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Recycling for Kids: Activities, Projects & Ideas

June 07, 2021

Teaching kids about recycling is important because through this they learn to care for the environment and how to build a sustainable future. Recycling projects for kids also teach them about responsibility, reducing waste, and creative problem solving.

While recycling household waste, such as plastics and cardboard, is a significant part of recycling, recycling for kids can also include repurposing and up-cycling items, and finding creative ways to reduce waste. There are truly endless ways to get kids excited about recycling, for kids are creative and resourceful and will soon be coming up with their own ideas. But to get you started, we’ve selected some fun recycling activities for kids that are easy and achievable for all ages.

Bottle and can collection

Sorting out the household waste into recycling is an activity that helps to teach kids about recycling, and setting up a bottle and can collection project also helps kids practice recycling while learning about money.

Show your child the small 10c recycling logo that can be found on plastic bottles and cans, designate an area in the shed or garage for them to store their stash in a box, and let them build up a collection. Once the box is full, help them to take it to the recycling depot, and cash in their hard work. You could encourage a long term project and recycling effort by suggesting they think of something to save for, so that they will keep collecting until their goal is reached.

Recycled paper

Making your own paper is the perfect way to demonstrate to kids that you can reuse and repurpose with exciting and fun results. This project will use up scrap paper, and can lead to many more fun craft activities to use the colourful and unique paper you will make together.

What you’ll need:

  • Scrap paper
  • Bowl
  • Newspaper
  • Blender
  • Water
  • Towels
  • Old window fly screen
  • Plastic cutting board

Method:

  1. Rip all of your scrap paper into very small pieces - kids will love this step, because they’ll get to rip up paper to their heart's content.
  2. Put the paper in a bowl and cover with water, then leave to soak.
  3. Once it’s softened into a pulp, it’s time to blend. Put in a blender, or use a stick blender in the bowl to blend until smooth.
  4. Place an old towel on a flat surface, and put the screen on top, then spread the pulp over the screen.
  5. Press out excess water from the paper pulp with a dish cloth or towel.
  6. Flip the flattened pulp onto the cutting board, and leave somewhere out of the way to dry for about 48 hours.
  7. Once it’s completely dry, you can use it to draw on, or for more craft projects.

Egg carton caterpillar

This is a very easy yet effective craft project that can be done with small children. Simply cut along a row of 6 egg cups in a 12-egg carton, have your child paint it with caterpillar colours and draw a face on the front of the first cup. Use two small pieces of craft wire to poke through the top of the face cup for the antennae. 

Watermelon boats

Composting is not the only way to reuse scraps - although this craft can still be composted once it’s been played with. This is a great activity for summer, because you can enjoy the delicious juicy watermelon, and then use the peel to make boats to use in the pool or bath.

What you’ll need:

  • One whole watermelon
  • Sharp kitchen knife
  • Large spoon
  • Paper and pencils
  • Skewer

Cut the watermelon in half width ways, and scoop out the inside. You can use ice-cream scoops to make a delicious pile of watermelon balls, and clean out the peel. Eat the watermelon immediately, or save for later.

Draw and cut out a large flag shape, and have your child colour their flag how they wish. Then make two small holes in the flag and thread it onto the skewer, and push it into the base of the watermelon peel (being careful not to stab all the way through, or your boat may sink!). Now your child can take their new boat to the pool or bath, and enjoy playing with it. 

Ways to get kids involved

Here are a few more recycling ideas for kids to get you thinking creatively:

  • Grow vegies out of scraps – plant the ends of spring onions and celery and watch them grow
  • Make reusable shopping bags out of old clothes, pillowcases, or sheets.
  • Find ideas on Pinterest for making art out of bottle caps.
  • Make a robot costume or cubby house out of cardboard boxes.
  • Use scrap fabric or scarves to wrap gifts for birthdays instead of tissue paper. 

The otions for recycling activities for kids are endless, so use these activities, projects and ideas to begin your recycling journey with your kids, and see how quickly they begin to come up with innovative ways to reduce waste and recycle. Find out how childcare centres can get kids involved with recycling, and use Toddle to find an approved childcare centre near you.

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Written by

Emma

Toddle is the most comprehensive child care finder in Australia, on a mission to make parents’ lives easier.


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