Recycled 3D creature crafts

With the rise of concern about Earth's depleting resources, businesses are popping up that advertise the sale of art made from recycled materials, as can be seen on websites such as Mecca Materials Exchange for Community Arts. Kids, too, can creating their own art from recyclable materials. Making three-dimensional creatures from recyclables with kids offers the opportunity to discuss the importance of recycling while create a satisfying project.

Milk-Jug Creature Masks

Cut a clean, dry, gallon milk jug in half from top to bottom in such a way that the handle remains in the centre of one half. Design a mask using the handle as a nose or snout for your creature. Draw and cut out eye holes. Use acrylic paint or permanent markers to add colour and facial features to the mask. Alternatively, you can cover the mask by gluing on pieces of coloured tissue paper, and then painting a coat of glue over the tissue paper to seal it. Use hot glue to attach old buttons, coloured paper scraps, yarn scraps or cloth to create more facial features such as eyebrows, a mouth, whiskers and ears. Punch holes in the edge of the mask side, and then thread yarn through the holes if the mask is to be worn.

Egg-Carton Creepy Crawlies

Cut an egg carton into strips. Make each strip the appropriate length for the desired creature. For example, use a piece three egg sections long for an insect or longer for a caterpillar. Colour and add details to the egg carton with acrylic paint or permanent markers. Use toothpicks or chenille stem pieces to create legs and antennae for your creature. Old buttons can be used to create eyes or spots on the creature body. Make striped designs on your creature by gluing on yarn scraps.

Snake, Centipede or Millepede Creature

Use small sections of paper tubing from paper towels or toilet paper to create these creatures. Paint the tubing pieces a colour of your choice, and allow them to dry. Connect the pieces using small brads so that the creature remains flexible. Add facial or body detail with additional paint, and allow it to dry. If creating a centipede or millipede, cut old chenille stems or paper clips into small pieces. Slightly bend the ends of the stems or paper clips, and push the bent end through the paper tubes as legs. The bend keeps the leg from falling out of the tube.

Soda-Bottle Fish

Cut the top off a 2-liter soda bottle just under the threads where the lid attaches. Cut about 2 inches off the bottom of the soda bottle, and then squeeze the bottom edges together slightly. Use a permanent marker to draw fin and tail outlines on the soda bottle bottom. Cut the bottle on your outlines using heavy-duty shears. Tape the tail and fin edges together using clear tape. Cut scale, eye and gill shapes from coloured scrap paper, and glue these to the fish body. Add mouth detail to the top portion of the bottle with permanent marker. Paint a coat of découpage sealer over the entire fish to seal and protect it.

Box-Robot Creatures

Gather a number of cardboard boxes in various sizes to create a recycled robot creature. Decide on appropriate boxes for the head, body, arms, hands, legs and feet of the robot. Be sure the feet are flat-bottomed and large enough to provide a sturdy base for the robot. Tape the robot parts together using masking tape. Paint the entire robot using acrylic paint, or cover it in liquid-starch-soaked newspaper strips to papier mâché it before painting. Add facial and body detail to the robot using recyclables such as aluminium foil, cloth and paper scraps.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Stover, an 18 year veteran teacher and author, has a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Maryland with a minor in sociology/writing. Stover earned a masters degree in education curriculum and instruction from the University of Texas, Arlington and continues to work on a masters in Educational Leadership from University of North Texas. Stover was published by Creative Teaching Press with the books "Science Tub Topics" and "Math Tub Topics."