Easy Recycled Art Projects Made For The Classroom

Kids love to do crafts, and they are a great way to incorporate art into our classroom. However, buying all the materials needed to complete art projects can be costly for teachers, especially since we often have a small amount of money given to us at the beginning of each year. Buying materials for art projects often gets pushed down the list quickly, behind essentials like pencils, scissors, glue, and notebooks. However, having a limited budget is not the end of the world! Today, I’d love to share with you some of my favorite recycled art projects.

art for kids using recycled materials

20 Easy Recycled Art Projects For Kids

Art lessons with recycled art aren’t just great for engaging and fun activities, but also for teaching students about the benefits of recycling. There are many ways to recycle, and using recycled materials to create art projects is a fun way to get students involved and excited about recycling and art. The recycled art projects on this list include beautiful and creative pieces made with cereal boxes, toilet paper rolls, plastic bottles, egg cartons, and more.

Toilet Paper Bird Feeder- The Resourceful Mama

Winter is always a great time to feed the birds. They are often looking for food, and there are so many fantastic bird feeders out there. You can also easily make a recycled bird feeder out of peanut butter, birdseed, string, and a toilet paper roll. This is an excellent item for you to hang right outside your window in the classroom so your students can observe the birds that visit your school!

Milk Carton Planters- The SITS Girls

If you are ever looking for a way to eliminate the waste created by the used milk cartons from your student’s lunches, this is a great recycled craft to help! What can you do with old milk cartons? Well, create beautiful planters out of them! You can have your students decorate each one to show their personality or decorate them to match a particular holiday like rabbits for Easter, or pumpkins for Halloween. Keep them in the classroom and watch them grow. Adding some vibrancy and color to your classroom may be just what your students need!

Paper Plate Rainbow- Inner Child Fun

Paper plates are often used at classroom parties, and you usually have a ton of leftover paper plates you do not need. Why not turn them into beautiful classroom decorations by making these paper plate rainbows? They are the perfect activity to include in colors or weather units. Plus, they are easy to make and quick. Everyone can get involved!

Egg Carton Flowers- M is for Mama

If you struggle to find the perfect craft for Mother’s Day, these egg carton flowers are perfect! You can add gems, pearls, glitter, and paint to make them stand out, and your students can easily create a bouquet or just a couple! They will look cute in the middle of a table or on a windowsill.

Paper Bag Scarecrow- Crafting Chicks 

If you do a search for ‘paper bag recycled craft’, you will certainly see lots of ideas for paper bag puppets. However, this craft is so much cuter and more unique! Make a 3D scarecrow head using a paper bag, construction paper, and paint. You and your students will be able to make the most incredible fall crafts! 

Cardboard Marble Run- frugal fun for boys and girls

Marble mazes are all the rage in classrooms, and they can provide hours of fun for kids. The best part is getting to use recycled cardboard and popsicle sticks to create your marble run. Your students will not only love creating the maze themselves, but running the marbles through and trying out all the different designs of their peers.

Egg Carton Tree- Glued To My Crafts

Earth Day is always a great time to teach your students about trees and flowers and how we need to protect our Earth for years to come. In my view, students are never too young to start learning about protecting ‘Mother Earth’.  Creating an egg carton tree is a great way to help teach the importance of trees. Giving your students a choice to make a fall tree or spring tree is also a great way to provide them with options, and to have some beautiful designs in the classroom. 

Water Bottle Fish- Reuse Grow Enjoy 

Water bottles are brought into school for lunch, PE, or even just to have in classroom. Why not figure out a cute craft to reuse them? There are so many fun projects with water bottles. These little fish are definitely the sweetest I have found! You only need an empty water bottle, paint, and googly eyes. I have also seen them made with tissue paper!

Button Photo Frame- Artsy Craftsy Mom

Class photos are always great keepsakes for kids, and you can easily turn them into a great recycled craft. Using buttons and other odds and ends, you can take cardboard or a store-bought wooden frame and let each student decorate their end-of-year gift! 

Newspaper Flowers- No Time For flash cards 

The Sunday paper is always full of great news stories, but it often finds its way straight into the trash once it has been read. Instead of throwing it away, bring it into the classroom from home and use it to create these beautiful newspaper flowers. Plus, you can also recycle some buttons while you are at it. Win-win!

Styrofoam String Art- Buggy and Buddy

Turn the styrofoam blocks from your packages into beautiful string art! Using only three materials – styrofoam, string, and toothpicks – this art project is great for older students. They can show off their knowledge of shapes and art to create beautiful spring art designs! 

Tissue Paper Stained Glass Hearts- Art with Mrs. Nguyen

If you’re anything like me, you always have tissue paper lying around. How about reusing it and having your students make Valentine’s Day window decorations for the classroom?

Recycled Letter Collages- Early Learning Ideas

If, like me, you teach early education like preschool or kindergarten, you will be dealing with the teaching of the alphabet. There are so many fun ways to use recycled materials to create a letter collage for each alphabet letter. You can use cut-up straws to fill the letter S, or puzzle pieces from puzzles for the letter P. These collages are created and help teach the letter and words that start with the letter. They also help kids practice fine motor skills! 

You can use recycled materials to make a ton of fantastic art projects. However, you can also use recycled materials to help younger and older students create wonderful art. The projects below use recycled materials to help complete the project, but are not in the finished product. 

Straw Fireworks- Crafty Morning

Make fireworks appear on paper with a bundle of bendy straws and paint. This easy recycled art activity is a favorite and is quick and straightforward. Dip the bundle of bent straws into different color paint to create a light show right on the paper. Are you looking for more of a springtime craft? Turn the fireworks into flowers! 

Toilet Paper or Paper Towel Roll Easter Eggs- House of Burke

Create a colorful picture full of Easter eggs using a toilet paper roll and paint. Students can stamp different colored eggs onto their paper using the end of the roll, and in doing so, will create a beautiful spring masterpiece. 

Bubble Wrap Turkey- Crafty Morning

This bubble wrap turkey’s perfect Thanksgiving craft uses painted bubble wrap to create colorful feathers. You may not know that bubble wrap can make cool designs and exciting, eye-catching art until you try it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Wine Cork Apples- Crafty Morning

Wine Corks are another recyclable material that can help create the cutest little art projects. You can use them to create apples, cherries, turtles, sheep, and more. Crafty Morning has over ten different designs and ideas you can create using just paint and wine corks!

wine corks

Egg Carton Paint Tray- Instructables Craft

The perfect painting buddy! This egg carton paint tray lets your students have their own place to keep their supplies, and they can easily close up the top and come back and use the paint later in the day if they do not finish their project! 

Bottle Cap Painted Snowman- iHeartCraftyThings

These bottle cap snowmen are a great activity during the winter months and can be a great addition to any classroom. Each student can create a unique snowman with a scarf, a hat, and really whatever their heart desires. Using bottle caps to create the bodies also makes for perfect circular parts! 

Fun and Easy Crafting with Recycled Materials- Kimberly McLeod

Having a recycled materials center for students is always a fun way to get them thinking more creatively. Providing them with recycled craft books to read and some water bottles, egg cartons, construction paper, etc., will allow your students to think of ideas on their own and to have a lot of fun! Plus, your students will also be practicing their reading and following direction skills. Another win-win in my book! 

Recycled Art Projects in The Classroom

These recycled art activities are great for all ages and, most importantly, will allow you to reuse materials that would typically find their way into the trash. Mother Earth will thank you, and them!

If you are looking for some fantastic resources to bring into your classroom, don’t forget to sign up for my free resource library!


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