5 Great DIY Upcycling Ideas for Toddlers

It’s the rainy season for many, and also the kids holiday now or approaching very soon! So how do we entertain our kids if the weather does not allow us to play outside and our children have all this time on their hands?

Well, this is the best time to get those busy fingers happy doing eco-friendly DIY projects!  And what better way to do activities with your kids that to make use of all your trash and transform it into art, musical instruments and toys?

Doing DIY the eco way, isn’t just going to save you tons of money that would have been spent at the arts & crafts shops, it will develop the creativity of your child and show that things that we usually throw away without thinking about it can actually have a second life. Kids love to up-cycle!

Here are five great DIY upcycling ideas you can do with your toddlers (with sometimes a little help from an adult), but that can still be fun up to the age of 8!

Recycling empty plastic bottles and jars

Sensory water bottles: Stimulating vision sense and developing fine motor skills and attention span.

This is a project that is always a success when I offer it at our Conscious Parenting Toddlers’ playgroup. The toddler love to practice their fine motor skills by putting little objects in the bottles or using small tongs and using a fennel to pour water inside the bottle.

The result is great and can keep children and adults busy watching stuff moving inside for what becomes long minutes and the bonus effect is it can help kids to concentrate and relax.

How to make a water sensory bottle?

  1. Use empty plastic bottles, preferably with a clear and non-shaped plastic – make sure you keep the cap!

  2. Choose any kind of little objects that can go through the narrowest part of the bottle: it can be pompoms, mini figurines, mini multicoloured elastic bands, mini Lego blocks, glitters, etc. Don’t fill up the bottle too much, as you need to see the up and down movement of the objects when you shake it.

  3. Using a funnel, pour water inside up to the top

  4. Close the cap (you can glue it if your little one likes to unscrew caps) and shake it in different ways to see the objects moving slowly inside!

Sensory shaker bottles: Stimulating hearing sense and developing fine motor skills and attention span.

This is pretty similar to the previous project, but instead of using water, you can use rice or sand. You can pre-color the rice or use coloured sand if you want to add colours.

How to make a shaker sensory bottle?

  1. Use empty plastic bottles, preferably with a clear and non-shaped plastic with a cap.

  2. Have little objects that can go through the narrowest part of the bottle ready: pompoms, mini figurines, googling eyes, anything you didn’t know what to do with it and is interesting to look at in a child’s perspective!

  3. To mix well the objects and rice, you need to start with a little bit of rice first using a funnel, then add one or two objects, then add more rice and repeat until the bottle is 2/3 to ¾ full. Don’t fill up completely the bottle this time as you will need to allow the objects to move and reveal themselves when shaking the bottle.

  4. Close the cap (you can glue it if you think it’s necessary) and shake the bottle to hear the sound of the rice move the bottles in different ways to watch all the objects appears one after the other!

You can make specific themes for your bottles:

  • Sea theme using seashells and fish figurines and sand or blue coloured rice or water

  • Jungle theme using wooden sticks, and green rice, and jungle animals’ figurines

  • Christmas theme with red and green pompoms and glitter.

Possibilities are endless – go with your child’s passion of the moment and include them in the theme choice, to develop interest and creativity!

Recycling toilet rolls

Rice shakers: stimulating hearing sense and developing fine motor skills and rhythm.

This project is also a big hit when offered to toddlers and older kids!

And we all have loo rolls in the house, so very easy to do without a lot of preparation.

How to make rice shakers?

You will need loo rolls, large tape, rice, and anything you want to decorate: decorative tapes, paint, markers or stickers.

  1. Close one end of the loo roll pinching both sides together and using the large tape.

  2. Pour 2-3 tbsp of rice inside the loo roll (not too much as you need the rice to be able to move to make sound)

  3. Close the other end using the large tape again, but this time the opposite sides so the loo roll will become a berlingot shape

  4. Decorate the rice shaker the way you like it! Decorative tapes, paint, stickers, markers etc.

Little car garage: developing fine motor skills and organizational skills

I got this DIY project idea watching my toddler playing with loo rolls that I was initially saving for another activity. One of the boys was parking his cars inside the rolls and wanted to stack the rolls to make a multi-levels garage!

How to make a loo rolls garage for toy cars?

  1. Save a few loo rolls – the more you have, obviously the more cars car be parked and the bigger the garage will be

  2. Paint / decorate the way you and your little one like it the rolls

  3. Attach the first raw of loo rolls using a glue gun or double-sided tape

  4. When satisfied with the length of the first raw, add another raw attaching the loo rolls in the same ways as before

  5. Add as many levels you want to, making the shape you like – ask your little one to decide!

This project can help your child develop organizational skills and be more cooperative by making it fun to park cars after playing instead of leaving them on the floor!

Recycling groceries cardboard and cartons:

When you receive groceries delivery in big cardboards, do keep them, especially if you have a toddler!

If the cardboard box is big enough, one easy way to use it, is to put the toddler inside it, leaving of course the top part open. Giving your son or daughter some some crayons or marker, he or she will be kept busy for a while drawing inside the cardboard with the added bonus of “containing” the mess! If the cardboard is too small or your child is too big to go in, just open both ends and let your child crawl under and draw! It’s also great for your child build gross motor skills and spatial awareness using the carton as a tunnel to crawl inside.

Another way to use cardboards is to make houses, castles, cars…whatever your child fancies! With a little help of an adult and Mr Tape, and with all the possibilities of decorating it, it’s a great way for her to get entertain, develop imagination and creativity, and create your own world for a few weeks. And when the phase has passed, you don’t have the same bad feeling when you throw it away for good!

Watch this space for Crafty Fox’s DIY Snowglobe using your own jar – out later this month!


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