Easy DIY upcycling projects for kids that use paper rolls, paper plates, milk cartons, CDs and cardboard boxes. These recycled crafts and activities will help kids turn trash into treasure.
Upcycling With Kids
Upcycling gives a new life to everyday items while providing fun activities for kids.
Engaging children in DIY upcycling crafts not only sparks their imagination but also instills an early appreciation for sustainability.
From transforming toilet paper rolls into whimsical creatures to giving cardboard boxes a second life as car washes or airports, these projects encourage kids to see the potential in what others might simply throw away.
Upcycling is a hands-on approach to reducing waste and it teaches kids the value of resourcefulness while they create and play.
Why make these DIY upcycling projects for kids?
Inspire Creativity: Transforming ordinary household items into art teaches children to think creatively.
Eco-Friendly Fun: Upcycling projects are enjoyable ways to learn about environmental sustainability and responsibility.
Resourceful Play: Through DIY upcycling crafts, kids develop a sense of resourcefulness by valuing what is readily available.
Upcycling Toilet Paper Rolls
Instead of tossing used toilet paper rolls into the recycling bin, you have the power to turn them into easy crafts for kids.
With just a little imagination and some basic craft supplies, those simple cardboard tubes can be transformed into animals, toy car garages and more, waiting for new adventures.
Engaging in these upcycling activities nurtures creativity and teaches valuable lessons on sustainability.
So, gather up those paper rolls and let’s make some fun crafts!
Paper roll mushroom craft – Create a whimsical mushroom craft using paper roll, paper bowl and felt or paper for the grass. Use them for a fairy pretend play.
Paper roll bee craft – A simple project that allows kids to transform a paper roll into a cute and buzzing bee. This is a great spring or summer craft idea for preschoolers.
Four season tree craft – This tree craft combines paper rolls and cotton balls into a fun craft to help kids notice the seasonal changes. It is a craft idea to practice fine motor skills and get creative with paint.
Four season paper roll trees – Another four season tree craft that uses only paper rolls and paper but manages to create a fun 3D effect.
Paper roll Valentine mice – With their heart ears and noses, these Valentine mice look absolutely adorable. They are so easy to create and are a perfect Valentine’s Day classroom craft to make with preschoolers and elementary kids.
Heart robot craft – Another cute and simple paper roll heart craft to make for Valentine’s Day with kids.
Paper roll flower art – Turn a paper roll into a painting tool and paint beautiful flowers. Use decorative edge scissors for the grass.
Paper roll giraffe craft – Use a combination of towel paper rolls and toilet paper rolls to make a family of giraffes.
Paper roll zebra craft – With their black and white stripes, zebras are very easy to make. Perfect for preschoolers, this craft will be a daycare hit.
Paper roll panda – Who doesn’t love pandas? This panda family craft is a must if your kids love animals or enjoy visiting the zoo.
3D Heart flowers – Make these 3D flower bouquets for Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day or grandma’s birthday.
Paper roll Mother’s Day craft – Celebrate mom on Mother’s Day or her birthday with a fun paper roll craft. You can add personalize the paper roll and add elements that will make the paper roll version resemble mom.
Father’s Day paper roll craft – Here is the paper roll craft option to celebrate dad and grandpa.
Apple core paper roll craft – This paper roll apple core craft is a simple paint and glue craft and a great opportunity to look at the inside of an apple and talk about the leaves, skin, stem, seeds, and core of an apple with toddlers and preschoolers.
Paper roll knitting – With the help of a paper roll loom kids can knit friendship bracelets, doll scarves and yarn snakes.
Paper roll butterfly craft – Offer a variety of supplies and let kids decorate the butterfly’s wings as they like best.
Fire breathing dragon craft – A simple interactive craft that kids can play with once they are done creating. How fun!
DIY toy car garage – If you have boys you probably have a lot of toy cars around the house. This paper roll car garage isn’t only a fun way for kids to play, but it’s also a smart car storage.
Gnome home – Imagine a whole village made up of these adorable fairy houses!
Upcycling Cardboard Boxes
With online shopping become more and more common these days, we have to deal with a lot of cardboard boxes that normally would go straight into the recycling bin.
Instead, consider transforming them into treasures with a sprinkle of creativity and some glue.
Kids can turn them into anything from cardboard easels to help them during the painting process to colorful car washes for summer play.
You can also cut pieces out of those cardboard boxes to help you create beautiful flowers or woven llamas.
Cardboard airport – If your family likes traveling, this will be a great addition to your kid’s airport play pretend.
Cardboard road – Such a fun road for the hot wheel cars.
DIY cardboard car wash – With just a cardboard box and felt, make a fun and colorful car wash. You can add bubble wrap to the inside.
Woven wool flowers – Made with cardboard and yarn , these flowers will brighten everyone’s day.
Penny spinners – Personalize these STEM toys with your own design and colors.
Cereal box aquarium – Made from a cereal box, this aquarium is nicely decorated with small rocks, shells and kinetic sand.
