21 of the Best Recycled Art Projects For kids {that even toddlers can do!}

It is true, I love art and I love art using things we have at home. For this reason, I went on a mission to find 21 recycled art projects for toddlers we could do at home with stuff we can find in the recycling bin.

I made sure the curated list had the following criterias:

  • It had elements found at home (mostly from the recycling bin)
  • It could be done by even the most non-crafty mom (like my best friend and sister)
  • The end product was cute, worthy of hanging for display or even use for playtime

So if this sounds like something you want to do, let’s get you inspired with these Recycled Art Projects For Toddlers

21 of the best Recycled Art Projects For kids

Suggested Materials for Recycled Art Projects For kids

There are basic supplies one needs to make art at homes such as paint, glue, and paintbrushes so if you need recommendations, here are some recommendations you can add to your Amazon cart.

Recycled Art Projects using Toilet Paper Rolls

1. Shakers

Shake your sillies out with DIY shakers. This activity can be done in two steps with your little learners.

Step 1: Collect a few toilet paper rolls and paint them using your art supplies like your favorite paint, stickers, or markers.

Step 2: Collect, rice, beans, dried pasta, bells and set aside.

Step 3: Close one end of the toilet paper roll. this can be done with parchment paper, aluminum paper, or even stapling the ends.

Step 4: Work on some fine motor skills and allow your toddler to pour about 2 tables spoons of your dried material into each tube.

Step 5: Close the ends the same you did on step 3, add some silly songs and shake shake shake shake your sillies out!

2. Practice Scissors Skills Giving out haircuts

Scissor skills is a pre-k readiness activity that we should be doing at home around 2 years old. You can cut cooked colored pasta or leaves, but when that gets too easy, giving these little faces a haircut is the perfect activity. The toilet paper is harder than the pasta or the leaves giving a challenge and allowing for the hands to strengthen those muscles. It also works on cutting using the proper position as most toddlers will tend to twist the scissors.

3. Create a bird feeder


This is by far my favorite activity! it’s an activity that works on fine motor skills, it is good for the environment, it is awesome to watch the birds come to eat it the seeds and it is an activity that toddlers can almost do by themselves. Depending on how little your little learner is, he might need help spreading the peanut butter onto the paper roll, but rolling the seeds onto the tube is totally a skill they can do independently. Then you can even go together for a walk and choose the perfect tree and branch to place it. Wait and watch the birds come to eat.

4. Toilet Paper Puppets

Rhymes, songs and finger play are all great activities to develop language skills. One way to keep your little one engage is through puppets. Yes, you can buy these but they can get pricey, so why don’t you make a few yourself? of course, I know what you are thinking, “I’m not too crafty, this sounds complicated” but it is not.

Recycled Art Projects For kids

You can print out this animal clipart, color it and glue it onto the toilet paper rolls. Use in on sensory bins or to sing my favorite song “Slippery Fish” and act out the song.

You can go simple by just painting the roll, adding some google eyes and using construction paper to create the wings and make a butterfly.

5. Fire Breathing Dragon

Ok, this one the little ones might need help creating but I didn’t want to leave it out. Blowing is a skill that takes time to be worked on and this is a perfect craft to do to practice that. They can see how the paper string move as they blow! it is the coolest use for toilet paper tubes!

6. DIY Binoculars

A craft that can be also a toy is definitely on my win-win list. Take two toilet paper rolls and glue them together. Use a hot glue gun, a rubber band or even paper to get them to stay tight next to each other. Use a hole punch to create a hole on each side and tie yarn or rope around it to create the holder. What about decoration? you can paint them, use markers, covered them in craft or construction paper and you can’t fail at making this!

Recycled Art Projects using containers

7. Bird feeder

For a no-peanut butter option, the easiest project would be a bird feeder house. I would probably add some color first using paint, and letting my toddler be creative. Cut an opening onto the milk carton or juice bottle and have your toddler grab hand fulls of seeds and fill up the house. They can practice transferring using a measuring cup or spoon.

8. Piggy Bank

Using a soda bottle or even a laundry container you can make a piggy bank. Just cut open a slit at the top to insert the coins and decorate. You can give the bottle to your toddler and paint it all pink, or you can leave it clear to see the coins inside as they collect them. To be successful with this activity all you need is two google eyes and use a market to mark the nose. Use for lids from other bottles for the legs! Everything else is extra for cuteness purposes.

9. Flower Prints

Just a little bit of paint and a soda bottle and you got yourself the cutest set up for a spring flower craft of even a mother’s day craft. I love the size of the soda bottle because is like one big paintbrush your little one will be able to grab, dip and stamp. The trick for success is to minimize the number of colors that you offer because you know they will double-dip. Too many colors and it will turn into muddy brown, so it is best to stick to two colors that match. Even complementary colors that when mix together create a new one.

10. Wiggly Snake

How fun is this snake! you can use paper to wrap the yogurt containers around or you can paint them. I think making a rainbow-colored snake would be cool! I think the paint would be an easier craft for the little ones and then you can help out threading the yarn across all of the yogurt containers. It makes for the best toy to drag around the neighborhood!

