Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Earth Day Activity for Kids

Recycled Art
Earth Day is coming up next week and we’ve got a great activity to do with the kids to get them thinking about our waste and how it takes all of us to reduce, reuse and recycle. Before your next garbage day, gather the kids to go through the garbage with you, looking for the following things:

  • How many items are in the regular garbage that should be in the recycling bin?
  • Is there anything that could have been used again before being tossed?
  • Are there items that could have been donated to charity instead of thrown away?
  • Discuss ways you as a family can remember to sort garbage more effectively.
  • Look at the bottom of the packaging for recycling symbols and talk about what they mean.
  • Are there items that could be reused again? Think creatively about new purposes for items you are tossing.

Finally, give the kids a challenge: allow  them to reclaim five items from the garbage or recycling and turn it into an art project or a repurposed useful item. Encourage them to think outside the box and use the materials to create something entirely new. Above are some beautiful examples of recycled art to get the ideas flowing, everything from an office organizer to a colorful lampshade and bouquet of cardboard flowers. More than just a busy exercise, this activity will get everybody in the family thinking about the products we buy, the amount of waste we create, and how we can work together to reduce our impact on the planet one family at a time.

Candy-Filled Yarn Easter Eggs

Mrs. Fields Secrets Candy-Filled Yarn Eggs
Get ready for Easter with some arts and crafts time! These yarn-covered eggs are filled with your favorite wrapped candies and ready to display for springtime, but the real question is: leave the candy inside? Or, try to get it out? We won’t judge either way.

Candy-Filled Yarn Eggs

small balloons
yarn
white glue
water
candy
wax paper

Directions
Blow up balloons into egg shapes in desired sizes. Mix two parts glue to one part water and stir. For each balloon, measure 6-10 feet of yarn per balloon, depending on how dense you want the grid pattern. Soak the yarn in the glue mixture, then string the yarn around the balloon. Set on wax paper to dry 12-24 hours. When yarn is hard and dry, pop the balloon and remove it, then sneak some of the candy inside.

DIY Bleach Designs

Mrs. Fields Secrets DIY Bleach Designs
There’s a hot new trend out there on the clothing racks that you can do yourself in your very own home, with supplies you already have on hand. These DIY bleach designs are a fun way to personalize your new fall jeans (and save money while you’re at it). And don’t stop at jeans. You can add your own designs to t-shirts, tablecloths and napkins too! Follow these tips for best results:

  • Practice your method on an old rag or t-shirt and allow it to completely set.
  • Try different tools for different designs, like pencil erasers, toothpicks, Q-tips, sponges, brushes or rags.
  • For jeans, place cardboard in the legs to keep bleach from seeping through the other side.
  • Prepare the surface below your fabric. Cookie sheets, garbage sacks or bathtubs are safe surfaces.
  • Bleach pens are great for freestyle writing and designs.
  • Allow bleach to set for at least an hour before washing and drying to set the design.

Try out these fun ideas featured in the photo with full DIY instructions:

DIY Polka Dot Jeans
Bleached Linen Napkins
Bleached Jeans

Creative Outdoor Ideas with Glow in the Dark Paint

Mrs. Fields Secrets Glow in the Dark Paint
I love the idea of simple details like glow in the dark paint transforming outdoor spaces at night. Whether you’re planning a party or just giving your yard a special touch, let these ideas inspire you:

1. Small, stenciled images on a garden path will reveal themselves in the dark and also help light the path.
2. These flower pots glowing bright at dusk make quite a statement.
3. Spray paint stencils on the lawn in glow in the dark paint to add a festive (and temporary) touch.
4. I love the idea of an illuminated path like this, leading guests to a party.
5. Using a paper doily as a stencil, transform simple cement stepping stones into lacy, glowing art.
6. These tree stumps are colorful by day, and glowing bright at night—fun for seating or tabletop decor.

{Images via Pinterest. Sources unknown.}

Homemade Bird Feeder

Mrs. Fields Secrets Homemade Bird FeederAre you ready for a super simple springtime activity? Grab the kids, a couple of empty toilet paper rolls, peanut butter, and some loose bird feed. Spread a generous layer of peanut butter over the toilet paper rolls, then roll them in bird feed, packing it firmly. Slip the roll over a tree branch and watch for fluttering friends to arrive.

HINT: Place your bird feeders near windows, so you can see the action from inside your house.

3 Unique Easter Eggs

MF Easter Eggs It’s already time to start thinking about Easter eggs, and I’ve found a few great ideas to share. The only problem with these eggs is that they are almost too pretty to crack open.

1. Rubber bands create colorful stripes on these eggs, and don’t they look smart? Tutorial found here.

2. Naturally died eggs with flowers, and leaves, and onion skins are an age-old practice with stunning results. Tutorial found here.

3. These silhouette eggs are created with contact paper and careful exacto knife skills. Tutorial found here.

Not sure how to boil a perfect egg for decorating? Here are some simple, no-fail instructions that will give you a beautiful yellow center without the grayish ring.

