Contributor: Suzy Davies, Author of “Snugs the Snow Bear”
“Recycling,” describes a process to convert waste into material we can use again. It also means to return material to a previous stage in the cyclic process. When you recycle, it’s important to think about what can be recycled and what cannot be recycled.
A fun “game” to introduce children to recycling is to get them to “sort” items into trays of recyclable and non-recyclable things in a recycling “race.” Teams of kids can play, with prizes given for the best recycling team! Make sure you are at hand, and don’t let them handle any sharp objects. Before recycling anything, remember to keep items as clean as possible.
Items that can be recycled:
Paper and Cardboard
- Newspapers, Magazines and Wrapping Paper
- Cardboard Loo Roll
- Christmas Tree Decorations made of Cardboard
- Greetings Cards
- Writing/Computer Paper
- Cereal Packets
- Paper Bags
- Cardboard Boxes
- Shredded Paper
- Rigid Plastic Bottles
- Food Cans/Tins, (make sure that the edges are not sharp.) Aluminium, steel or tin
- Beer Cans
- Soft Drink Cans
- Jam Jars
- Wine Bottles
- Wine-Bottle Corks
- Old Car Tyres
- Clean Old Clothes
- Clean Old Sheets
- Popsicle/Lollipop Sticks
- Old Picture Frames
- Pumpkin Seeds
In this modern technology-driven age, we sometimes forget the pleasure of creativity and doing simple things with our children. Here are some suggestions to make each season fun.
- Recycling paper helps cut down on deforestation, and protects trees, which are the lungs of our planet, and are so vital in the fight against pollution.
- Many other materials, which are manufactured, can be recycled to reduce air pollution and landfill waste.
- Making things out of more natural materials, for example, pumpkin-seed jewellery, (rather than buying plastic or manufactured jewellry,) is another way we can care for the environment.
Activities for Each Season!
Create a Gift-Tag
Cut up old Christmas cards to make gift tags for Christmas presents. With a hole-puncher, make a small hole in the gift tag, thread fine wool through the hole. Glue wool. Attach gift card to the gift.
Recycle wrapping paper and tissue paper in good condition to make Christmas crackers. Use the wrapping paper for the outer layer of the cracker, with colorful tissue paper for the inner layer, and a old loo roll tube to contain the gift.
Write a fun joke or message on a small slip of paper to put inside each cracker. Very small gifts can be put inside, but be sure to supervise your child.
Twist the ends of each cracker.
For a more professional-looking finish, professional cracker-making kits can be purchased online, to achieve the look of a bought cracker with very tight neat ends.
Make Christmas Tree Decorations
Find festive illustrations in old magazines or use old Christmas cards or gift tags. If you use cutouts from magazines, glue these onto old cardboard and cut out the shape. Make a hole in your decoration, and use old ribbon to secure to your tree.
Make Santa Stockings!
Recycle old fabric such as felt to make Santa stockings! Create a template, and cut the fabric round that. Glue on motifs such as Santa, Moose, Reindeer, Polar Bears, holly, ivy, snowflakes, igloos, Eskimos, Christmas and Nativity Scenes and so on.
Put a string of Christmas lights into a large old wine-bottle or vase for extra sparkle. Paint Winter Season decorations on the outside with glass-paint if you like. Make sure that the glass can withstand the wattage of the bulbs, and never leave on unattended.
Make a Jewellery Display
With a few old nails, tapped into an old picture frame, kids can display their necklaces and other items of jewellry. For a good effect, line the picture frame with a pretty recycled fabric – cotton or velvet, glued into the back. Dark plain colours such as ruby red, midnight blue and black work best.
Make Easter Eggs from Papier Mache!
All you need is plenty of old newspaper, ripped or cut into strips, heavy-duty glue and a balloon.
Blow up the balloon. Dip each strip of newspaper into the glue, and stick firmly onto balloon. Carry on until you have two layers of newspaper covering the balloon. Put the balloon in a bucket or container covered with plastic- wrap. Leave the balloon to dry completely. Now, paint the balloon with an undercoat of acrylic paint. Leave to dry. When it is completely dry, paint with bright colors. Decorate the egg with whatever you like! Supervise small children at all times.
Get Outdoors and Try some Gardening!
