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Earth Day Craft Ideas Part 1

Earth Day is coming up April 22, so I thought I’d pass along some easy, kid-friendly project ideas for crafting with recycled materials. (I’m going to demo these during my craft segment on today’s “Take Five” show on WZZM channel 13 at 9 a.m. here in West Michigan.)

Since my TV appearances are one of my unpaid gigs, I operate with a supply budget of $0 which leads me to be very resourceful when I plan my segments. My recycle bin is a frequent source of my materials and this practice of crafting on a shoestring has led me and my kids in some fun creative directions. We’ve learned that you can make LOADS of cool stuff with what can be found around the house.

Security Envelope Mini Books

I have hoarded paper scraps since I was a very small child toting around an overstuffed purse loaded with… yes, you guessed it… paper scraps. My parents could tell you stories, but we’re just going to skim over those for now and get on to the projects.

The mini-books above were made with the patterned security paper from the inside of bank statementĀ envelopes and strips of paper that were cut off the printed copies of CraftSanity Magazine. (The magazine is an 8×8-inch square, and I couldn’t help but ask for some of the paper headed to the recycle bin at the print shop. The good news is that I’m not carrying wads of it around in an overstuffed purse. I take this as a small sign of progress.)

To make these little books, all you have to do is make a stack of scrap paper, fold it in half and cut a piece of an envelope or other recycled paper for the cover. The only “new” part of this notebook is a single staple to hold it together on the fold line. My kids enjoy making these books and then doodling in them. I left a really tiny one out for the Tooth Fairy to use to write a note to my daughter the other day, and we were all thrilled that the Tooth Fairy digs recycled notebooks, too.

Envelope Bookmarks

Another thing you can do with recycled envelopes is cut the corners off to make instant bookmarks. My daughters and I have been having some fun adding ears and animal faces to make the bookmarks appear to be animals peeking out of books. (By the way, if you have not read the “Ivy & Bean” books written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, you should go do that right away. My 6- and 7-year-old daughters LOVE them. We have read all of the books in the series aloud together and have thoroughly enjoyed the wild adventures of these unlikely friends. More on Ivy & Bean later.)

You can make very colorful corner bookmarks, but for some reason I made my sample with pencil. Perhaps I was feeling a bit timid and reluctant to commit to this bunny. Do yourself a favor and go brighter, my friends.

Cardboard Slotted Building Disks

This project is so much more fun than it looks. Yes, it is tedious to trace a bunch of circles onto the inside of your cereal boxes and other cardboard food packaging and then cut them all out. But do it for the kids in your life. Chances are good that they will get a kick out of building with them.

To make the notches, pretend you’re looking at a compass and simply make half inch cuts at North, South, East and West. Then give them to your kids and challenge them to make the tallest structure they can. This project has potential to be good for a few moments of parental peace and that is worth cutting a bunch of circles out of cereal boxes. I’m going to carry some of these in my bag so we can pass the time waiting for our food at restaurants and entertain the patrons sitting nearby with our mysterious cardboard disks. (Don’t tell anyone, but I happen to think these disks are really fun for adults, too.)

I have a couple more recycled crafts to tell you about, but I’m going to do that after I get home from my segment. It’s late and I’m getting tired. Unfortunately, I’m in the habit of crafting very tired on live TV. So if my eyes look puffy during my segment it’s not because I had work done, it’s because I have bags under my eyes and this is what happens when you don’t listen to your mother and go to bed at a reasonable hour. (I love you, Mom!)

Let me know if you try any of this stuff. I’d like to hear how it goes.

Have a great day. More in a bit…

UPDATE: Video of segment is now online

Comments

Comment from Bonney
Time: April 13, 2012, 11:27 am

A circle craft punch would make short work of all those circles!

Comment from jennifer
Time: April 13, 2012, 11:37 am

You’re right! You can definitely can use a die cut machine to cut circles, but you can’t get as many circles out of the cardboard if you do that. Regular hand punches will not cut through cardboard. Oh, how I wish they did. And this project is great for older children looking to practice their scissor skills. I presented this craft using a good old fashioned pair of scissors because it’s about crafting on a budget and I didn’t want to say: “Step 1: Spend $100 or more on a die cut machine.” I’m trying to keep it real and affordable. :)

Comment from EL
Time: April 14, 2012, 12:06 am

Security envelopes also make good origami paper. If you carefully open out the envelope, you can get a large square or a bunch of small ones.

Comment from Bev
Time: April 23, 2012, 8:29 am

Oooh, I love that bunny bookmark! Way cool.

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