Posts Tagged ‘green craft projects’

Pasta Dye

October 1, 2008

A box of macaroni is both inexpensive and biodegradable.  I know it’s a little wasteful to use food for art, but I vowed that we’d donate few boxes of pasta to a local food shelf for every box we use for fun.  It’s a great way to remind your kids that there are people who don’t have the luxury of playing with their food. 

With a little food coloring, pasta and water, you can dye pasta for making necklaces, gluing onto paper, layering into old jars or anything else you can think of.  I simply warmed some water in the microwave, poured it in bowls, had the kids add a few drops of food coloring and voila- pasta dye!  The water should be pretty warm, but not burning hot for obvious reasons.

We then added pasta to the bowls, stirred it and let it sit for half an hour or so.   I poured the dye out of the bowls and let my kids scoop the pasta onto a paper towel-covered cookie sheet to drain.  Later, I put it on another cookie sheet minus the paper towels to dry.  The pasta was sort of sticky and didn’t dry well overnight, so I put it in the oven the next day at around 300 degrees until it felt dry.  You could bake it right away, I think.

I made a little scientific discovery of my own and found that if you leave it in the oven too long, it gets a little brown.  Shocking!  You may like the toasted effect.  It is a little more natural looking but makes the blue hard to distinguish from the green.  Next time, I’ll set a timer!

I was amazed by how much fun my children had just adding food coloring to water and dumping some pasta in.  They checked the pasta every few minutes to see how it was changing.  There’s a fine line here between science and art.  If they love to be scientists, have them check the pasta every five minutes and record what is happening.  Let them try it with cold water to see whether it works as well.  Ask them if they can think of anything else to try.  Get those science notebook out and let them illustrate the project!

note: Two child educators have told me that if you use rubbing alchohol instead of water to dye the pasta that it will air-dry! (no oven required or recommended.)  This would be a great thing to try for older kids.  For younger children, I’d stick to water, since it’s not toxic.

Cork Creations

September 19, 2008


When I was young, I started saving corks from my parents’ wine bottles. Fortunately, this didn’t mean I had a future as a wino.  I must have been planning to build a raft with them or something.  I can’t remember. 


It’s still hard for me to throw corks away and  I have a bag full of them in my basement.  However, since  I’m no Martha Stewart, who’s blog link you can find at the bottom of this page, I never made a raft, bulletin board, or trivets out of them.  Instead, I decided to figure out something simple my kids could do with them. This project involves a little crafting and a little science or engineering, depending on what your children decide to make.


My kids loved it!


supplies for cork creatures:

corks (real ones, not plastic)

toothpicks (the colored “party pics” work well, since they are round on both ends)

wooden skewers (if you want to make puppets)

buttons, markers, paper, string , plastic eyes, paint, feathers, band aids, etc.



Remember, young children may need help with the sharp toothpicks.  I would definitely recommend supervising older children too. 


Let your kids design animals, bugs, cars, robots, and anything else they can think of with the corks and toothpicks.  My 6-year old discovered that you can make puppets with them if you put them atop skewers.  She also made a stable for her horse from the corks and toothpicks and a saddle using a band-aid!



I LOVE to see what they come up with on their own!



Very young children will probably be happy coloring and gluing things on the corks and no toothpicks need be involved.  You can cut off any exposed sharp ends with scissors.  It also helps to tell older kids to twist the toothpicks a little as they push them into the corks.


This project is a also a good way for kids to practice problem solving.  The legs and heads have to be correctly positioned if they want their creatures to stand.  They may need a little assistance, but let them try!    
Go crazy!
By the way, check out Martha Stewart’s blog at !

Crayon Stained Glass

September 15, 2008

 What do you get when you add old crayons to waxed paper? 

You get beautiful stained  “glass”, of course!

This project is yet another of my childhood memories.  I probably did it in Sunday school when I was very young.  I have to admit that it took two attempts to get the results  I was hoping for.  Hopefully, you won’t have any trouble. Waxed paper (like Waxtex) works much better than parchment paper!

Your kids will love it!  The caveat is that it is a little messy, so be mentally prepared, or just do it outside like I did. 


  • crayons
  • scissors
  • glue
  • waxed paper (not parchment paper)
  • aluminum foil
  • construction paper
  • iron
  • old dishtowel or thin rag (to protect your iron)

Cut the waxed paper into sheets about the same size as the construction paper (letter-sized).  You’ll need two pieces of waxed paper for each “window”.

Peel the paper off your old crayons and use the edge of your scissors to shave peelings off of the crayons into several small containers or piles.  I found that some crayons work better than others.  If a crayon is giving you trouble, kick it to the curb and try another one!  The big crayons work really well.  Older children will be able to do this themselves, but I just did it for my kids.

Have your child put a line of glue around the edge of one of the pieces of waxed paper.  Then, let them sprinkle crayon shavings onto the paper, inside the glue line.  When they’re finished, help them place the other piece of waxed paper on top so the crayon shavings are sealed inside.  From this point on, it becomes less messy.

Set your iron on low.  Put the waxed paper between two sheets of foil. (The crayon will leak through the paper.)  Maybe this is bad, but I just ironed right on my kitchen counter with the foil, the “window”, more foil, and finally the dishtowel on top.  The warm iron will melt the wax between the sheets of paper into pretty patterns.  Keep checking as you do it.  It may take a few attempts to get it to work well!  If the crayon isn’t melting, just turn your iron up a little!

We then made frames by putting two pieces of construction paper together, folding them in half, cutting a rectangle from the middle, and gluing our artwork into the resulting frame! 

Have fun cleaning up crayon shavings!

Magazine Beads

September 8, 2008

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 we had lots of fun making them.

I love the idea of recycling things that your kids could make 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?

A useful thing to do is to create a 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 may normally throw away.

One childhood project that I remember, and recently re-created with my kids (2, 6 and 8 years old), is making magazine beads. My older children loved it and my two 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. You can let your children use the beads to make pretty 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 are often much more interesting than perfect ones!