4 Recycled Craft Activities for Babies and Toddlers

Turn thrown out materials into play items and recycled crafts for your little ones! Using recycled materials to make crafts with young children is inexpensive, fun, good for building new developmental skills, and great for the environment! 

Here are 4 recycled craft activities that turn baby wipe lids, paper rolls, plastic containers, and egg cartons into amazing learning experiences for your child.

1. Wipe lid photo board: 

Making this recycled craft activity takes some work, but the rewards for your baby are incredible! Your baby will work on fine motor skills as they open and close the lids. They build gross motor skills with tummy time, sitting up, and reaching to play with the photo board.. They will learn object permanence and build focus and memory skills as they play hide and seek with the photos. They will also be working on communication skills as you interact together, instruct and praise your child, and point and name who is pictured in each photo.  

What You Need:

  • Printed photos of family and friends
  • Large piece of sturdy cardboard
  • Baby wipe lids
  • Elmers glue or a glue stick
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue sticks 
  • (Optional) paint, wrapping paper, contact paper, markers, stickers

What You Do:

  1. (Optional) Use your paint, wrapping paper or contact paper to cover your piece of cardboard.
  2. Cut your photos down to the size of the wipe lids. You’ll need one lid for each photo. 
  3. Glue your photos to your board and hot glue the wipe lids over them.
  4. (Optional) Use markers, stickers, or anything else you can find to label the photos with names of your loved ones, or decorate around the photos. 
  5. Have fun opening the lids and looking at photos of your family and friends! Try playing peekaboo with younger babies, or ask your child to point to each family member as you say their name. For a challenge, try playing “memory” by asking your child to find a family member when the lids are closed. 

2. Paper Roll Binoculars

It’s time to go exploring to see what you can find in the great outdoors! Make these paper rolls binoculars for your next adventure!

What You Need:

  • 2 paper rolls (about 4″ – 5″ long)
  • Single hole punch
  • Glue
  • yarn or string
  • Optional: Stickers, crayons, and other supplies for decorating

  1. Glue two paper rolls together on the sides. Let dry.
  2. Put a hole in each side of the binoculars.
  3. Tie the ribbon/yarn through the holes.
  4. Optional: decorate the binoculars with stickers or crayons.
  5. Take your child outside to look through their own creations at nature. Look up at the sky, trees, and spot different types of birds.

What You Do:

3. Recycled Plastic Bird Feeder

Show care for nature by making a bird feeder for your neighborhood birds.

What You Need:

  • Wide shallow plastic container
  • String
  • Bird seed

What You Do:

  1. Punch 4 holes on the “4 corners” of the bowl.
  2. Cut 2 pieces of string about 20″ each.
  3. Hang onto a branch outdoors.

4. Grow Seedlings in an Egg Carton

What better way to teach your young child about celebrating the Earth than by starting seeds in your own garden! Turn an egg carton into your own seed starter kit. There are so many teachable moments as you watch, care for, and grow your own food!

What You Need:

  • Cardboard egg carton
  • Soil 
  • Seeds
  • Watering can

What You Do:

  1. Help your child add soil to individual egg cups in the carton.
  2. Have them use her finger to create a hole in the center of each cup. Place 1-2 seeds in each hole. Gently cover with soil.
  3. Sprinkle with water. Keep them in a warm, sunny location.
  4. Remind your child to water the seeds everyday. The soil should stay very moist. That’s a new vocabulary word for your child to learn, if she’s not familiar with it already.
  5. Once the seeds have sprouted into small seedlings, you and your child can transfer them to a permanent location.
  6. Make sure the egg carton is very wet and saturated before moving the seedling outdoors. Tear off one of the egg carton cups.
  7. Dig a hole in the container you are transferring to.
  8. Place the egg carton cup directly in the soil. It will decompose. That’s another great word for your child to learn! Explain that “decompose” means to rot or break down into tiny parts and become part of the Earth.
  9. Remind your child to water their seedlings every day to help them grow! Ask them how they think they will grow. You might also consider taking a photo of the seedlings on the same day every week, so your child can look back at the changes in growth.