Bank Better, Live Better

cool crafts kids can make with things you stockpiled

Hands up who bought too many bags of pasta? Boxes of cereal? And, ahem, toilet paper? Exactly. Not sure how to turn those empty boxes into a cool home project? Don’t despair. Lucky for you, clever moms around the world have been crafting for years. Here’s a round up of some of the best ideas they ever had.

You can take the tediousness out of a day of entertaining toddlers if you add a little paint, glue and glitter. And when you can’t leave the house to buy art and crafts supplies? Check your pantry. All those items you’ve been stockpiling are going to come in real handy now.

Things to make out of… pasta

Not just versatile in the kitchen, pasta makes for an array of crafts for kids. Here’s what to do.  

Start with: butterflies

You will need: Farfalle or bow-tie pasta, cardboard, paintbrushes, acrylic paint in various bright colours, permanent markers, kokis, craft glue

Steps:

  1. Paint the bow-tie pasta in an assortment of bright colours. Set aside to dry
  2. Once the paint is dry, use the permanent markers to add details to the ‘wings’ of each butterfly
  3. Arrange the colourful butterflies on a piece of cardboard, at different heights, and across the width of the page. Glue them down using the craft glue
  4. With a black permanent marker, add ‘feelers’ on the cardboard, above each butterfly. You can even draw a trail of dots behing each one so they look like they are flying
  5. Draw a few flowers or blades of grass along the bottom edge of the paper, so your butterflies can come alive in a garden setting

Other ideas:

  • Dinosaur skeletons are as cool as they sound and super easy to make. Draw a simple outline on a piece of black cardboard, then use macaroni, shells, spaghetti and craft glue to build the skeleton.
  • Pasta necklaces and bracelets are fun to make and great for fine motor skills. Use diferrent tube pastas (macaroni, penne, etc) and string or wool. Throw in a couple of Otees for extra fun.

Things to make out of… empty boxes

These projects count as recycling of another sort, so this is a win on two fronts. Here’s what to do.

Start with: a foosball game

  • You will need: an empty shoebox, thick wooden skewers, sosatie sticks or dowels, duct tape, green cardboard, thin masking tape, wooden pegs, corks, craft knife, metal ruler, hole punch, table tennis ball

Steps:

  1. Take the lid off the shoebox and trim off all the flaps. Create your ‘pitch’ by covering the bottom of the box in green cardboard and marking out the ‘field’ with masking tape
  2. Cut a goal into each end (measure it out, mark it up and use the craft knife and ruler to get a neat finish)
  3. Punch holes into the sides of the shoebox for the skewers or sticks. Start on one side, push a stick through, then punch a hole on the opposite side of the box and feed the stick through the second hole. Use the ruler to get your spacing right. You’ll want to use 3 sticks per team. Push the sticks through both holes
  4. Paint pegs different colours for the 2 teams. Red and blue for instance. Place 12 pegs on the sticks: 1 peg for the goalie, 2 pegs on the stick closest to each goal, and 3 pegs on the middle sticks
  5. Cut each cork in half and slide it onto the end of each stick to create a grip (and protect from any sharp ends)
  6. Drop in the table tennis ball. Score

Other ideas:

  • Rocket ships Stick together a few different-shaped boxes using masking tape. Paint them decorate them. Pieces of aluminium foil make great windows. If you have tissue paper, you can cut strips of yellow and red and glue or staple it to the bottom so they look like flames during lift off
  • Make a cereal box aquarium by cutting a large window out of the front of the box. Paint the inside blue and cut out fish you can dangle on pieces of string or wool. Coat the sea floor in craft sand
  • A big box will make an excellent parking garage for matchbox cars. Add extra levels and ramps with cereal boxes and Pringles tubes or empty toilet paper rolls. If you want to make the garage look more real, paint the ‘levels’ grey, and mark out parking bays with masking tape
  • A manicure station is great for fine motor skill development, and an easy way to put old nail polish to good use. Cut out to hand shapes from old cardboard boxes and get your kids to glam them up

Things to make out of empty toilet rolls

If you were one of the people who stockpiled this particular item, you’ll certainly have enough material for these projects. Here’s what to do.