Use old wine-bottle corks on wire or old popsicle/lollipop sticks as markers for a child’s garden. You can write the names of the flowers or vegetables kids have sown on the corks or sticks in waterproof pen, and wait for the garden to grow. Herbs or easy-grow, quick-growing flowers are fun.
Make a Wind-Chime!
Use those old bent coat hangers and old cutlery and tin cans to make some noise. Hang spoons, knives and forks from a large food can (pre-drilled), using coat-hanger wire.
Float That Boat!
Using old cardboard boxes bring the sea closer with a make-believe children’s boat, cut out from cardboard. Maybe it’ll go near the sandpit! Decorate with seaside theme using paints. Alternatively, make a car or a train.
Make a Doll’s Summer House
Make the house with cardboard boxes using a staple-gun or strong glue.
Make furniture with recycled matchboxes, matchsticks, paint and glue. Use old wallpaper to decorate the walls in the house and/or the furniture.
Make Some Music!
Fill old jam jars with different levels of water. Add non-toxic paint to the water so that each jar has a different musical sound associated with each colour. Use popsicle/ lollipop sticks or old cutlery such as teaspoons so when kids strike the sides of the different jam-jars they all make different pitched sounds, according to the level of the water.
Free as a bird!
Make a child’s swing with an old car tyre, hanging from a tree. Make sure the location is safe and there’s a soft landing. Check that the rope is secure.
Get Messy with Seed Pictures
Get in the mood for Autumn with a pumpkin seed or rice picture with a Halloween theme – think ghosts, ghouls, pictures of pumpkin lanterns, woodland scenes. The more colorful the better. The rice or seeds can be glued onto paper. Use as much paint as you like! The seeds create a textured effect. Frame them if you like with old picture-frames.
Make Pumpkin-Seed Jewellery
Gather the seeds from the pumpkin and leave on a paper towel to dry out thoroughly overnight. Color the seeds with non-toxic waterproof markers or leave natural. Then, drill the holes in the seeds using a big needle, (do this bit for your child.) Measure the elastic so the necklace length is correct and cut the elastic to the required length. String the seeds onto elastic. When finished, tie a firm knot in the elastic. You’ll need about 125 seeds for a necklace.
Make ghoul decorations!
Use old white sheets to make ghostly apparitions appear after dark, hanging from your trees. Cut the sheet into a ghost shape. Stuff the top of the decoration with old rags or shredded paper and tie with string to make the head. If you like, paint on features or use waterproof markers.
Let the Phantom of The Opera inspire you and make decorated masks to celebrate Halloween. First, make a template of the mask, measure carefully to make it fit, with holes for the eyes. Make two holes each side of the mask and thread with elastic so the mask fastens securely round your child’s head. Paint and decorate with non-toxic paint, sequins, seeds, beads, glued onto the mask.
All Year Round – Think Green!
Why not try your hand at the ancient art of paper folding – Origami! Recycle plain white or coloured paper to make a “Snugs The Snow Bear” with your child. You can find Origami Polar Bears with instructions on how to make them online.
The polar bear, an endangered marine animal, is a special symbol at the heart of Green Issues and represents the dangers of Global Warming, a phenomenon we cannot ignore, which threatens to make vast areas of the earth uninhabitable for humans and for endangered species.
Ever since I read Elisabeth Beresford’s, “The Wombles,” I was inspired to write a green-themed children’s book with lovable animal characters. “Snugs The Snow Bear” is my book, which does just this. Not only does Snugs teach children about recycling, he also raises awareness of Climate Change and how children can help in their own way.
Snugs was inspired by the magical optical illusion, “The Polar Bear of The Isle of Wight,” which can be viewed from Southbourne beach, in Bournemouth, over the ocean near the famous chalky landmark, “The Needles.”
“Snugs The Snow Bear” is suitable for kids four years and over, and can be a springboard for discussions about Climate Change and Endangered Species and for all kinds of recycling activities and projects.
This article has just a few of my ideas for activities you can enjoy with your child. Many of these activities could support subjects taught in schools and as part of a home schooling curriculum. Another way you can help the environment and reduce your carbon footprint is by recycling books! Why not share and swap children’s books with friends, start a second-hand book club or donate books to your local library or charity shop. Be green!