Upcycling is the use of recyclable materials to create something different. For instance, those old toilet rolls you were thinking of putting in the recycle bin can be used for making fantastical creations such as space ships and motorcars. In truth, upcycling is a process that most parents have been involved with naturally for years.
In recent times, however, it’s become an important way for us to teach our kids about the value of reusing household items while getting some fun out of different projects. Get into the habit of having a box full of castoffs of all types and you’ll soon have enough material to try out these interesting upcycling projects:
Papier Mache Masks
Newspapers, old notes, magazines and the like can all be saved up to create interesting masks for the kids. All you need is a balloon, some strips of newspaper and some Papier Mache glue to start off with. Blow up the balloon to roughly the size of your child’s face and start laying the glue soaked paper strips to completely cover it. Once dry you can pop the balloon and carefully cut the ball in half and cut out the eye and mouth holes. The next job is to design and paint the two masks you’ve created in bright colours.
Papier Mache can be used for creating all sorts of exciting objects – all you need is the right frame underneath on which to lay the paper. An alternative would be to create a doll or even a spaceship out of wire (an old wire coat hanger is great material to use for this) and then cover that with the glue soaked paper. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, have a go at making your own piñata. Simply follow the same technique with the wire frame to a shape and design of your choice, cover ¾ of the item in glue soaked paper and leave to dry, once dry add your goodies, before finishing the paper coverage and leaving to dry. Et voila your own personalised piñata. For some more ideas, take a look at these 30 crafty paper mache projects.
Creating Rockets and Cars
Don’t confine yourself to just Papier Mache if you want to create some wonderful objects. There are plenty of different things around the home that you can use to upcycle into a range of robots, rockets, castles and cars. Toilet rolls are absolutely fabulous for turning into race cars while washing up liquid bottles have just the right shape to be transformed into a Star Wars style space craft. Need wheels for your car? Bottle tops and plastic buttons will come in useful. How about building a brilliant fort or secret hideaway out of some boxes? Try this Youtube Video
featuring Konnie Huq, which takes you through how to create a fantastic washing up liquid space rocket.
Our advice is to start looking at your recycling in a different way and consider what it can be transformed into with a little imagination.
Creative Art Work
Sometimes you will want to encourage your child to be more imaginative. You can use practically anything to create wonderful works of art. For example, you can build a small frame out of string and a few bits of wood which children can then use to weave different materials in and out of. How about making a collage from different coloured sections of a magazine or a mosaic out of strips of old colourful clothing? This tutorial will show you how to create your own loom.
Egg cartons are a great product to upcycle. Cut out the individual compartments into different flower shapes and you’ll have hours of fun painting them.
Upcycling projects are the perfect way to enjoy and celebrate certain holidays like Christmas, Easter and Halloween with your children. Papier Mache masks are brilliant for scaring the neighbours at Halloween and getting artistic can help decorate your Christmas tree with something special you can use every year.
Keep a spare box for upcycling supplies and you should never run out of useful materials for those fun and interesting projects.