Perfectly Hard-Boiled Eggs

Place eggs in a saucepan and fill with cold water until just covered. Cover with a lid, and heat the water and eggs over medium-high heat on the stove until water comes to a boil. Turn off heat and allow eggs to sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Immediately transfer eggs into a bowl of ice water to cool completely.

Last Minute DIY Valentine Ideas

MF DIY Valentine
The clock is ticking down, but there’s still plenty of time to create adorable, homemade valentines. Check out these easy DIY ideas (clockwise from top left):

1. Heart Transplant Apples. A couple of apples and a small heart-shaped cookie cutter turns a piece of fruit into an eye-catching, memorable valentine. Brush cut edges of apples with lemon juice to keep them from browning.

2. Lollipop Photo Cards. I shared this DIY valentine idea last year and still love it. It is so easy to put together and delivers a big wow-factor. All you need is a camera, an exacto knife, and some lollipops. Oh yes, and a cute little kid too!

3. Sign Language Hand-out. Trace your hand, cut it out, and tack down those two fingers to create a universal message of love—”I love you” in American Sign Language. A red heart in the middle seals the deal. I love this idea for adults and kids alike.

4. Lollipop Disguises. Mustaches for the boys, ruby red lips for the girls—simple shapes cut out of construction paper with a tiny x-shaped cut in the middle for a lollipop. Use cookie cutters to trace the shapes or freehand.

Have your own DIY valentine ideas? Share them in the comments section!

{Images via Pinterest.}

Cookie Christmas Ornaments

MF Cookies as Ornaments
Do you ever make a batch of cookies so beautiful, it almost seems a shame to eat them? These holiday cookie ornaments are so pretty, they belong on your Christmas tree! Plus, they smell amazing. This is a fabulous holiday craft to do with the kids, and an extremely budget-friendly way to decorate the tree. (Yes, they look good enough to eat, but they’re actually non-edible. So keep the kids from snacking!)

Cinnamon Cookie Ornaments
adapted from Martha Stewart

1 1/2 cups ground cinnamon
1/4 cup applesauce
8 oz. (one large bottle) white school glue
cookie cutters
drinking straw
glitter, confetti, or sprinkles for decoration

Directions
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup cinnamon with the applesauce. Once you have a mealy texture, pour in 1/2 cup of white school glue and mix until well combined. Allow dough to sit 1 hour. Sprinkle a thin layer of cinnamon on a clean surface and roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. (If dough is sticky, add cinnamon. If dough is too dry, spritz with water.) Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters, then cut out a small hole for ribbon or wire with the drinking straw. Bake for 2 hours, turning cookies over halfway through.

Once cool and dry, use glue and glitter or sprinkles to decorate cookies. Allow to dry thoroughly before wiring. Cookies will last several years if stored in tissue and bubble wrap.

Creative Christmas Countdowns

MF Advent 1

MF Advent 2

MF Advent 3

One of my favorite holiday traditions is a Christmas countdown. I tell myself it’s for the kids, but the truth is that I get just as excited about  I gathered some of my favorite ideas for inspiration and wanted to share them with you.

1. A variety of holiday envelopes arranged into the shape of a tree is too cute for words.

2. Paper cones create a forest of Christmas trees. Tiny surprises can hide underneath.

3. Tiny buckets, twine, and twigs create this darling display.

4. Trim Santa’s beard day by day until Christmas Eve.

5. Decorated clothespins hold brown paper packages tied up with string.

6. A simple paper chain contains holiday activities to share together.

The problem now is deciding my favorite. What about you? Do you have a favorite Christmas countdown idea?

How To: Create a Thankful Tree

This idea is equal parts simple craft project, entertainment for kids, Thanksgiving centerpiece, and feel-good activity. With a few simple items, you can create this Thanksgiving Thankful Tree and fill it with all the things you and your guests are grateful for this year. It’s a perfect gathering activity as your guests arrive, and simple enough that you can put the kids in charge of putting it together while you’re taking care of last-minute details for dinner. You’ll need the following items:

  • One sturdy branch from outside, about 3 or 4 feet tall
  • One vase, preferably tall and narrow
  • Whole nuts or smooth pebbles to secure the branch
  • Leaves cut out from colored paper (find a free template here)
  • Twine to secure leaves to tree
  • Pens, pencils, markers, or crayons for guests to use to write

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can spray paint the tree branch in advance to create more of a contrast. Otherwise, hold the branch in the center of the vase and fill the sides in with nuts or pebbles to secure it and keep it straight. Cut strips of twine just long enough to tie leaves to branches. Cut out multiple leaves, at least one per guest. Each guest can write his or her name on a leaf, along with what they are thankful for this year, before securing it to the tree. Once complete, place the tree in the center of the table for everyone to enjoy.

My favorite part of the Thankful Tree? It can be used again and again each year, and the leaves become a sweet way to remember Thanksgivings past!

One more thing—don’t forget to enter our 3rd Annual “Give Thanks with the Gift of Cookies” Giveaway! Entries accepted until midnight Sunday!

(Image via BHG.)

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