Give discards one last life before they hit the recycle bin. Children can transform glass jars, cardboard tubes and other trash into colorful penny banks, magical castles and picture frames. A second-grade child of 7 to 8 years old may have adult-like fine motor skills, but may lack the hand-eye coordination when swinging a hammer. Steer him toward trash makeovers involving dexterous painting, cutting and decorating.
Unscrew the glass lid to make a small photo frame. Dip the underside of the lid in poster paint. Press it onto a piece of construction paper. It creates a ring outline the size of the lid's underside. Use it to stamp circles onto a homemade card or work of art. On one sheet of paper, stamp a single circle. With scissors, cut inside the outline. Either decorate the construction paper circle or use it as a template to cut a photo or existing picture to fit inside the lid. Glue the picture inside the jar lid. To make a small stand, cut a triangle out of the edge of a box flap and affix it to the back of the jar lid. A small, glassless frame holds a small photo on the child's desk. Group a charming arrangement made from various sizes of lids.
Use the remainder of the jar for a coin bank. Paint the sides with watercolor paints. The paint will appear very translucent. Permanent markers also work on glass, though they may smudge. Cut a small piece of fabric into a square or circle about four times the size of the jar opening. Cut a slit into the top. Lay the fabric over the jar lip and fasten it down with a rubber band. While the jar's lid might be the best top, it already has been transformed into a picture frame. In addition, a child can cut a hole in fabric but might not demonstrate dexterity with snips strong enough for metal. A glass jar may also serve as a time capsule. Fill the jar up with memories. Stretch a piece of plastic wrap over the top and screw the lid on. If the inside of the lid bears the photo, it adds yet another memory to the collection. Hide it in a closet or give it to a relative to resist the temptation to open it before the specified time. Open it in a year or two.
Skeletons of paper-towel rolls and toilet paper can supply turrets for a castle or a pole for a pirate flag. Collect cardboard boxes and tubes in a variety of sizes. Stack, decorate and tape or glue them together. Make castle furniture for action figures and dolls with small boxes. Short paper tubes become friendly robots. The aluminum foil that covered a plate of cookies wraps around the tube to represent other-worldly metal. Collect orphaned buttons and caps from food coloring bottles for the knobs and eyes. Thoroughly washed bendable straws or pipe cleaners from other projects make the antennae. For a flag pole for a kid-sized fort, start with one long tube. Slide the edge of the next tube an inch or two into the first one. The child might need to slightly bend or press the tube to make it fit. Reinforce each joint with duct tape or masking tape. The flag poll is only limited to the number of tubes on hand. Make the flag from the glassy advertising section of the newspaper. Paint it with poster paints to cover up the graphics, or cut and paste other images to create a scene. Affix it with tape.
Crepe-paper streamers festively decorate retirement and birthday parties. Save them for the next party. However, after many uses, streamers tear, fade or just wilt. Attach the streamers to the cardboard tube flag pole. Braid streamers tightly. Hang the streamer rope from the ceiling or the inside of a closet for an easy hat rack. Attach baseball caps with clothespins or clips. Tie it to the handle of a small wagon. The 7- or 8-year-old may have outgrown her toddler wagon, but a streamer rope extends the handle and makes it easy to pull to transport art supplies from room to room.
- "Childhood and Adolescence: Voyages in Development;" Spencer A. Rathus; 2007
- "Cups & Cans & Paper Plate Fans;" Phyllis Fiarotta and Noel Fiarotta; 1992
- Enchanted Learning: Robot Craft
- Photo Credit enfant dessinant image by Zeno from Fotolia.com two empty glass jars image by vadim kozlovsky from Fotolia.com sauber image by victoria p. from Fotolia.com party streamers image by max blain from Fotolia.com
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