Trash Art for Kids
By Laura E. Stachel
Many items fated to become trash are a gold mine for your budding artist. Countless art projects can be generated with a good box of trash and a healthy imagination.

Keep a box in the house to collect items such as old magazines, used boxes, bottle tops, Popsicle sticks, egg cartons and broken jewelry. Keep some glue, string, wire and paint on hand to facilitate these projects. Other crafts supplies that may come in handy for creative art projects include pompoms, wiggly eyes, pipe cleaners, felt and feathers.

Some of the following projects can be done independently by your child. Others will require your assistance.

Old shoe boxes can be decorated and made into cars or linked with string to become a train.

Old magazines, fabric and packaging inserts can transform a large box into a terrific doll house. You can help your child decorate the walls, create individual pieces of furniture and craft small dolls.

Wood scraps can be glued together and painted to make a colorful sculpture. Older children may enjoy hammering pieces of wood together for the same purpose.

Cardboard toilet paper and paper towel rolls and plastic containers with lids can become musical instruments, such as horns and shakers. Place beans and rice inside a paper towel rols and cover the ends.

Old scraps of paper and magazines can be cut into shapes and made into a collage. Glue on beads or abandoned puzzle pieces for a colorful touch.

Egg cartons can be cut into strips to become the body of a caterpillar. Paint it and decorate it pompoms, wiggly eyes and pipe cleaners.

Old socks make great puppets. Use a hot glue gun to help your child attach wiggly eyes, a pompom nose and a fabric tongue.

Trash also can be used to create great learning opportunities in science and math.

Egg cartons, dried beans and a spoon can help your preschool child gain dexterity and math skills. Give him a bowl of beans and count and sort them in different ways.

Old cans may also be used by a budding gardener. These can be decorated and filled with dirt in order to serve as planters.

Clear containers can be used to practice pouring water. Children enjoy seeing how water fills different shape containers. Add a few drops of food coloring to the liquid to create even more fun.

A hanger and string can be the start of a mobile. Hang items crafted from used or found objects, like shells, and your child will learn about balance and art at the same time.

Of course, these are just a few ideas to inspire you. With a box of “trash” and your support, your child will likely come up with countless ideas of his own.