50 Fun Earth Day Crafts and Activities Using Upcycled Materials

Earth Day is fast approaching (April 22), though there really is never a bad time to celebrate Mother Earth. It’s important to teach students the environmental benefits of recycling, like conserving energy and natural resources and reducing air and water pollution, all year long. While recycling breaks down old items in order to create something new, upcyling makes something new from an existing object in its current state. Challenge your students to create something unique and wonderful from preexisting items like magazines, plastic water bottles, tin cans, egg cartons, and more. Check out our list of the best recycled crafts for Earth Day or any day, and give some of them a try!

We Are Teachers

1. Make wildflower seed bombs

Give back to Mother Earth with these easy-to-make seed bombs. Blend together used scraps of construction paper, water, and wildflower seeds in a food processor, then form them into tiny muffins. Let them dry, then toss them in the ground. As the seed bombs receive sun and rain, the paper will eventually compost and the seeds will germinate.

Learn more: Learn How To Make Seed Bombs

A young girl makes a nature wreath
Fun With Kids at Home

2. Put together nature wreaths

Take your kids on a nature walk to gather interesting leaves, flowers, berries, and the like. To make the wreath forms, braid together strips of old T-shirts and form them into a circle. Then attach natural items into the crevices and secure with clear fishing line or hot glue. Attach a ribbon at the top to hang your wreath.

Learn more: Kid-Made Nature Wreath

A bug hotel made from bundles of natural materials as an example of Earth Day crafts
Red Ted Art

3. Construct a bug hotel

Create a cozy place for all the creepy-crawlies to hang out. Cut a two-liter plastic bottle into two cylinders, then stuff it with sticks, pine cones, bark, or any other natural material. Make sure to pack the organic material tightly. Then loop a piece of twine or yarn around the two cylinders and hang your bug hotel from a tree branch or fence.

Learn more: Simple Bug Hotel for Kids

A colorful patchwork quilt as an example of Earth Day crafts
Student Savvy

4. Make a quilt

Textiles make up a huge portion of municipal solid waste—over 16 million tons per year. Teach your kids to repurpose old material that would otherwise end up in the landfill by putting together a cozy quilt.

Learn more: Create a Classroom Quilt

Bowls made from coils or rolled magazine strips as an example of Earth Day crafts

5. Use magazines to create a bowl

We love Earth Day crafts that result in a practical object you can use around the house. This project is best for older students who have the patience and dexterity necessary to carefully roll their magazine strips and glue them together.

Learn more: Easy DIY Magazine Bowls

A model of the Earth made from moss and yarn
Mother Natured

6. Create a planet Earth craft

Pay tribute to our lovely planet on Earth Day with these fuzzy moss balls. Kids who love getting their hands dirty will particularly love this craft. All you do is squish pre-soaked sphagnum moss into a tight ball, wrap it tightly with blue yarn or strips of discarded T-shirts, layer more moss and more yarn, etc., until you’ve created an Earth-shaped orb. Finish with a loop of yarn and hang it in a sunny window. To keep your moss ball healthy, simply spray it with water every couple of days.

Learn more: DIY Earth Moss Ball

7. Plant a hanging garden

Large plastic bottles become beautiful hanging planters in this green-living, green-thumb project. A great way to make a gorgeous hanging garden.

Learn more: DIY Recycled Hanging Planter

A colorful collection of flowers made from recycled papers
We Are Teachers

8. Upcycle trash into flower art

Scraps of paper are the only supplies you need for this recycled-flower-garden activity and lesson. The measurement and math element is an added bonus.

Learn more: Fun Earth Day Recycled Garden Activity

An adorable tree made from a painted trunk with egg carton sections painted green as the leaves
Glued to My Crafts

9. “Grow” an egg carton tree

Save those egg cartons! This simple project only requires a few supplies to make a recycled egg carton tree.

Learn more: Recycled Egg Carton Tree

A pair of binoculars made from paper towel rolls  painted in cheetah spots and a string
Today’s Parent

10. Repurpose paper towel rolls into binoculars

Save those paper rolls so your class can customize their own binoculars! Have a variety of paints, stickers, and the like on hand so your students can really personalize their bird-watchers.

Learn more: Paper Roll Binoculars

A tire painted blue with a blue floral cushion in the middle makes a handy seat
Hanging With Mrs. Hulsey

11. Construct your own flexible seating

One of our favorite Earth Day crafts has to be upcycling tires into comfy seating for our reading nook.

Learn more: DIY Tire Seats

12. Fashion a pop-top bracelet

Aluminum beverage pop-tops become wearable jewelry thanks to some ninja ribbon work. Show this video on your interactive whiteboard to give your students the full 411, and then get crafting!

Learn more: Pop Tab Bracelets

A recycled jar lid is transformed into a wind chime craft
Hands On as We Grow

13. Create colorful suncatchers / wind chimes

Go outside for a nature walk and gather sticks, weeds, and pickable blooms, then bring the treasures inside to be showcased in recycled jar lids. With some wax paper and string, your students can craft this surprisingly beautiful recycled wind chime.

Learn more: Homemade Nature Suncatcher Wind Chimes

A paper bag is transformed into a colorful work of art
Small for Big

14. Make recycled crafts from paper bags

Brown paper bags become eco-canvases for artwork and a perfect way to adorn fridges for Earth Day. Bonus points if you can source handled bags because the handles serve as built-in artwork hangers.

