Have you ever noticed that no matter how many toys your kids have, they are always drawn to things like cardboard boxes and paper towel rolls? It seems that a simple box will usually entertain them longer and promote more creativity than the fanciest of store bought toys.
Rather than fight this phenomenon, just embrace it and marvel and what natural upcyclers your kids are.
Furthermore, encourage even more of this open-ended creative play by gathering those materials they like so much and creating an upcycled building box with prompt cards to get their creative juices flowing.
To make your own upcycled building box, start digging through your recycling bin for materials. Cereal boxes, egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, berry baskets and packaging materials are some of my favorites. Once you have a nice selection of materials, put them into a box or crate so that they are ready to be used.
I continually save anything that has good building potential in our inventors box so we will always have a good selection for projects we are working on.
Next, download the Idea Starter Cards and cut them out. Each prompt invites your child to invent something… a machine to clean their room, their ideal pet, or even a rocket ship to take them to the moon.
You can either let your child pick whichever prompt interests them or draw one from a stack. I usually let my daughter read all of the options and choose which she wants to build.
The only other materials needed are kid-safe scissors and a roll of masking tape.
Now it is time to build! Explain to your children that they can use anything from the building box to make their invention. Encourage them to use the materials creatively, and make sure they know that there is no right or wrong way of doing things.
After hours and hours of working on her creation, my little one unveiled the girly robot (wearing plenty of bows and jewelry) that will be cleaning her room from now on. My favorite part is the to do list that she wrote up for the robot and attached to her purse to make sure she did everything she was supposed to. Now that is a girl after my own heart!
Here are just a few of the reasons why I love this activity so much:
- It is absolutely free and doesn’t require a trip to the store to buy anything.
- My daughter loves it and can easily spend 2 to 3 hours at a time, uninterrupted, working on her latest creation (which means I have time to cook dinner!)
- The amount of thought and creativity that goes into each invention is amazing. It really teaches kids to “think outside the box”.
- It saves so many things from the trash can or recycling bin.
It is never too early to start teaching your children to be more eco conscious, and this is a perfect opportunity to talk to them about reducing waste, recycling and upcycling.
For More Earth-Friendly Kid Activities, Check Out:
- DIY Plantable Paper Earths
- Kitchen Science: Growing from Food Scraps with Kids
- Veggie Garden Sensory Bin (with free vegetable marker printables)
- Natural Play Spaces: Children’s Veggie Gardens
- Make Like a Montessori Mama Series: Part 2 – Plant Activities
- Mason Jar Yarn Vases
P.S. Looking for more ways to simplify and save time? Follow these 3 steps:
1) Check out our Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life 2016 Printables and our Kids' Responsibility & Money Management Kit : over 50 pages of 2015 daily/weekly/monthly planners, cleaning schedules, meal planners, kids’ routine charts, budgeting sheets and much more!
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