Eco Explorations: Repurposing Cereal Boxes

Most of us love cereal, especially a staple with most kids.  In fact, it can be amazing how much cereal we all go through.  That’s not really a problem, except for the fact that it leaves you with so many empty cereal boxes.  Sure, you could just throw them away, better yet recycle, but why not upcycle and repurpose them into some creative adventures and turn them into fun family craft projects, instead?  

Here are some Eco-explorations cereal box project ideas to get you started.

Cereal box recycle

Your kiddos will love making these upcycled cereal box guitars and jammin’ in with their friends! Find how to at Frakers’ Acres

Cereal box recycle

An entire city of cereal boxes will keep kids busy for hours. Find more at Dinner a Love Story

Cereal box recycle

A fun and simple craft idea, but kids can surely create imaginative play around this. Find instructions at Lilla a Design.

Cereal box recycle

This cereal box shadow box is fun to make with hours of light and shadow play. Find more at Minieco.co.uk.

Cereal box recycle

This cereal box scrapbook is another great idea for upcycling those cereal boxes. Find instructions on how to here

We love these great inexpensive craft components. What are some of your cereal box adventures?

 

 

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Cooking With Kids

Cooking with kids

Cooking inspires all senses

Cooking with your kids can be a lot of fun, and is one of the most complete sensory activities. It also has a practical purpose. It can help them to learn all about healthy eating and try new foods.

Of course, you need to be careful, especially if your kids are still little. For younger kids, try getting them involved in ways that don’t actually involve cooking. For example, give them a head of lettuce and let them rinse the leaves under cold water and break them up to put in your family’s salad bowls.

If you happen to be baking bread, your little ones will love helping you to knead or roll the dough. In fact, you could even give them cookie cutters and let them make dinner rolls cut into different fun shapes.

If your kids are old enough, you can start to give them other tasks to do in the kitchen, as long as you supervise them carefully. For instance, try letting them choose their own fruits and make healthy fruit smoothies. Let them place all the ingredients in the blender and mix them up.

Kids that are even older can gradually start to help with things like chopping up vegetables. They can also start to learn about how to follow recipes and how to adapt those recipes. You can let them experiment a little bit with spices and different food combinations. That’s a wonderful way to not only pass the time, but also help them to learn things that they can use later in life.

Here are some resources for yummy recipes to try with your kids: 

Do you cook with your kids?

-by Jessica Kosinski

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Eco-explorations : 6 Recycled Valentine Inspirations

With Valentine’s day just round the corner, our eco-explorations section features some fantastic recycled projects to make memorable Valentine’s day gifts.

Valentine Twigs

Adorable Valentine twig arrows to make with your little crafters from Carolyns Homework.

Valentine Garland

Use old book pages or newspapers to make this heart garland, from Green Upgrader.

Bird seed heart cakes

Sweet little birdseed heart cakes from The Magic Onions.

Cardboard necklaces

These absolutely adorable cardboard necklaces will make lovely Valentine’s day gifts, from Cardboard Collective.

Valentine pins

We love these Valentine pins from Minted.

Nature

Take a walk, you’ll be amazed at how many hearts are made by Mother Earth, create a bouquet for your special ones, from The Magic Onions.

Find more Valentine crafts and treats on our Pinterest page.

 

 

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Glitter Valentine Pencil Holders

These glitter pencil holders will add a special sparkle to the Valentine’s Day, and these are so fun and easy to make.

Materials needed:

  • Blank post cards
  • Glue stick
  • Glitter
  • Pencil, brushes, scissors
  • Mod Podge
  • Pencils
  • Heart shaped stickers to decorate the pencils
Valentine cards

Draw heart shape on one corner of the blank post card.

Brush glue stick over the heart shape.

Sprinkle glitter over this. Shake off excess glitter.

Valentine Cards

Let it dry. Once dry coat it with mod podge so the card won’t shed glitter.

Valentine Cards

Make small slits on the other side of the post card, and insert the pencil through for Valentine gifts. Decorate the pencil with heart stickers.

Valentine Cards

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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Recycled Weaved Rain Stick Craft

These weaved rain sticks are super easy to make with all materials you will have at home.

Materials needed:

  • Empty paper towel roll
  • An old magazine or newspaper
  • Rubberband
  • Scissors, Tape
  • Rice

First, cut some magazine sheets or newspaper into strips. Weave the strips in a criss-cross pattern.

