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Recycling Resource: What Can You Make From a Cardboard Box?

Recycling is a great way to protect the planet and conserve resources. The Three R’s of protecting the environment are “reduce, reuse and recycle.” Reducing means to limit or only to use what is needed. A great way to reduce water waste is to turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth, or to take a shower instead of a bath. Reuse means to not throw away after just one use. Great things that can be reused are water bottles and plastic cups, just wash right after use and fill up again. Recycle means to take an old object and make it new again. Cans, glass bottles, newspaper and metals are just some of the materials that can be recycled. Leftover food, egg shells, leaves; even dog poop can be used for recycling in a compost heap. There are so many examples of how to use the three R’s, but here’s a great example.

Imagine a family with a bunch of kids in the middle of a big move to a new home. There would be toys, clothes and boxes everywhere. Once they move the toys and clothes have a place to go, but what to do with all of those boxes? Some families choose to throw them away, but every kid knows there are a ton of other options!

Not only should the boxes not be thrown away, because they are recyclable, but they should be used for fun. There are so many different ways to make a plain cardboard box into something recycled and exciting. From fun educational crafts to a creative project to an interesting activity, there are so many things to do with a cardboard box. Be sure to ask a parent’s permission and have a blast reducing, reusing and recycling!

Nature Rocks!

A cardboard box can be a great tool when creating a nature project. One fun example is a nature collage. On the next walk outside bring a plastic bag and pick up different colors of leaves, some big and some small. Try to find interesting twigs and rocks with a bunch of random shapes. If by a beach, pick up interesting shells and bits of seaweed. At home glue all the beautiful nature pieces onto the cardboard box in random places or in a pattern, with the date of the nature trail. It’s a great way to preserve a memory and enjoy the outside.

Another great nature option is to preserve a spider web. After making sure there is no spider in sight, spray a spider web with white or gold spray while holding the cardboard box behind it. Then, spray a black piece of cardboard paper with hair spray. Place the black paper behind the spider web and press up against the web. When pulling off, cut any extra web before spraying a top coat of protective varnish. Once dried, this beautiful and natural pattern will create a picture perfect as a present or to hang in a child's bedroom. 

Keep the Box?

There are so many creative options to decorate a cardboard box that it is not always necessary to cut or break down the shape. Keeping the cardboard box a box, kids can decorate them in any way they want. Using stickers, glitter, glue, markers and crayons, personalizing a box can be simple and a lot of fun. The box can be used as a home for books or toys. Using creatively decorated boxes is a great way to show individuality and creativity within organizational skills. Not only does it teach kids to clean up after themselves, it is a whole lot of fun to color and create a unique area.

  • U.S. Department of Education: Helping Your Child Become a Reader: A Home for My Books
  • State of Wisconsin: Healthy Start, Grow Smart: Questions Parents Ask: Busy Box
  • United States Department of Agriculture: 5 A Day the Preschool Way: 5 A Day Mystery Box/Bag/Can
  • Early Head Start National Resource Center: There’s No Place Like Home!: Cozy Area

Fun Activities!

Great activities can be made from a cardboard box- including a colorful puzzle. Kids can color a picture on the box and with parents help can cut out interesting shapes. This creates a simple puzzle for friends and family to try out. Another fun activity that can be done with a cardboard box is creating a homemade Halloween costume. A television set could be made by coloring the box gray, cutting out a square in the front and wearing it on top of a head. Kids can look like they’re on the television set! Traffic lights can also be done with a little more color, as could a popcorn bag.





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