If there’s a rainy day this summer – or, conversely, a day that’s too hot for you to leave the comforts of your air conditioning – you might be looking for fun activities to do with your children indoors. One fun thing you can do as a family is some arts and crafts.
The only downside of arts and crafts is that it often results in a significant amount of wasted materials. Using new paper – or worse, plastic – isn’t something eco-friendly parents want to do. Instead of wasting products, you can be green and even save some money by using recycled materials in the arts and crafts activities you plan on doing as a family. Here are some examples of our favorite arts and crafts ideas:
If you or your children are fans of fresh flowers, you might enjoy flower pressing, a craft that preserves flowers. Maybe you have a lot of flowers in your garden or are looking for something to do with the flowers that are still blooming after the rest of your bouquet has begun to dry out. Regardless, this craft involves minimal waste and creates a stunning finished product.
First, you’ll want to make sure the flowers you are planning on pressing are fully bloomed. If you aren’t pressing them right after picking them, you should store them in the fridge to maintain their freshness. Once you’re ready, you’ll need to prepare them for pressing. You’ll need to cut the flower stems at an angle and remove any lower leaves, as too many of these can dry out and lower the lifespan of your flowers. After cutting them, it’s best practice to put the flowers in a vase of fresh water and a teaspoon of sugar so they can absorb as much moisture and nutrients as possible.
You’ll want to hydrate your flowers for a few hours before pressing them. When they’re ready, grab an old book and your pressing paper and start pressing, spacing the papers out evenly through the book’s pages. You may want to use an old book that you don’t mind aging a bit for this, as the moisture from the flowers might cause some of the pages to wrinkle. Weigh down the closed book with the flowers and paper and leave it be for some time, likely a few days. When you think they’re ready, remove the flowers from the pressing paper with tweezers.
Papier-Mâché with Used Newspaper
Anyone who’s done papier-mâché knows that this craft requires you to use thin paper, usually newspaper or magazine pages. Rather than going to the store to buy newspapers – and wasting new paper as a result – find some old newspapers you have lying around the house. Best of all, if you can anticipate that you and your kids are going to want to papier-mâché together, you can save a pile of magazines and newspapers from previous weeks and months. By using materials that are already sitting around your home, you’re reducing the amount of waste your family is creating, lowering your environmental footprint slowly but surely.
One papier-mâché craft we find to be especially exciting is a vase. You can use other items that are sitting around your home, like empty cereal boxes that would otherwise go in the recycling bin, to create the shape of the vase. Then, using glue, add layers of used newspaper. Once dry, you can get creative with paint colors and patterns.
If you’ve got some nubs left in your crayon box, you can use them for a craft rather than throwing them away. No Time for Flashcards included the following instructions for creating a crayon candle using leftover writing utensils that are left around the house:
- Peel the paper off crayons and separate them by color shades; blues, yellows, reds, etc.
- Put the separated crayons in small cupcake liners
- Place them all in the oven – which should be set to 220 degrees – until melted
- Put a candle wick in an empty jar
- Pour each layer of melted crayon into the jar, giving each layer time to set before adding in the next color
- Keep adding all colors until everything is set
- Trim the excess wick
If you aren’t a fan of the scent of crayons, you might want to add some essential oils to the melted layers, so it creates a distinct scent when burning. Although it’s not going to last you as long as a branded candle, this craft will keep the kids entertained for hours and give you a great finished product. Best of all, if you use old crayons, you don’t have to feel bad about creating more waste!