Start with: Easter bunnies

  • You will need: empty toilet paper rolls, white acrylic paint, paintbrush, coloured cardboard, pipe cleaner, small pom-poms, googly eyes, craft glue, black permanent marker

Steps:

  1. Start by painting the empty toilet roll papers white
  2. Trace and cut out 2 bunny ears from the white cardboard. Then cut out 2 smaller similar shapes from the coloured cardboard
  3. For the whiskers, twist 3 small pipe cleaners around each other and glue them onto the front of the painted paper roll
  4. Glue a pom-pom on top of the pipe cleaners for a cute bunny nose
  5. Add 2 googly eyes above the nose or, if you don’t have googly eyes, paint eyes on with a permanent marker
  6. You can also use the permanent market to draw on a mouth under the nose

Other ideas:

  • Easy-to-make binoculars are great for explorer games around the house and garden. Glue or staple the empty rolls together, then decorate. Attach a riboon or length of wool so your little Livingstones can hang them from their necks
  • Make a princess ice castle or a cool city skyline using empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls. Glue the rolls together to resemble a building structure, paint and decorate
  • Whether you’re in the mood for fish, an octopus or squid, you can feast on this seafood, guilt-free. You’ll need plenty of paint and googly eyes, coloured paper, bits of string and wool. Once you’re fishy friends are finished, use them to populate your cereal box aquarium

Things to make out of… paper plates

Paper plates are not just practical when it comes to a fuss-free suppertime clean up. Here’s what to do.

Start with: simple animal masks

  • You will need: paper plates, acrylic paint in different colours, paint brushes, craft glue, scissors, stapler, black permanent marker, paper straws or ice-cream sticks, feathers (optional), pipe cleaners (optional)

Steps:

  1. For each mask, cut a plate just over the halfway line. Draw two circles for eyes and carefully cut them out. For a cat or pig mask, use the discarded part of the paper plate to cut out 2 triangle-shaped ears. For a bird, use the extra bit to cut out a beak
  2. Paint your mask a colour relevant to your animal of choice. Set aside to dry
  3. For your cat, draw a heart-shaped nose onto the plate with a permanent marker. To add whiskers, cut a pipe cleaner in half, then fold it and glue it in place on either side of the nose
  4. To add a snout to your pig mask, cut off the end of an empty toilet paper roll. Trace the outline on the discarded part of the plate, cut it out and glue it on top to seal the snout
  5. For your bird, fold the discarded part of the plate in half, and cut out a triangle shape you can glue on as a beak. If you have them in your craft cupboard, add feathers to the top of your bird mask  
  6. To make a handle, staple or glue a paper straw or ice-cream stick to the back of the mask to finish

Other ideas:

  • Superhero masks. These masks are sure to save the day during lockdown. You’ll need paint, permanent markers, string and glue. If drawing’s not your thing, download a free printable template for the superhero masks here. We won’t tell.
  • Make a mobile. Choose between a moon and star night-time setting or a colourful rainbow cloud. You’ll need some paint, paint brushes, cotton wool balls, tissue paper, scissors and string. Don’t have tissue paper? Use acrylic paint in, well, a rainbow assortment of colours to paint strips of paper instead.
  • A hot-air balloon is an easy paper plate project. The plate ‘balloon’ doesn’t even need cutting out, just some creative decorating. If you want to add some wow factor, why not try weaving your own basket? Connect the balloon and basket with with some string, or put some of those pesky plastic straws to better use.
  • Take a walk on the wild side with birds, bees and bugs. No real crafting skills required here, just some patience and a few pots of paint. Use this project as a home-schooling exercise by getting toddlers to count the dots on a lady bug, wings on a bird and stripes on a bee.

Important: Don’t leave children to tackle these projects unsupervised.

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