DIY kids crafts from junk!

When the kids are looking for something to do, you just want to keep them busy. Why not hold on to some of the ‘junk’ you were planning to throw away and use it to bond with the family?

If you have old clothes, books, and furniture that ‘needs to go’, consider keeping a few of these items to give them a new purpose and create something with the kids:

Sock puppets


Don’t throw out those old clothes! Put together a ‘tickle trunk’ or a suitcase filled with old fun clothes for the kids to play dress-up. Old, clean socks are great for making puppets. Once you sew a mouth on the sock (see link for instructions), let the kids decorate with yarn hair, googly eyes and felt pens!

Here are the steps:

Furniture collages


Does their bedroom or playroom need a pick-me-up? Pages from old magazines or kids’ books can be glued on the outside of a lampshade to give it a funky facelift. A coat of Mod Podge (or a glue-water mix) to seal the outside should finish this project nicely! You could also try this with a tabletop, or even cereal bowls and placemats. For a surface that doesn’t need to be waterproof, consider adding other fun decorations like those old ribbons you might have been saving from their last birthday!

Here are the steps:

Tin can wind chimes


Wash tin cans, tape the edges (they can be sharp), and let the kids use washable tempera paint and glitter to decorate. String up and enjoy!

Here are the steps:

If the kids are getting tired from all the crafting excitement, here are some easy and fun pieces you can make for them!:

Preschool age: Water wall


If you have a deck railing or ground-floor balcony, use zip ties to affix milk cartons (with holes in the bottom) and light pipes to create a water playground–kids can pour water in the objects and see how it behaves and where it flows. Get creative using the ideas on the website below.

Here are the steps:

Elementary school age: Glowing firefly jars


When you don’t want fireflies in the house, try this simple project. Wash a mason jar, paint the inside with little dots of glow-in-the-dark paint, hold up to a light for a minute, then leave on the bedside table or dresser for a firefly lamp! (Don’t forget, it needs to be ‘recharged’ every night)

Here are the steps:

Preteen age: Toilet paper roll speakers


Do they love listening to music on their iPhone/iPod but don’t want to use headphones or expensive speakers? Cut a hole in a toilet paper roll, stick the device inside, and voila—cheap amplification!

Here are the steps:

Any age: Tornado in a bottle


Not only is this fun to play with and hypnotizing to watch, but it’s a science experiment where they get to create a water vortex! Fill an empty, plastic soda bottle with some water, duct tape another one on top of it, and swirl to start the vortex.

Here are the steps:

Bonus: Don’t throw out old books—turn them into a lamp!


Here are the steps:

Have you tried any of these crafts? What other ideas have you come up with to keep junk out of the landfill? Let us know in the comments below!

Sam Landa edits the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? blog and is Content Manager and social media manager at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Environment & Sustainability, and in her spare time, she enjoys playing live music and writing. Connect with Sam on  or LinkedIn.

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