Homemade Materials Issue – Pravita

Homemade Crafts & Teaching Aids For Kids
– Pravita Indriati

Pravita Indriati

Making teaching aids and kids’ crafts out of recycled materials has been some kind of tradition for a preschool teacher like me. Besides easy to find and cheap, this helps to teach children to recycle and reuse things for our environment. Students’ parents are usually our main source of the raw materials we use. From used milk boxes, cans, to tissue rolls, and more, since students’ households usually have more of these things around than the school does, we don’t hesitate to request these materials from them, and neither should you.  They’re generally glad to pass these things on to their children’s school and enjoy seeing what we create from them.

Crafts Ideas for kids   Here are a bunch of craft ideas, made from recycled materials, that tie in with themes often covered in schools that work with young learners, and these are just some of the ideas I’ve used with my students in my own classes. They can also be used as teaching materials, like the homemade musical instruments that you can use while singing with your students, or the homemade animal and building crafts for storytelling. The higher the level, the more complex the steps involved.

Crafts on A Music Theme

Bottle Shakers: You can make shakers out of used mineral bottles filled with materials like peanuts (be careful to kids with allergies), macaroni or beans, then have kids decorate the bottles with colorful papers or fabrics. They can even paint the outer side of the bottle.

Can or Tissue Roll Shakers: another idea for making shakers is using a small can filled with rice, or dried beans. Then, cover the topside or both sides with paper and attach it using cellotape.

Guitars: To make guitars from used milk boxes, you may need to cut a circle shape on one side of the box as the hollow part, or tissue boxes will make it easier. Then ask children to stretch rubber bands on the boxes. This activity can help enhance fine motor skills as well.

Drums: Using used milk cans, you can also make drums. Cover the open side with fabric and attach it with rubber bands. Then you can use chopsticks or your hand to hit and play.

Crafts For Animals Themes

Caterpillars:You can go to stores or supermarkets to ask for used egg cartons. They will come handy to make animals crafts like caterpillars, alligators, ants or anything else, depends on your creativity.

Spiders: Using tissue rolls you can make spiders. Just add pipe cleaners as the legs, and have them painting the tissue rolls, paste the googly eyes and attach a string as the cobweb.

Octopuses or Whales: I once made octopuses and whales by using paperbags. Just stuff them with crumpled papers and tie a rubber band or a string and cut the bottom part as the legs or tentacles or fins.

Crafts For House or City themes

Houses or castles: Kids love pretending and they love hideouts! You can make houses of children size by using TV or refrigerator cardboard boxes. Help them to cut some parts as the windows and doors. Then encourage them to decorate using paints, colorful papers, fabrics or other materials.

Transportation: By combining some used materials, you can make cars, trains or even trucks. Collect different sizes and types of boxes, from milk boxes, cereal boxes, milk cartons, to biscuit and medicine boxes. You can use tissue rolls or bottle lids as the wheels.

Buildings: From those used boxes I mentioned above, you can also make them into buildings. Wrap them with colored papers and cut small square shapes as the windows. Try combining boxes of different size and types to make it more interesting.

Teaching Aids These teaching aids are easy to make and even more fun for kids to use than using a ready-made one. You can also combine them to use with any skills you want to teach and develop, for example: fine motor skills, language, and more.

Math materials: Ice cube trays, egg cartons, yogurt, mineral water or ice cream cups can be used as counting device, or for sorting colors and shapes and lots more. Decorate them as attractive and as catchy as you can, depending on your need. If you want to make these for your students to sort colors then you just need to color them according to the colors taught or covered. If you use them as counting materials, then just write numbers on them — as many as the numbers taught or covered. Then put some counters on which you want your students to explore counting and sorting with – things like buttons, pom-pom balls, or even beads.

Reading materials: You can teach letter recognition, letter sounds or sight words and make the teaching aids for free. Collect lots of bottle caps of different colors, tissue rolls, and also used yoghurt cups to make them. Decorate and write the letters or sight words taught and put the objects you want your students to match.

Why not try some of these ideas in your classes? I’d love to hear how they work for you and would be very happy if you shared some ideas of your own in the comments below. It’s great when we share and learn more from each other.


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