Indoor Fun with Recycled Materials      

A cold, wet winter can make children and caregivers a little stir crazy. This can lead to more screen time, which the children will probably be getting more than enough of outside of the classroom. If you are looking for some simple, no-cost ideas to engage your students indoors and away from a screen, consider some of the following activities using recycled materials.

A cardboard box can be used in many ways to inspire children’s creativity, and they are easy to find, especially during the holidays. A box can be used as a surface to paint or draw on or as an easel that paper is attached to. It can also be used as a container for a sheet of paper as your child rolls a ball dipped in paint onto the paper. Additionally, a box can be decorated and turned into a castle, car or anything else your children imagine. 

Hands on AsWe Grow has this fun fine motor activity with golf tees and a cardboard box.

Toilet paper or paper towel tubes are also versatile and can be used in many ways. They can be dipped in paint to make circular prints. Several tubes can be taped together to make a tunnel for cars, balls or marbles to extend children's play. They can also be used to make musical instruments like maracas.  Check out Casa Maria’s blogspot for this fun art activity with a cardboard box and paper towel tube!

Cereal boxes make a great surface to glue items on. Just cut the box out and provide your child with a collage of items to glue like strips of construction paper, fabric, newspaper ads, yarn, tissue paper, greeting cards and other items found in your drawers. You can also turn the front of the cereal box into a puzzle by cutting the cover into four or more pieces to put together.  While children are putting the pieces together, you can help them practice learning the name and sound of the letters they see. See it in action at Munchkinsand Moms.

Children love to build with blocks, so provide them with some tape or glue and invite them to build with the items listed above (boxes, toilet paper/paper towel tubes and cereal boxes), as well as other items you and your families find around the house.  Look at this ball maze made from recyclable materials at Frugal Fun 4 Boys.   

Some materials used to create with may be considered choking hazards and not appropriate for children under 3 years old. If items are small enough to fit inside a toilet paper roll, they are considered a choking hazard and require close supervision.

What are some of your favorite games and activities you do with recycled materials?