Recycled Art Projects Using egg cartons

11. Make Pretty Flowers

Painting on different textures, like a rough egg carton is a great sensory activity for little learners. It’s always tricky to find a craft for mother’s day that a young toddler can actually do. These flowers are not just pretty but are also very easy for toddlers to participate in doing.

12. Very Hungry Caterpillar

One of my favorite books and a classic one is The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It is a great book to read in Spring and if you have been to one of my sensory classes, I always love to follow a book with a craft. This caterpillar is a great fine motor activity and painting experience for little learners. You might need to assist them in adding the antlers and the googley eyes (depending on how little the eyes you get) either way, is a great toy they will be able to use and recreate the book. This activity is a very good start to start developing imagination.

13. Butterfly Garland

Who knew that egg cartons could be so much fun! Using only two or three complementary colors and your toddler can create a garden theme garland. This one specific is made with butterflies, but how cool would it be if you could mix it up with the flowers we learned above? super cute!

14. Scenery or Diorama

When I hosted a live class with Stephanie from at Crafted by me Art we focused on all types of art using recycled materials. She shared with us this simple project that you can hang and display. They are little small worlds using recycled materials and a toy or two. She is always sharing her good ideas so be sure to check her out!

Recycled Art Projects Using Bubble Wrap

15. Funny Feet

What about bubble wrap is that for art, it makes a really cool imprint when you use it. Wrap it around their feet like shoes and now, they are no longer using their hands to paint but their feet. And anything that is out of the ordinary is fun!

16. Bubbly Snake Recycled Art Projects For kids

Using a paper plate, some google eyes and red construction paper, even the most non-crafty mom can do this snake. Wrap bubble wrap around a rolling pin and allow your toddler to dip it in the pain and roll it over a plain white paper plate. When done, just cut a spiral from the outside in, leaving the center large enough for the head.

17. Butterfly Suncatcher

Bubble wrap is not just for painting. It can be the base of your project like how these butterflies were made. Bubble wrap is translucent and so is the tissue paper, making them a perfect combination for a suncatcher. The possibilities are endless, you don’t just have to make a butterfly, you and your toddler can make fruits, or shapes, or even abstract!

Recycled art projects using cardboard boxes

18. Create a mailbox


Great for pretend play and fine motor skill practice! Kids that like to do pretend to play will love this posting activity as well as little ones that are still working on their eye-hand coordination skills. You don’t need to get fancy and paint it and make it a whole project, but instead, all you need is a rectangle opening to insert the mail. You can use old greeting cards, or advertisement that comes in the mail for this activity.

19. Zoo Animals

ok before you say anything I get why this could look hard or overwhelming but trust me. Just look at the elephant. One color is all you need. And you won’t be needing any thinking or creative skills to do this as there is a downloadable template you can use. All you need is to print the animal you want to do, cut the template, trace it onto the cardboard and give the pieces to your toddler to paint over. Then when try, connect them together and ta-dah! you got yourself a zoo!

20. Bean Hearts

Ok, so making this with a toddler won’t look as perfect as this photo because honestly, who has time to align every single bean like that? but, you can create shapes with cardboard and color the beans ahead of time. (Use the same recipe as colored rice). Give your toddler school glue to place over the cardboard and place the bins (or I think my son would probably dump them in) and press to make sure the whole shape is covered. You can let it dry and thread some yarn to create a shape mobile. If you make the hearts, it could be a super cute mother’s day or Valentine’s day craft.

Recycled Art Projects Using Random House Items

21. Flower Petals Wind Chime

Out of all the crafts, this one I think is one of my favorites! it no only looks pretty but I have been looking for a DIY Chime to do with my son and haven’t found one until now. Take a walk (activity #1) and collect flowers, leaves and other colorful petals (activity #2), then go home and trace a circle the size of the mason jar lid onto sticky paper.

Have your toddler place the petals onto the sticky paper (preferably inside the circles). When done, place another layer of contact paper over it to seal it. Make sure you press hard and remove any bubbles (scraping from the center to the outside). Place the circle inside the mason jar and poke a hole to tie a string. Repeat multiple times with each chime and hand them at different heights. Place them on a tree or on the porch and enjoy how the sun seeps through and the wind makes a pretty tune.

Tips for Success

Creating art with little ones is all about the process. It is about exploring different materials and getting exposed to different textures. It is about letting their creativity grow and allowing them the gift of creating.

  • Always display the art created in a visible place they can see it and can be proud of. Place it at their eye level so is easier for them to see.
  • Never force an activity, but offer it often and create invitations to play allowing them to be drawn towards it.
  • Don’t expect perfection and don’t expect the craft to look exactly like the photos. Allow for creativity to flourish.
  • Join in and enjoy, making art with your little learner is a bonding experience.
  • Only pour out as much as you want to clean out, so always start with little paint to control the environment

after all, have fun!

Liked this list of Recycled Art Projects For kids? then you will love: 11 DIY Toys Toddlers will LOVE!

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