Recycling, reusing, and repurposing seem to be the words of the day. While it can take some work, and there is no instant gratification like being bought in a store, the rewards far outweigh the trouble. Transforming objects, especially with kids, teaches imagination, creativity, and the ability to think things through to find solutions. In addition, it is a lesson in the old adage, “waste not, want not”, and more importantly in how we can help the planet.
Cardboard is one of the easiest materials to recycle. It is found everywhere. It can readily be cut down, it comes in many different thicknesses, and it is versatile. For our summer camp, one of the most enjoyable projects for the campers is the cardboard maze. Large boxes that can be cut down are easily found during the summer when people tend to move. Our maze had a castle theme allowing for other projects to stem from this theme. Turrets and a drawbridge were added. The campers were told that the drawbridge had accidently been left opened and a dragon wandered inside. In addition, a knight went to find the dragon, the treasure chest was misplaced, a diamond ring and a crown were lost, the prince has turned into a frog, and the king could not find his royal underwear. A scavenger hunt ensued.
The kids had so much fun looking for these pictures that additional images (unicorn, key and scepter) were added the next day. All throughout the maze, the kids could be heard shouting out their finds. “I found the dragon, I found the underwear.” The excitement was heightened. While the maze is inexpensive (the cost of duct tape), it does take time and space to assemble. It is, however, well worth it when one sees the enormous fun the kids have.
Playing on the castle theme and also using cardboard, the campers made mask and paper bag crowns to become princes and princesses. They also slayed a dragon made out of a box, and rode around on horses and unicorns that were made out of milk cartons for the heads, covered with brown or white paper bag and attached to a mailing or wrapping paper tube.
Another day and theme during our recycling week was transportation. The room had 5 different activities set up, mainly utilizing cardboard again, but also using bottles and milk cartons. A bus and cars were made out of boxes in two stations. At a third, the campers had great fun sitting in a boat made from gallon and liter plastic containers.
The boat was able to support three kids because the bottles with tops maintained the air pressure. It would have been interesting to see the boat afloat.
Three of the activities were on a big scale where the kids could actually sit in or on the vehicle. The other two activities were on a smaller scale. At one station the campers played with boats made from milk cartons. A milk carton is an ideal recycling material for these easily made boats which are capable of floating. Lastly the kids played on a cardboard surface that had been painted and divided into 3 sites consisting of the moon, an airport, and a raceway. The kids played with cars and rocket ships made from toilet paper rolls while planes were made from cereal boxes.
There are so many materials that can be used for recycling and reusing. Cardboard is the easiest to use and find, but other materials work just as well. Large and small cans from local restaurants are perfect, although the edges must be taped to prevent getting cuts. During our week of recycling, the kids used the large cans as drums and building blocks. They also made wind chimes out of the smaller cans. The magnetic characteristic lends itself to the use of magnets. We had fun with a robot made from the larger cans. Old pots and pans work just as well as the cans, have a magnetic surface, and can be repurposed (for example making them into instruments). Unfortunately there are no images of the large cans.
While imagination and creativity are useful for finding new uses of recycled materials, ideas are within anyone’s reach through Pinterest. Besides saving money, the fun of repurposing is so rewarding…and it helps our earth.
Here are a few other pictures of recycling to follow.
Post by Heather Alberts