Up-cycle your arts and crafts for Earth Day

Photo: istockphoto.com/Stephanie Phillips

Up-cycling is the art of taking something disposable and transforming it into something useful and lovely. Look around your home and you're sure to find plenty of objects you can use.

Use those old socks
Family Fun suggests turning orphan socks into Shelf Sock Elves:

  • Fill a coloured sock three quarters of the way with dried peas or beans. An easy way to do this is to cut the bottom from a paper cup. Then insert the bottomless cup into the neck of the sock. Pour the beans through the makeshift funnel.
  • With a needle and thread, stitch closed the top of the sock. Use a few more stitches to gather and secure the sewn end into a point that resembles the tip of a stocking hat.
  • Then sew a medium-size jingle bell to the tip.
  • To form the elf's nose (a fun job for kids), use your fingertips to grasp a small bunch of beans about halfway down from the top of the sock. Wrap a rubber band around the base of the bunch to secure it.
  • Finally, glue or sew on two button eyes.
  • Legends & Lore also has step by step instructions on how make classic sock puppets with plenty of character.

    Green dreams
    Upcycle.ca has instructions on how to make your own dream catcher from old hangers:

  • Gather up ribbons of various colours, yarn, beads and feathers.
  • Bend the hanger into a circle shape and wrap with ribbon.
  • Make a web by stringing yarn and ribbon across the circle and tie off at the bottom leaving ends to create a tail. To add beads, string them on at various points while wrapping the yarn around the circle.
  • Feathers can be tied or glued on.
  • Upcycle your crayons
    "Earth Month is an ideal time to teach kids about recycling and reducing waste," says Shery Hanser, Platform Manager, Crayola Canada.

    Try some of these up-cycling tips from Crayola:

  • Line muffin tins with foil cups or aluminum foil. Place pieces of broken or old crayons (labels removed) into each cup and slowly melt in a low heat oven. (55 degrees C, 130 degrees F). Cool, and pop out for "new" chunky crayons. Print off some Crayola colouring pages to try out your new crayons.
  • Revive prematurely dried markers by dipping the tips in warm water for a couple of minutes.
  • Take crayon shavings and crumble into small glitter-like pieces. Store in recycled jars and then let your kids' imagination run wild.
  • Make your own placemats using leftover crayons. Crush the crayons by crushing them in a plastic bag. Sprinkle the pieces between two pieces of wax paper. Place the wax paper on several layers of newspaper and put one sheet of newspaper over top. With the iron set on a low setting (with no steam), iron the paper until the crayon is melted. Cool and it's ready for your table.
  • Don't toss the craft paper with only a few scribbles! Cut paper into small, uniform squares to make handy notepads to keep by the telephone or add a little colour to your shopping lists or notes to the family.
  • Feed the birds
    Kinder Art has dozens of upcycling art projects. Try this birdhouse from recycled household items.


  • Milk or juice carton
  • Stapler and staples
  • Masking tape
  • A soft cloth, rag or chamois
  • Brown shoe polish
  • Scissors or a knife
  • Twine
  • Instructions

  • Clean and dry the milk carton thoroughly.
  • Using a soft cloth, rub brown shoe polish all over the tape. This will give the carton a rough, bark-like finish.
  • Cut a hole about 4" above the bottom of the carton. The hole should be approximately 1" to 1 1/2" in diameter. This hole is for the birds to get in and out of the house.
  • Poke a few drainage holes in the bottom of the carton and two ventilation holes in the top of the carton.
  • Poke a hole through the top of the feeder, string a piece of twine through the hole and hang your feeder on a tree.