Recycled art for kids can be a fun and creative way to cut down on waste by reusing, recycling and repurposing our trash into artwork.
Oftentimes creating art with children can produce a tremendous amount of trash. Recently, I happened upon a crafting event at a local business. There were mountains of supplies and a frenzy of activity including cutting, gluing, and painting. The children were happy and the artwork was great, but the aftermath was disappointing.
The trash cans were piled high with clogged glue bottles, loads of cardboard boxes, newspaper, and paper scraps galore! This got me thinking, what if we turn some of those discarded materials into art?
Let’s begin to look at trash in a new way and see the world of creative possibilities that lie before us. Let’s cut down on some of that waste by reusing, recycling and repurposing that trash into artwork.
Sorting through all of those plastic bottles, newspapers, and cardboard boxes can really get one’s creative juices flowing! Reimagining what trash can become is half of the fun!
We’ll use this process today by using discarded materials to create a beautiful collage of boats and ships sailing in the sea.
Boats at Sea Recycled Art Project for Kids
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- Cardboard, cereal boxes and other lightweight paper packaging
- White glue
- Tempera paint
- Paint tray
- Plastic water bottle
- Construction paper
- Shapes in Art
Embedded Learning Opportunity:
This art lesson is a great way to introduce and/or reinforce shape identification with young learners.
Our boat collage will contain copious triangles, rectangles, squares, circles and trapezoids.
When working with younger children I recommend using larger shapes in order for the artists to better manipulate the materials.
How many shapes can your child count and identify?
Can he or she draw each shape?
Step by Step Directions:
1. Create the Sea
Begin by cutting newspaper into curved strips to represent waves. Glue the waves to blue paper. Next, use an empty plastic water bottle to print circles onto the ocean. The bottle lends itself nicely for little hands to grip. Dip the open end into blue paint and hop onto the blue paper to create bubbles in the ocean.
2. Collect & Cut
Gather up pieces of cardboard and empty food boxes. Cereal boxes, breakfast bar boxes, cracker boxes and such work very nicely with their bright and bold colors. They are also lightweight and will be easy for children to cut. Begin to cut a variety of shapes out of the various cardboard pieces. Draw the shapes onto the cardboard beforehand if you wish. Triangles, rectangles, and squares will work nicely. Parents are encouraged to cut the thicker cardboard as it can be challenging for little hands to cut.
3. Build the Boats
Now let’s start building! Begin by using the precut cardboard shapes to form boats to float in the sea. Perhaps display photos of real boats as a reference or create boats from your imagination.
This is a great opportunity to encourage creative play as you move the shapes around the sea to form different floating vessels. Feel free to layer the cardboard pieces to create more interest and depth. Can your child name the vessel they are creating? Perhaps it’s a sailboat, cruise ship, speed boat, or catamaran.
When play is over glue all of the cardboard pieces into place. If any pieces curl up simply weigh them down with a heavy item for a few minutes.
Art and Literacy:
The book Don’t Throw That Away! by Lara Bergen is a wonderful companion to this art lesson.
This flip book, made from recycled materials, explores how discarded items such as glass jars, milk jugs, and cardboard boxes can be repurposed and reimagined into art and creative play items.
Talk/Write About Art:
Continue the fun and learning after creating your recycled art with these discussion and drawing prompts.
- Many owners name their boats, ships, or yachts. What is the name of your boat?
- Who is the captain of your ship?
- Where is your boat sailing? Maybe to a tropical island or a local shore point.
- Draw a picture to illustrate the weather in your art project. Is it sunny or cloudy? Is the sea calm or rough?
- Draw the shapes that you can see in your art project.
- Identify the “trash” materials you can see in your art project.
- Label the parts of your boat. Can you identify the sail, bow, stern, and hull?
Thank you for creating art with me today! I hope you enjoy this lesson that promotes reclaiming our trash!
During your next art project ask yourself how you can Reduce, Reuse, or Recycle while creating something beautiful.
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PRINTABLE TRANSPORTATION THEME LESSON PLANS
Save time and get right to the playful learning with our printable lesson plan sets. We have a variety of lesson plan sets that work well as winter themes. Each set includes over 30 playful learning activities related to the theme, and we’ve provided different versions for home preschool families and classroom teachers so all activities are geared directly toward your needs.
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