You can do this in 2 parts sorting one day, making a rainbow the next or if I was still teaching I’d do this as a cooperative group project. My 4 year old did all the way up to putting the trash on then lost interest until I started putting some on and he ran back to the table saying he could do it better (is everything a competition in your house too? Sigh) so we did the gluing together.Make sure whatever materials you use that they are safe for the age/ ability of child you are doing this with.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a large piece of paper ( I used a grocery bag cut open ), glue, scissors, colored pencils/markers , 7 small containers, small squares of paper in the colors of the rainbow, a mixed mess of “garbage ” -paper/ buttons/foam/plastic toys/ribbon in the colors of the rainbow.
  2. Next fill a container up with all the “garbage”
  3. Start sorting by color.
  4. I was so pleased with how much he liked this part of the activity. It seemed to go on and on forever as he pretended to need a coffee break from his job at the garbage sorting factory. We are not short on imagination in this house.
  5. While he returned to work I made the rainbow with colored pencils.
  6. Time to add glue. We added two glue for a few colors at a time.
  7. Add the objects! We did this part together
  8. Add more glue.
  9. Add more objects.
  10. Let dry.

Books About Rainbows

All our book lists include affiliate links.


Duckie’s Rainbow by Frances Barry is a clever little book , you walk with her as she passes things like a yellow cornfield and blue pond until the pages above create a rainbow . I love the idea but reading it with my son ( who was 2 at the time) all he wanted to do was turn the pages as quickly as he could to make the rainbow. Not a big deal but this would make a better story time book then a bedtime one for that reason.

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Elhert is a wonderful book to use for teaching about flowers and colors. The illustrations are bold and bright, perfect for little curious minds. I have always liked this book because you can sit down and dive into it reading each flowers name on every page , or browse it more casually with a younger child simply noting the colors.

This project too complicated for your toddler? Yesterday in my Link &Learn weekly linky this awesome rainbow project from Toddler Approved was linked. When I saw it after writing this post I knew it would be a perfect link to share as an option for younger kids so I added it in .

Paper Roll Shamrock Craft

by Kim

St. Patrick’s Day is coming and the kids and I made these cute four leaf clover bouquets. The idea for this craft struck me when I was making a Valentine’s Day heart wreath. All you will need are toilet paper rolls, green paint, green chenille stems, scissors, and a hole punch.

Have your little one paint the toilet paper roll with the green paint. Be sure to get it covered inside and out.

Once dried (we let ours dry overnight) bend the roll in the shape of a heart.

Use your scissors (big kids can cut this, but little ones will have a very hard time) to cut slices a little less than an inch wide.

Use your hole punch to make a hole very close the the bottom tip of the heart.

You can have your little one thread a chenille stem through the holes on four hearts. Then turn the end and twist it to the stem tightly. Be sure to fold the exposed tip over to avoid the metal poking your child.

This is the final result. I wanted to get pictures of my daughter threading the hearts and holding the clovers, but we were having a toddler meltdown moment about getting our picture taken.

These make great four leaf clover wands, you know to turn things green or make rainbows appear. You can use them for decoration. You can always use your four leaf clovers for something more fun. Like maybe something to diffuse a toddler meltdown…a silly mommy.

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Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.