Learning how to make paper mache or sock puppets will teach kids all about reusing and recycling, while helping them to become creative, independent thinkers. They’re great fun, too, and as research posted on Global Classrooms suggests, an astonishing 43% of parents think their child might need to spend more time just having fun.
- Transformer van: Make like Optimus Prime and transform your old egg boxes into a cool car, a van or even a stretch limo. Milk bottle tops are the perfect size for wheels, and each division within the box makes a great seat for a small cuddly toy. With just a little paint, a few coloured pens and maybe some glitter, the possibilities are endless – cut out some of the top for a sunroof, or add extra bits of card cut from a toilet paper tube to create fins and streamlined curves.
- Sock puppets: It doesn’t matter if they’ve got holes in them – old socks can still serve a purpose! Depending on the children’s ages, either stick or sew on features like eyes, ears, and a tongue sticking out of the ‘mouth’. Wool scraps can make great hair, which will also cover any holes, and loose buttons make effective noses. Save lots of socks to make puppets with different personalities, staging a whole puppet show.
- Bug empire: You can transform practically anything into bugs. These can then be moved around as counters in a game, become paper weights or just swarm around the house. To make them out of pebbles, use paint to create stripes, eyes, dots or just fuzzy hair. Strong acrylic paint is best for this, as it will adhere well and the colour won’t just soack into the rock. Once the design is finished and the paint has dried, mix some runny glue with a little water in an old cup or yoghurt pot and paint this over the rock to seal in the colours.
- Paper mache: Learning how to make paper mache is a great way to use up old newspapers, and what you can create is only limited by your imaginations! Blow up a balloon and tear newspaper or any other kind of scrap paper into pieces. Mix two parts glue with one part water, then dip the paper into the mixture and lay it over the balloon. Keep going until the balloon is completely covered, then let it dry and pop the balloon. Paint with whatever design takes your fancy. Find a more detailed tutorial on how to make paper mache here, along with instructions for an ambitious hot air balloon project. If your office produces a lot of paper waste, you should also check out these tips to kick up your recycling another notch.
- Foil art: Take an old piece of aluminium foil and carefully smooth out the wrinkles, without tearing it. Scraping it with a ruler over a flat surface can work well. Then, use a pen to trace out a design, whether that’s people, flowers, or a miniature mural scene. Turn it over, and the pattern will be embossed into the foil. These make great glamorous ‘Thank you’ or birthday cards, especially if you add paint or glitter to the finished design. Mixing tempera paint with a little washing up liquid will help it stick better.