Recycled rainstick

Fold the strips on the paper towel roll and use some tape to get started. Cover the entire roll with these weaved strips.

Recycled rainstick

To make the ends of the roll, lay two strips in the shape of a plus sign and tape them together. Add four cross pieces to form an asterisk as shown, taping after each other.

Recycled rainstick

Center the strips on the paper towel roll, then fold them down and use a rubber band to secure them as shown.

Recycled Rainstick

Finish securing one end of the paper towel roll first. Then fill the tube about quarter with rice.

Recycled Rainstick

Secure the other end as well with the asterisk pattern paper strips.

Recycled Rainstick

Your rain sticks are ready to play with!

 

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Eco Explorations: 6 Things To Make With Plastic Bottles

While we should all use re useable water bottles, nevertheless, more than 1500 plastic water bottles are used every second in the United States. If you have some on hand, instead of trashing them, recycle. Better yet, here are some neat ways to re purpose and upcycle those empty plastic water bottles into crafts and such. Not only you upcycle, these are handy craft projects to keep kids busy during these winter months.

Bottles Recycle

These are fun recycled owl containers from Pysselbolaget.se.

confetti launcher recycled

Find instructions for this confetti launcher from Craft Berry Bush.

Recycled Bird feeder

Make this backyard bird feeder from Spoonful.

crystal-crowns-process recycled

Older kids will enjoy creating these cool crowns, from Paper, plate and plane.

spring-in-a-bottle-craft

Make your own greenhouse from Spoonful.

String lights

These string lights are a great way to use those Christmas lights and empty plastic bottles, from Family Crafts.

 

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Make Your Own Bubble Bath

Bubble Bath

Did you know that today is celebrated as National Bubble Bath day in United States? Believe it or not, it is true! At the same time, bubble baths are so much fun. It’s playtime for kids and relaxing for adults.

So why not celebrate today by making your own bubble bath?

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup unscented shampoo
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (regular table salt is fine)
  • Few drops food coloring
  • Few drops vanilla oil or vanilla extract
  • Empty clean jars 
  • A small bowl

Directions:

  • Pour the 1/2  cup shampoo and 3/4 cup water in a bowl. Mix well.
  • Add salt and mix well.
  • Add food coloring of your choice one drop at a time to get the color you like.
  • Add the vanilla oil/extract if you like.
  • Pour it in clean jars to store. 
  • If it’s a gift, then you can add a label to the jar, cover the lid with a scrap cloth and tie with ribbon. 

Or you can enjoy a bubble bath tonight!

Not only this is a fun project for the kids, it’s also a great homemade gifts-in-a-jar. For adult DIY bubble baths, you can add fragrances like lilac, vanilla or cherry.

Enjoy your bubble bath tonight. 

 

 

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Eco-explorations: Green Hanukkah Inspirations

As we are gearing towards Hanukkah celebrations this week, our eco explorations this Wednesday finds some eco friendly Hanukkah crafts. From home décor ideas to making dreidals out of milk cartons, and crafty menorahs, here’s our selection of some crafty and pretty inspirations for adding eco friendly creations to your Hanukkah celebrations.

DIY Menorahs

Menorahs are synonymous with Hanukkah, the festival of lights. No matter how you do it, a menorah always has 8 candles, and reminds us of the miracle of the Hanukkah lights. Recycled bottles, baby food jars, driftwood and so on can be upcycled into really creative menorahs for your celebrations.

Menorah

A crafty recycled bottles menorah

Menorah

A toddler safe craft with recycled jars

Menorah

Recycling baby food jars for diy menorah

Menorah

A creative menorah from baby food jars

Menorah

Driftwood menorah

DIY Dreidals

Dreidal is a fun game often played during Hanukkah. Find instructions here for making paper dreidals. Spinning lids and rolling paper tops also make fun, eco friendly dreidals. See links below to some of oour favorite dreidal activity projects.

Dreidal

Paper Dreidal Printable

Dreidal

Bottle cap dreidals

Dreidal

Stainless steel flat pack dreidals

Dreidal

Rolled paper spinners

DIY Hanukkah Crafts

Along with menorahs and dreidals, you can recycle and upcycle to create more home décor and crafts to spend family time together.

