upcycling ideas

10 Upcycling Ideas For The Family

You’ve probably heard the phrase “every day is earth day” which I love. With kids, we have so many opportunities to teach them about Earth Day and the ways we can care for our Earth. One way we can teach kids is through upcycling!

We love upcycling!  Upcycling, also known as “creative reuse” is what kids do best.  Give my kids an empty box and they will transform it and play for hours.

We are sharing some ways you can upcycle this year.

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The 4 R’s

The 4 R’s is a fun quick lesson you can do at home with your kids.  You talk about the 4 R’s (below) and you can even include some hands-on activities to learn more.

Reduce: To lessen

Explain to your kids that one of the best things we can do for the earth is to buy products that have less packaging so that we reduce the amount of waste we create in the first place.

Reuse: To use again

Some products are easier to reuse than others. Take a look at several single-use items and reusable items and decided which would be better for the Earth.

Make a list of items together that you have in your home that are single-use or reusable.  Maybe even make a list of things you can swap for reusable items.

Recycle: Change waste into a usable material again.

Take time to talk about which items can/can’t be recycled.

Do a hands-on activity by giving them a pile of trash and have them sort out what is recyclable and what’s not.

Renew: Make something new, fresh, or strong again.

Discuss how you can’t just take from the earth and not give back.  Plant something together or if you can have an outdoor garden this year! If you don’t have space I recommend starting with a tomato plant!

Upcycling Ideas

Bird House Craft

This was a fun craft that my 8-year-old loved completing.  We drink milk in a  ½ gallon so we had some empty ones on hand.  My 8-year-old loved doing this birdhouse together!

Items Needed:


  1. Clean and dry your empty milk carton.
  2. Spray paint the outside and let dry completely
  3. Trace a circle about 2 inches in diameter near the center bottom for the birdhouse hole
  4. Cut out the door
  5. Paint the birdhouse (can also use stickers)
  6. Cut x below the door for the twig porch
  7. Place the twig through the X and secure with hot glue
  8. Cut 2 small holes at the top for the hanger.
  9. Use string or twine to
  10. Spray with waterproof sealant.

Hang the birdhouse and enjoy!

Toilet Paper Rolls for Crafts & Stem Activities

tp crafts

So many things you can use toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls for.  The amount of crafts my kids do with these is crazy.  They love to make them into binoculars, paint them, or just create their own creation out of them.

You can also tape them on the wall to create an awesome stem activity.  Our contributor Angie shared the idea here.

Plastic Easter Eggs

Easter just passed and we all have a ton of plastic eggs laying around!  These can be used for so many educational uses!

  • Alphabet – Write the upper case on the top half and the lower case letter on the bottom.  Have the kids match them!
  • Antaonyn Eggs- Write opposites on each half.
  • Number or Math Eggs – Use for counting and identifying numbers or for math solving games
  • Compound words
  • Color sorting

Kids can also do so many crafts with plastic eggs.  You can turn the eggs into maracas! Simply fill the eggs with beans tape them up and make some music.

box upcycle


We  love upcycling boxes! My kids are obsessed with them.  Our  favorite ideas are below.

DIY Postcards

We all have an amazon box or 2 lying around.  Cut out a 4×6 piece of cardboard and have your littles decorate one side and write on the other side.


Cut out different sizes and let the kids use them as a canvas for coloring, stickers, and even painting!

Free Play

Just give a kid a large empty box and they will create so many things.  Cars, robots, hiding spots! I love letting their imagination go wild!

Empty Containers

Take an empty creamer or yogurt container and wash and dry them.  These are great to use as portable snack containers.  Fill with goldfish, trail mix, pretzels, or even cereal!

Pill Bottle

You can reuse your prescription bottles to hold Qtips, bandaids, or even toothpicks! Store in your car or in your purse.

Galloon Milk Jug

A common use for empty galloon milk is the watering can.  You simply clean and dry the galloon poke small holes in the lid and boom!

Your kids will love helping you water all of the plants this Spring and Summer.

Wipe Container

Most of us have empty plastic wipe containers laying around somewhere.  These are great to hold those grocery store bags for the car.

Egg Cartons

Did you know that you can reuse these for seed starters?  Yes, they are great! If you have cardboard you can plant them directly into the planter bed.

Upcycling Fun

There are so many more ways your family can participate in upcycling.  These are just some of our favorites.  Let us know what you decide to try!


Kacey Queen is a co-founder of Nevada Moms

Kacey received her bachelor's in Psychology while cheering for the University of Oregon. They moved to Reno in 2014 and have loved it ever since. She is a dedicated homeschooling mother to her three children.

She serves on the board for Northern Nevada Health Systems, and Northern Nevada Sports and Recreation, and she is passionate about her community.

Kacey loves exploring with her family and finding family-friendly events and activities! A few of her favorite things include family adventures, exploring the outdoors, working out, local coffee shops, and dessert!