Ideas for Games Made With Recycled Products

Updated May 10, 2017

Many items in the home are recyclable, from the cardboard paper-towel rolls to the caps on plastic bottles. Before hauling your recycle bin away, have some fun with the recycled materials by using them as building blocks or bases for games. In doing so, you can teach players the importance of recycling and learn what kinds of items are considered recyclable. In addition, students will learn sportsmanship and maybe get a little exercise.

Earth-Friendly Bowling

This bowling game requires six empty plastic bottles that have been cleaned. You'll also need an inexpensive light foam ball or any spherical recyclable material that rolls. If you'd like, paint the bottles before playing. Paint them first with white gesso so that the other paint will stick. Afterward, paint them with non-toxic coloured paints in any design and let dry. Screw the lids on securely and set the bottles up in a triangular pattern. Stand a comfortable distance away and attempt to strike the bottles with the ball in the same manner as bowling. You can add a point system of your choosing and an allotted number of turns for each player, or you can follow classic bowling rules. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

"Green" Pop Bottle Toss

Pop bottle toss operates like a corn-hole game; however it uses recycled two-liter bottles and pop bottle lids as materials. Such small materials add to the difficulty of the game. First, clean and cut two two-liter bottles a little above the middle and use the bottom halves as bowl-like structures that catch the pop bottle lids (put the top halves in the recycling bin!). Place a little dirt in the bottom of each bottle half for sturdiness, and set the containers a comfortable but challenging distance apart. Four people form two teams of two. Each team stands by one container and is handed 10 pop bottle lids to be separated between the two players on the team. The teams take turns tossing a pop bottle lid in an attempt to land them in the opposite container. Players will alternate who throws each turn. They play until all 10 pop bottle lids are thrown. The team with the most lids in the container wins. For added difficulty, swap bottle lids for pop can tabs if you have them.

Recyclable Memory Match

This game uses pop bottle lids for testing memory. First, clean 20 pop bottle lids from recycled containers; 10 should have an identical matching lid so that they make 10 pairs. If this isn't possible, paint designs on the tops so that there are 10 pairs of identical lid designs. Set these lids facedown on a surface and have two or more players take turns flipping over two lids in an attempt to find a match. Once a match is found, players will take their match and hold it off to the side. If a match isn't found, these lids are flipped over again and the next player goes. They will play until all matches are found. The player with the most matches wins.

Earth-Friendly Towers

Towers is a building game meant for numerous players. Grab all the recycled cans you can and place them in a large pile at one end of the room. These cans should be well-cleaned. Separate players into equal groups. Upon your "go" command, players will run to the can pile, grab cans, and go back to their stations. With their respective groups, players will attempt to build the highest tower with the cans using no other resources, like chairs, and in a designated length of time. At any time, players can return to the can pile for more cans. After this designated time, let the towers stand for five minutes to ensure the team created it with sturdiness in mind. The team with the highest tower that's still standing at the end of the five-minute buffer time wins. Adjust the game if needed to meet the needs of players. For instance, if kids are big enough, they can use chairs to build the tower higher.

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About the Author

Sarah Thompson has been a writer since 2006. She has contributed to Ohio-based publications such as "CityScene" and "Dublin Life" magazines, as well as Columbus' top alternative weekly, "The Other Paper." Thompson has also written for several online outlets, including Smashing Magazine and Web Designer Depot. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, sexuality studies and visual communication design from Ohio State University.