DIY Hanukkah

Chanukah bunting printed with recycled styrofoam trays

DIY Hanukkah

Hanukkah banner with eggshell mosaic

DIY Hanukkah

Star of David from recycled aluminum pans

DIY Hanukkah

Wire and beads Star of David craft

Find these and more inspirations on  The Happy Trunk Pinterest page.

 

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Top 5 Upcycled/Recycled Products

This is the season of giving thanks. We are thankful for the opportunity we have to live in such a beautiful world. The earth has such amazing renewable resources. We, as her occupants, also have the ability to recycle and upcycle many products to give a portion back to our Mother Earth.

Whether it is re-using plastics, recycling newspapers, or collecting tin cans, there are so many ways to give back and give thanks. There are so many people from large corporations to small mom and pop stores who utilize recycling and upcycling. We love to support those who make an effort to upcycle and recycle.

With that in mind, we have made a ‘Top 5 Upcycled/Recycled Products List’. This is by no means a complete list, as we probably could have made a top 100 list. However, when thinking of our little people and yours, these made our top 5.

#5 Picnic Bench Octobrunch Junior

Eco friendly Picnic bench
Made from recycled plastic, this slide in side picnic bench seats eight.

#4 Waterproof Baby Changing Mat/Playrug

Baby rug
This comfy, foldable, changing mat is made from recycled water bottles. It stores nicely in your bag or stroller, and is cozy as well as waterproof.

#3 Traffic Light Bird Feeder

Traffic Light bird feeder
Enjoy a wonderful outdoor experience watching the birdies feed from this fascinating upcycled traffic light bird feeder.

#2 Upcycled Chip Bag Backpack (Say that 5 times fast!)

Recycled Lays backpack
Your little ones will go bananas for this hip chip backpack!

#1 Paper Pod Cardboard Toys

Cardboard dollhouse Check out our number one! These eco responsible recycled cardboard pods of fun are awaiting your child’s imagination. Pick a rocket or a nice relaxing chair for the bedroom, these are amazing.

What are your favorite upcyled or recycled products for greener living?

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Trick-or-Treat Math

Halloween Math

Sort, Estimate, Make Candy Graphs

When my oldest child came home from Kindergarten on Halloween day, he had a very important worksheet, and some very sweet homework.

After he was finished running his little legs off collecting candy, he got to do his homework. Yes, can you believe it? Homework! His instructions were to sort his candy, and then make a graph of each group that he had. He then counted each group and used his data to compare and contrast the candy that he received.
He had a blast, and quite honestly, so did the whole family!

Who doesn’t love to sort their Halloween candy all snug and warm in the house after a freezing night trick-or-treating? What’s that you say? You live in Florida and you can trick-or-treat as a life guard because it’s so warm? Stop bragging, and work with me, okay?

We actually loved this activity so much that we made it a tradition and do our candy graphs each year as a family. You can do a basic graph activity or you can make it harder for older kids by estimating and adding different variables.

Here are some examples of different trick-or-treating candy graphs and math activities you can use:

What fun activities do you do after Trick or Treating?

Eco-Explorations : Halloween Costume Upcycle

Halloween costumes

A trunkful of Halloween costumes

While growing up my Grandmother had a wonderfully large trunk just full of all the Halloween costumes and accessories you can even imagine.  Each year come October, we would rush over to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to raid the trunk for a unique Halloween costume.

She had clown noses, cowboy hats; hippie clothes, a 1950’s poodle skirt, pom pom’s and cheerleader outfits, and let’s not forget the ever coveted gorilla mask.  Each year all of us cousins would have a contest to see who could come up with the most outlandish costume for Halloween.  It was always a blast to use our creative juices to make Halloween exciting.

Now, we didn’t know it then, but we were upcycling.  My parents called it ‘saving money’.  We just thought it was fun.

This year, try something different for Halloween.  Organize a neighborhood Halloween costume swap, raid the thrift stores for something original to add to your costume, or just utilize everyday objects lying around the house.  A roll of duct tape can go a long way, you know!

Here are some of our favorite Halloween costume upcycle ideas:

Last, but not least, get a trunk of your own and begin a new Halloween tradition for your family for generations to come!

 

 

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Spooktacular Books

With fall in full swing, and that fabulously spooky holiday creeping up on us, here are some Halloween inspired literacy ideas.

It’s always a challenge to keep literacy fresh and engaging. When children are having fun, they don’t even know they are learning. It just sneaks right up on them!! Here are some spooktacular books to keep literacy fun.

