Arts and crafts can help children to express themselves and develop important skills. It also inspires them to think creatively and provides a space to get messy. But most importantly it’s a chance to have fun, use their imagination and even create something useful!
There’s no need to go out and buy lots of expensive art and crafts equipment for your modelling session when you’ve got recycling bins full of goodies! Using junk for your modelling and crafts isn’t just saving the planet, but also your wallet and your time.
Paints and glue at the ready! Here are 20 of our favourite junk modelling ideas for you and your kids to try, using old bits and bobs you may have hanging around the house!
Toilet Roll Tubes
Your used toilet roll tubes can make all kinds of models, from the weird to the wonderful. You may need extra bits, depending on what you’re thinking of conjuring up, but the base of all the following ideas simply need toilet roll tubes!
- Plant Pots
You can (really easily) make biodegradable mini planters using your toilet roll tubes. This activity can also help children to understand gardening and how growing plants works! Of course, you can decorate your pots before you plant your veg/flower of choice, and you could even label what they are, on the pot!
- Underwater Creatures
Anything from a fish to a shark and even Japenese style carp can be created using your old toilet roll tubes. An octopus is as easy as cutting 8 legs, adding a splash of paint and drawing on a smiling face! Get out scraps of junk cardboard, paint and some pens, and you could create an entire underwater kingdom. Let the imagination run wild!
- Desk Organiser/Stationery Holder
Kids who love doing arts and crafts probably have various pens, pencils and paintbrushes in their room. So, what better way to organise them than in a craft they’ve created themselves? Add some colour, decorative paper and use different heights and sizes to accommodate all stationary.
- A Cityscape
By fixing together, cutting and misshaping, you can create your own castle, house or even a mini-paper city. Don’t forget to cut out windows and doors and draw on some waving people. Click here to see a princess castle you could easily recreate.
By using just two cardboard tubes, a bit of paper and some string, you can create a pair of binoculars. Check out these for inspiration. You’ll have no choice but to be off exploring straight away once you’ve made these.
Plastic bottles are in every house with children. From squash and cordial bottles to milk bottles, there are endless possibilities for what they could be transformed into.
- Pencil Case
By simply cutting the top and glueing a zip on, plastic bottles can be turned into a pencil case! For use at school or at home, your child could hold all their stationary in a cool, upcycled case.
- Noughts and Crosses
Simply keep your bottles lids; you won’t need the bottles for this one. Draw your noughts and crosses on each lid, create a board from old cardboard and you’ve got hours of fun. That’s not just quality time spent creating the game, but playing it too.
- Door Hanger
Again, using just the bottle lids you can add a splash of colour to a room, and also enjoy a fun activity for you and your child. Simply thread the string through the bottle lids and hang together on a strong piece of metal or wood. If you want to see a finished product and gain a little inspiration, click here.
- Piggy Bank
You’re never too young to start saving some pennies. You and your child can make a fun piggy bank for the hard-earned pocket money (or gifts from family) by simply turning your plastic bottle on its side, cutting a slit and adding some creativity and imagination. You could even turn it into an actual ‘piggy bank’, with some ears and a little curly tail.
You can create some funky, and useful plant hangers from your plastic bottles. Simply use string to hang, or keep them on the ground, you can not only get crafty, but you can teach your little one about gardening and plants! You could spray paint your bottles bright colours for an extra vibrant outdoor space.
Every household has cardboard boxes, whether it’s leftover from an online order or from the weekend pizza. While it does depend on the size of your cardboard box, there are so many things that it can now become.
Is your child constantly performing? You can cut a hole in your cardboard box, no matter the size, and create a space for them to be whatever they want to be. Once painted and decorated, all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the show!
- A Building
If you’ve got a big enough cardboard box hanging around, you could conjure up an entire playhouse with your little one. Whether it be a castle with a moat, a summer house with a picket fence or a superhero mansion, all you’ll need is some scissors, some paints and pens and a wild imagination!
If you have numerous cardboard boxes hanging around, you are in luck! By simply cutting and taping them together you can create a wonderfully winding tunnel. A much more fun way to get from the kitchen to the bedroom! Get creative, add some obstacles, lights and peepholes and you could have hours of entertainment.
- 3D Nature Suncatcher
Not only is this a 3D nature suncatcher but it can also be a lampshade or a shadow box. All you’ll need is a cardboard box, contact paper, scissors, tape and some time to collect some wonderful outdoor bits such as flowers, leaves and ferns. Hold your finished boxes up to the sun and watch the vibrant colours shine through.
- Drive-In Movie Cinema
There are so many different modes of transport you can make with a cardboard box – a bus, ice cream van, a rocket, a train or a plane! You can also make a drive-in movie car perfect for a night at the movies (your living room, of course!). Popcorn at the ready!
Most households have old egg cartons that go straight in the recycling bin, however, their unique shape makes it the perfect piece of rubbish to get creative with.
Using just two sections from your egg carton you can create a pair of crazy, colourful specs. Get messy with some paints, add a splash of personality and colour, stick on some pipe cleaners, and you’ll be ready to see the world in a new light. You could even add some eyelashes or some big bushy eyebrows for an extra touch of fun.
- Flower Mobile
Making something as impressive as this may take a little longer than the rest of our suggestions, but it will certainly be worth it. All you’ll need is string and paint, and you can create a masterpiece. Hang this in your garden under shelter to add vibrancy and colour to any space. Of course, you can make it as small, as big and as colourful as you want.
- Fairy Lights
If you’ve got some plain fairy lights at home which could do with something extra, simply use your egg cartons to add a floral touch. Paint them to match your kid’s room, or just go crazy with colour, glitter and other extras. Whatever you do, you will have fun making them, and you could even transform a space.
- Bunch of Flowers
The shape of egg cartons makes them a great shape to create flowers! Simply paint, add a centre with a button, glitter or sequins, add a stem and pop them in a vase. You can make your own vase from an old tin, toilet roll tube or jar too- simply glue painted lollipop sticks around whichever one you choose. Making (and giving) gifts has never been so enjoyable.
- Jar Candle
Glass jars make a really great, upcycled candle holder, plant pot or decorative fairy light holder. They are also suitable for gift-giving. Whether you are giving home-made jam or some sweeties or creating a tealight holder, a personalised jar is super special. You and your child can have some bonding time by painting and decorating the jar together.
When you have free time with your children, every minute is cherished. Much of the time there’s no need to spend lots of money or indulge in extravagant activities when you have plenty of fun right in front of you. Nothing is more special than quality family time – and what better way to spend this time than by getting messy with paints and creating something meaningful? Not only that, but these modelling ideas will provide hours of fun (not just for the kids!). What’s on your DIY list? Will it be a bottle-cap curtain, a desk organiser or a bunch of egg-carton flowers?