Three Easy Upcycle Projects

"up·cy·cle: reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original"

Celebrate environmental education with these easy upcycle projects you can do at home.

Milk Jug Bird Feeders

Materials

  • Milk jug with cap
  • Decorations: stickers, bottle caps, milk jug caps, permanent markets, outdoor acrylic paint, tape
  • Tools: scissors, wire cutters, pliers, paintbrushes, garden pruners
  • Sticks cut to desired length for the perch or roof
  • Adhesives or sealant: non-toxic outdoor white glue
  • Hanging materials: bendable thick wire, wire clothes hanger, twine, thin rope
  • Birdseed

Instructions

  1. Wash the inside of the milk jug and cap with soapy water. Rinse well and try to remove the label.
  2. Use scissors to cut “windows” into your milk jug on the larger sides, opposite of the handle. Try not to cut too low or the seed will have less storage space.
  3. Use pointier end of the scissors to carefully puncture two holes near the top of the jug for the hanger.
  4. Cut your hanging material to your desired length and insert it into the holes. (If using wire or wire clothes hanger, use wire cutters to cut the length and pliers to twist the wire inside the milk jug to secure it.)
  5. Decorate your jug with stickers, permanent markers, or paint, letting everything dry in between stages. (Note: Sharpies and other permanent markers will eventually fade in the sun—if using these, keep your bird feeder in the shade.)
  6. Fill with birdseed and hang outdoors!

Additional Information

Visit All About Birds from The Cornell Lab or Ornithology for information how to choose the right feed, where to place the feeder, and how to maintain the feeder so you can attract more birds and keep them healthy.


Newspaper Kites

Materials

  • One large, full-sized sheet of newspaper
  • Kite string
  • Thin strips of scrap fabric
  • Two thin sticks of bamboo
  • Clear packing tape or scotch tape
  • Elmer's or craft glue
  • Sharp scissors (garden shears)

Instructions

  1. Choose and prep your bamboo sticks. You’ll need one that’s stiff and runs the width of a newspaper sheet, and one that’s a little more flexible that matches the length of the newspaper.
  2. Cut your stiffest bamboo stick to match to the length of the newspaper, and your flexible stick to the width of your newspaper.
  3. Use some of your kite string to wrap the two sticks together at the center, making a “t” shape.
  4. Cut small slits into the end of the bamboo sticks. Insert the end of the kite string in the little slot on one side of the shorter, flexible stick, wrap it around the end of the stick a couple of times and knot it so it’s attached to the end of the stick.
  5. Pull the string tight across the stick, making the stick bend a little, and slide the string through the slot on the other end of the stick. Tie it off and cut the string.
  6. Insert the end of the kite string in the slot on one end of the sturdier stick, wrap it around the end of the stick and continue until you’ve wrapped your kite string around every end of bamboo. (The string should make the shape of the kite.)
  7. Place the kite skeleton on top of the newspaper, wrap the corners of the newspaper over the string and glue it to itself.
  8. Tear an old sheet into long thin strips and tie the strip to the bamboo at the bottom of the kite for a tail.
  9. Turn the kite over so the bamboo is not visible. Make two holes in the newspaper to thread the kite strong onto the bamboo stick behind. Put two small pieces of clear tape on the newspaper to reinforce it.
  10. Poke the string through that hole on the front, loop it around the bamboo stick behind it and knot it, then cut the end of the string so it’s about two feet long. Poke the other end of the string through the other hole, loop it around the bamboo stick and tie it in a knot.
  11. Tie the whole spool of kite string to the center of that two-foot loop.
  12. Pick a windy day and have fun!

Additional Information

Interested in the science of wind? Visit SciJinks (from our friends at NOAA and NASA) to learn more about how wind the plays a part in the weather we experience.


Plastic Jump Rope

Materials

  • Plastic bags (as many as possible)
  • Scissors
  • Painters tape
  • Duct tape

Instructions

  1. Take each plastic bag and cut it open to make them flat pieces. Cut off the handles and any extra pieces so you’re left with large rectangles of plastic.
  2. Cut each rectangle into long strips. Start tying the strips together to make the strips longer in length.
  3. Take six long strips and tape them together with painters tape. Tape the group of six to a table or the back of a chair.
  4. Braid the six strips together. Repeat with a second group of six. You should have two long plastic braids.
  5. Twist the two braids together tightly so that the jump rope will have enough weight to swing when jumping.
  6. Tape the ends together with duct tape to create a handle.
  7. Take your jump rope outside and get moving!

Additional Information

For more information about the benefits of spending time outdoors in nature, check out NEEF's infographic on children and nature.


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