How many seeds in a pumpkin?

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?
By Margaret McNamara and illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Which pumpkin has the most seeds?

Flat stanley and the Haunted House

Stanley saves the day in no time flat!

Can you see what I see

Can You See What I See? On a Scary Scary Night
By Walter Wick
The author of the wildly popular I Spy series sets his latest book in and around a hilltop castle.

Who Will Haunt My House on Halloween?

Who Will Haunt My House on Halloween?
By Jerry Pallotta and illustrated by David Biedrzycki
Some scary creatures show up at a little girl’s door to trick or treat on Halloween night. But are they real?

Room on the Broom

A rhyming story about a witch who tries to find room on the broom for all her animal friends.

I am a dramatic reader. I love creating unique voices for the characters in children’s books. Halloween offers creative books and characters. Who doesn’t love trying out a cackling witch’s voice, or a deep, Transylvanian vampire laugh? Well, put on your favorite witch hat and try it out while reading Piggie Pie. Your wee little ghosts and goblins will love this story of a witch who is craving a specific dish only to be outsmarted by the main ingredient.

Another favorite in our house is Big Pumpkin. The predicable text and story line give your wee ones a chance to read along with you as the witch tries to pick a big pumpkin from her garden for pumpkin pie.

Another fun activity to bolster literacy is this monstrously fun sight word packet :

Monsters-Roll-Say-Keep

Enjoy these Halloween inspired literacy ideas, and share some of your own favorite Halloween inspired children’s books or activities.

 

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Eco-Explorations With Milk Jugs

milk-can Recycling

Recycle your milk jugs!

Did you know that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that only 6.8 percent of all plastics were recycled in 2007 as compared to the 50 percent of all paper which was recycled?

It’s amazing to think that even in this day of heightened awareness of the effects of tossing plastics; fewer than 7 percent were recycled. It is easy to recycle those plastic milk jugs, but even more enticing to upcycle them and make something fun with the family!

Whether you are using the empty milk jugs to protect growing seedlings in the garden, or painting scary ghost faces and illuminating them on a spooky Halloween path to your door, Upcycling milk jugs is a must for the whole family.

Don’t forget about those circular gems that top off the milk jugs. Milk caps can be used for Andy Warhol styled art projects. You can also glue letters cut from magazines or use letter stickers on them and then have fun creating words with your upcycled letters. You want to teach your little one some fine motor skills? Milk caps have this covered too! Save a pre-made frosting container and cut a rectangle in the lid just big enough to let a milk cap slide through sideways; save up those milk caps and your child has an eco friendly fine motor activity.

Some our favorite milk jug upcycles are:

No matter how you do it, those milk jugs are an essential in Eco-explorations!

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A Trunkful of Patterns

Patterns

Teaching Patterns

The opportunities to teach patterns to our children are varied and endless. We see them in nature, on clothing, in art, and of course, in math.

Building and understanding patterns is a basic math skill that children need to understand how things work. In teaching patterns, some key words that caregivers need to know and use with the children are, copy, repeat, and extend. To have a full pattern, the core must fully repeat at least three times.

Some basic types of patterns are, AB patterns, and AABB patterns. Some examples of AB patterns would be:
cat, dog, cat, dog, cat, dog
purple, blue, purple, blue, purple, blue

AABB patterns would go like this:
circle, circle, square, square, circle, circle, square, square, circle, circle, square, square

Start young with children and look for patterns around the house, on clothing, while folding socks, out on a nature walk, or sorting DVD’s.  As your children catch on, start varying the patterns to include harder combinations, such as, ABC patterns, or AABBC patterns.

Activities to teach and have fun with patterns

Before you know it, your children will be making patterns on their own with their bag of M&M’s or pointing out naturally occurring patterns in the world. It’s a great skill to master for math and beyond!

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Eco Explorations: Tin Can Alley

Tin Can projects

It is so wonderful to use common everyday objects and upcycle them into something fun, functional or beautiful.

Most of us have the opportunity to use a tin can or two. We eat readymade soups, or canned fruits. We may even come across a vintage tin can at a garage or tag sale. However we acquire them, tin cans make a wonderful upcycled project for this week’s Eco-Exploration!

Here are some of our favorite tin can upcycled projects:

We’d love to hear about your eco explorations.
Feel free to post on our Facebook page or tweet us.
Happy upcycling and creating!

 

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