Before the days of plastic, foamy, pre-cut, pre-designed craft projects, there were the 70s, when I was a kid. We made paper-maché piñatas, twine macramé plant-holders and did lots of art projects using objects from nature or things that we had around the house. They weren’t always beautiful, but it was lots of fun making them.
I love the idea of recycling things into art, for both environmental and financial reasons. Who hasn’t walked into a craft store and spent a ridiculous amount of money on a bunch of things that will never break down in a landfill?
If you haven’t already, you should create a “junk box” for your child to fill with things that have potential to become great art projects. Find a container that you already have around the house and you and your child can fill it with colorful magazines, old buttons and crayons, corks, bottle caps, ribbons, Popsicle sticks, wrapping paper and cloth scraps, cardboard jewelry boxes or pretty bottles-anything that you or your child see potential in. Try to see the possibilities in the things you normally throw away.
One childhood project that I remember, and re-created with my kids (4, 7 and 9years old), is making magazine beads. My older children loved it and my four year old had a great time just squeezing glue onto the newspaper we were working on. All you’ll need are scissors, cardboard (optional), magazines, glue and pencils, straws or wooden skewers.
First, cut out a cardboard template in the shape of a long triangle about one inch wide at the bottom and about 8 to 11 inches long. Use the template to trace triangles on colorful magazine pages or old wrapping paper. Have your child cut the triangles out, or help them do it. (You can also just guess and free-hand the triangles, which is what I did.) Use a glue stick to put glue on the back of the triangle, but try to leave the bottom inch or so of the wide base of the triangle glue-free. Then, have your child wrap the paper tightly, starting with the base, around some sort of stick (we used pens, straws, pencils and wooden skewers with the sharp ends broken off.) You may have to glue the tip of the triangle down when you’re done. Finally, just slide the “bead” off of the stick and you are done!
Older children will do fine with skewers, but younger ones may be more successful with pens or pencils. Your child can use the beads to make garlands, necklaces, bracelets, or ever glue them tightly side-by-side to an old picture frame to make it new!
Just remember, it’s the process that’s important, not perfection. Remind your child that imperfect things much more interesting than perfect ones!
New spring projects on the way soon! Keep posted!