Woven cardboard llama – There is something about llamas that makes them look special and this craft is absolutely adorable.
DIY cardboard easel – This is such a clever idea for kids who enjoy painting.
Cardboard marble maze game – With its beautiful design and colors, this marble maze game will certainly put anyone in a good mood.
Cardboard butterfly wings – Preschoolers will be excited to paint their own butterfly wings and run around with them.
Woven house – This is an art project you can make in the classroom with your elementary school-aged kids or at home.
Cardboard coral reef – I love how colorful this art project is!
Deep sea fish – Another colorful and sea life related craft made with cardboard and paint.
Upcycling Paper Plates
Upcycling paper plates is not just a creative way for kids to spend their time; it’s also a brilliant way to repurpose something that usually ends up in the garbage.
With a little paint and some imagination, those plain white circles can be easily transformed into animals, boats and even unicorns.
Each project encourages kids to see potential in everyday items while crafting something they can be proud of.
Paper plate unicorns – Use the free template to make these cute unicorns with just paper plate, yarn and paint.
Paper plate cloud craft – Make this cute craft on a rainy day in spring or fall.
Flying bat craft – Make this fun interactive craft with kids when you want to teach them about bats or around Halloween.
Apple basket craft – Use the free printable for this paper plate apple basket craft for kids. Great fall craft but you can actually make it anytime of the year.
Paper plate sunflower craft – Such a simple daycare flower craft idea for kids.
Paper plate camping craft – An amazing craft for the kids who love the outdoors and enjoy going camping with their family.
Paper plate ocean craft – An easy sewing craft to celebrate the ocean animals.
Day and night craft – This day and night craft is an interactive craft that kids will love to play with as well as an educational craft.
Paper plate garden craft – If your family enjoys gardening or you want to encourage your picky eater to eat more vegetables, try this paper plate veggie garden craft today.
Carrot garden craft – This is a variation of the above garden craft, with just carrots.
Paper plate penguin – Make this penguin for an Arctic animal study unit during a winter day.
Santa’s beard – A great Christmas sewing project for kids and a fun craft to display in the classroom or at home.
Paper plate apple – Have you ever tried paper plate yarn weaving? This can be such a fun craft for kids!
Batman paper plate craft – An interactive Batman craft for kids who are into superheroes.
Rocking pirate boat – An easy interactive craft with free printable.
Paper plate boat craft – Another boat craft made with two paper plates and yarn.
Paper plate jellyfish – Make these jellyfish to learn about the ocean animals or just for fun.
Bee paper plate craft – A simple insect craft for preschoolers. You can also add wings.
Bunny paper plate craft – If you like paper plate animals and cute bunny crafts, this paper plate bunny craft is perfect to make with kids for Easter or any spring day.
Upcycling Old CDs
CDs aren’t as popular as they used to be a few year ago. Nowadays, they often end up unused, gathering dust.
Why not give them a new life by transforming them into magical crafts?
Children can get creative by turning these shiny discs into glittering lions, colorful peacocks, or even doughnuts.
Not only do these projects help reduce waste, but they also spark a love for art in young minds.
So grab those old CDs, some craft supplies, and let’s breathe new energy into what was once the soundtrack of our lives.
Doughnut craft – A CD has the perfect shape to be turned into a doughnut with homemade puffy paint frosting.
CD lions – I like that there are two versions of this lion craft.
CD Hippo – Use the free printable to make this cute CD hippo for kids to teach the alphabet or about the animals in Africa.
Dream catcher CDs – A colorful weaving craft that uses a CD in a creative way.
CD peacock craft – This craft combines recycling a CD and handprints to make a colorful and beautiful peacock.
Button and CD turtle – Learn how to make this super easy recycle CD craft using the free printable template.
Recycled CD owl craft – You can pair this colorful craft with a book about owls or other birds.
Upcycled CD and ribbon jellyfish – Perfect for home, school or daycare, this jellyfish craft is easy to make.
CD snails – All the painting, sticking, threading and weaving involved in making these snails will help kids with fine motor skills.
Upcycling Milk or Juice Cartons
Transform a milk or juice carton into a delightful craft with your kids.
Cut, paint, and decorate to repurpose these everyday containers into bird feeders, beautiful desk organizers, or even a rainbow town.
This activity not only spurs creativity but also instills valuable lessons about sustainability and resourcefulness.
Grab those empty cartons and ready your art supplies for an upcycling adventure that will entertain and educate.
Owl bird feeder – You can make this bird feeder any season and hang it in your backyard.
Milk carton desk organizers – Turn a few milk cartons into fun animals and use them as desk organizers.
Water well – How clever to turn a milk or juice carton into an interactive water well craft?
Milk carton houses – With just paint and a black marker you can turn milk cartons into beautiful houses.
Recycled town – This fantastic rainbow town uses a variety of recycled materials: juice cartons, cereal boxes, cardboard tubes and more.
I hope you love these DIY upcycling projects for kids and will find this list inspirational.