6 Fun Activities to Teach Kids to Recycle at Home

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

Recycling teaches your children to give back to the earth in the same way that the earth gives us everything. Nothing beats teaching them through activities. Have you ever bought toys for your children and they quickly lost interest? Do they prefer to play with items you’d never think they’d be able to play with, such as kitchen utensils, boxes lying around the house, and a variety of other recyclable items you’d never think would be useful? Now it’s your time to teach them all about recycling. Kids appreciate the simplicity and open-ended games.

Children enjoy using their imaginations so that a recycled box could be their musical instrument, and kitchen utensils could be their pretend cooking time. Many more ideas are available with objects lying around your house that you can recycle to use and save money on expensive toys while also helping them grow their imagination.

Children don’t care how much you spend or what you get them; they want something colourful and bright to play with during their free time. They are more concerned with having fun with whatever is in front of them. The quality time they will spend with you playing together or even creating their recycled craft with them, and the more time they will spend playing with it, the less you will have to worry about them being quiet, which we all know can be very worrying at times. Teaching them to use household items this way will teach them the 3Rs Rule: reduce, reuse, and recycle.

What is the 3rs Rule? 

Reduce: To decrease our environmental impact by not purchasing items we do not need.

Reuse: To give objects a second chance by reusing them and extending their lives.

Recycle: When you don’t have the option of reusing or reducing an object, you recycle it to create something new…

6 Recyclable Activities to Implement the 3rs Rule

  1. Reused Tissue Rolls

Materials you will need:

  • Tissue rolls (as many as you can find)
  • Tape (whole roll)
  • Ball (as many as you want)


Look for an empty wall at home that’s safe for your child to play around. For example, get all the tissue rolls you have from the kitchen or toilets and tape them on the wall to create a path for your child to put a ball through it and end up inside a bucket you have.

2. Reused Shoe boxes

We all buy shoes and end up with shoeboxes we don’t know what to do with. So gather all the shoeboxes lying around your house or a gift box because you’re in luck. Because here’s how you can reuse them and save money on board games.

Materials you will need:

  • 1 Carton box lid
  • 1 Paper cups
  • 1 Colored paper (green and any other colours you have)
  • 1 White Marker
  • 1 Ball 
  • Pack of Straws


Game 1: A football field made from the lid of a recycled shoe box: Begin with the box’s lid; flip the lid on its back, get some green paper, and draw the field with a white marker, including the two goals and the centre field circle. Get two straws for each player, place the ball in the centre, and begin blowing at it until you score.

Game 2: Now, for the recycled shoe box, get coloured paper cut 4 strips the size of a finger and number from 1 to 4 (so each strip will get a number). Now stick it in 4 different locations, inside the box, one on top, one on the bottom, and one on each side, making a hoop for the ball to pass through. Place the ball in the middle, and start wiggling the box to get the ball through each hoop.

Game 3: Using the recycled shoe box’s lid, flip it on the back and cut up straws into different sizes. Then, the glue gun sticks the straws inside the lid vertically. One on the left, then one under it on the right and so on until the end of the lid. Now, put the ball on the top and move the lid from side to side to get the ball through the straws until the end.

3. Reusing Jar Lids

Any plastic tray you have at home could be used for multi-purposes, here is just one other idea.

Materials you will need:

  • Plastic Tray
  • Water
  • 4 Jar lids
  • Glue gun with glue sticks
  • 4 toothpicks 
  • 4 different coloured paper
  • 2 straws


In this game, they will use their imaginations. To begin, cut four small triangles out of different coloured paper and stick them on top of each toothpick, then onto the lid’s jar to form a boat. Next, fill the tray with enough water to float the lid boats on, then blow them from one side to the other with a straw. You can even use it to create a race to see who can get to the finish line first.

4. Reusing a Paper Racket and Balloon

Materials you will need:

  • Glue gun
  • Foam plates
  • Wooden stick
  • Balloons


Instead of buying rackets and balls and worrying that your child will break something, make this game more fun and does not require breaking anything. First, blow up a few balloons of various sizes. Next, take the foam plate and flip it on its back, apply glue to the back, and stick the wooden stick to it (it will resemble a racket); you can make as many as you want, depending on the number of players. Now, using your recycled racket, pass the balloon back and forth.

5. Recycling Paper by Going Fishing

Materials you will need:

  • Coloured paper
  • Yarn
  • Small magnet
  • Piece of cloth
  • Whole puncher
  • Black marker
  • Cotton pads
  • Paper clips


Let’s go fishing from the comfort of your own home:

  1. Draw two fish on each coloured paper, one on top and one on the bottom, and cut them up. Place the cut fish on top of one another and punch the edges all around, leaving 1 cm between each hole and two holes on top of the tail.
  2. Take two cotton pads, fold them, and place one in the centre of one cut fish, followed by the other.
  3. Using yarn, sew the two pieces together until all holes are covered, and secure with a paperclip at the mouth.
  4. Take a bit of cloth, centre the magnet, and tie the fabric together with yarn to create a closed pouch for the magnet, leaving enough yarn to act as your fishing rod.
  5. It’s time to go fishing!
  6. Cast your fishing line and try to catch some fish.

6. Reusing Materials to Create an Aquarium

Materials you will need:

  • Black marker
  • Big zip lock bag or transparent folder
  • White paper
  • Coloured markers
  • Black paper
  • White paper with a picture of a flashlight (you can print it or draw)


Why go to the aquarium when you can make your own at home? To begin, place the white paper inside the transparent folder/zip lock bag and start drawing what you would find inside the aquarium with the black marker (fish, seaweed, water, pebbles, and so on). Then, using your coloured markers, begin colouring your drawing:

  1. Place the black paper inside the folder on top of the white paper.
  2. Take your flashlight and cut it, keeping a large triangle on top to simulate the light emitted by a flashlight.
  3. Place it inside the folder and move it around; it will appear to release light on various parts of the aquarium.

Simple DIY Crafts Will Teach Your Children the 3rs Rule

These are just a few suggestions for reusing materials lying around the house. One great idea will spark many more, so imagine how many more ideas you can generate if you begin with simple ideas like the ones mentioned above. Guiding them in creating their toys or games from household items will teach them to save money by purchasing fewer toys; they will reuse by looking for second chances for objects lying around the house, thereby recycling the objects. The most important thing to remember is to have fun! 

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