Learn more: Paper Bag Paintings

Paper towel rolls and other pieces of paper are used to make brightly colored buildings and houses.
Today’s Parent
An arrangement of pebbles and sticks creates a picture of a swing on a tree
How Wee Learn

16. Create pebble art

Take students outside to collect small rocks and pebbles. Have them arrange the rocks into a pattern of their choice. Get creative, and try for as many different designs as you can!

Learn more: DIY Pebble Art Tutorial

Hockey puck-shaped crayons made from recycled blue and green crayons
The Gunny Sack

17. Use old crayons to make Earth Day crayons

This isn’t just any recycled crayon—it’s a gorgeous Earth crayon! You can make these with your kids using a muffin tin. You just need to sort out the right colors.

Learn more: Earth Crayons

A cardboard box painted yellow is converted into a maze using painted wooden bits
Hello, Wonderful

18. Use upcycled objects to make mazes

STEM and recycling go together wonderfully! This idea is a great way to challenge kids to make mazes or something else entirely.

Learn more: Kid-Made DIY Recycled Cardboard Marble Maze

A toy snake made from sisal rope wrapped with stripes of colored duct tape
Project Kid

19. Make a rope snake

Recycling projects that use objects you may have lying around your garage or shed are some of our favorites. Grab that old rope you’ve been saving and create these adorable rope worms/snakes with your students.

Learn more: DIY Rope Snake Craft

20. Feed the birds

Herald spring with this easy crowd-pleaser: the large plastic bottle bird feeder. This short video will teach kids how to get started constructing their feeders.

Learn more: How To Make a Birdfeeder From a Bottle

A colorful school supply caddy is built from recycled cans
Sandy Toes and Popsicles

21. Get organized with old cans

Tin cans are easy to get your hands on, and they can go a long way in organizing supplies. Get your kids involved by having them help decorate the cans. They’ll really take ownership of this, which will hopefully inspire them to keep supplies more organized.

Learn more: Homework Supply Caddy

Pots made from colorful scraps of paper with papier mache
Childhood 101

22. Make papier-mâché pots

Cut off the bottoms of beverage bottles or reuse food containers and jazz them up with bright-colored paper scraps. Except for the glue, these papier-mâché planters are composed solely of recycled materials.

Learn more: Papier Mache Pots

Two necklaces are made from found objects.
The Awesome Childhood Project

23. Make a necklace out of found items

Earth Day art that is wearable is a bonus! Use found objects or some string to create these unique necklaces.

Learn more: Recycled Cardboard Art Necklaces

24. Make chair fidgets out of old tees

Give old T-shirts new life with this craft by making chair fidgets. This uses a simple braiding technique, and your kids will love helping out.

Learn more: Make Your Own Chair Fidget

25. Collaborate on an aluminum can recycling bin

Kids can work together to create an aluminum-can recycling center. Watch the video to get the simple instructions and learn how your school can make recycling fun and rewarding.

Learn more: DIY Recycling Station From Aluminum Cans

Two robots are constructed from tin cans and other found objects as an example of Earth Day crafts
Creative Jewish Mom

26. Build tin can robots

Recycling projects like these are the best since kids love robots. Be sure to have an extra pair of adult hands around to help with the hot glue for these Earth Day crafts.

Learn more: Tin Can Robot

Fairy houses made from plastic bottles
Crafts by Amanda

27. Fashion fairy house night-lights

Are these the sweetest Earth Day crafts ever? Plastic bottles from home become homes for fairies, thanks to paint, scissors, glue, and real or faux greenery.

Learn more: Fairy House Night-Lights

A colorful art wall created from recycled materials like cardboard, egg cartons, paper towel tubes and craft sticks
Art Bar

28. Create a giant upcycled art wall

This is an amazing recycled wall masterpiece. You could set it up on a cardboard backing and then let students add to it, paint it, and create with it whenever they have free time throughout the day.

Learn more: Recycled Materials Art Wall

An on the go tic tac toe kit stored in a burlap bag
Reuse Grow Enjoy

29. Make your own games

Use bottle caps in a game of tic-tac-toe. They can also be turned into checkers. This would be a great makerspace activity. Give your kids several upcycled items and challenge them to create games with them.

Source: Tic-Tac-Toe on the Go

A bottle cap is filled with beads and gems.

30. Make a treasure magnet

These treasure magnets are just so beautiful! Recycle a bottle cap, and glue a variety of gemstones and beads inside. Then add a magnet to the back.

Learn more: Treasure Magnet

A colorful potted plant picture made from strips of recycled paper
Suzy’s Artsy-Craftsy Sitcom

31. Turn old magazines into art

We love how this upcycled magazine cut-paper art project can be modified for primary students or used to inspire sophisticated art by high school students.

Learn more: Cut Paper Art

A lovely terrarium is made from a Coke bottle
Adirondack Girl @ Heart

32. Build a beautiful DIY terrarium

A bottle gets a second life as a museum-worthy terrarium as well as a home for an environmental science project. Be sure to add the activated charcoal and moss for plastic bottle terrariums that flourish.

Learn more: Coke Bottle Terrarium

Several paintings of trees and flowers, etc. are shown. They are stamped with a cork dipped in paint.
30 Seconds

33. Paint with corks

This is the perfect kind of Earth Day art since you use recycled material (corks) to paint your favorite scene from nature.

Learn more: Cork Painting Activity for Kids

Three plants are planted inside clear plastic water bottles as an example of earth day crafts

34. Set up some self-watering planters

Your classroom studies of plant life, photosynthesis, and water conservation will get a boost with this hands-on crafting of a self-watering planter. The base? A good ol’ large plastic bottle.

Learn more: DIY Self-Watering Planters

35. Form flowers from water bottles

Create these stunning flowers from plastic bottles and water-based paint markers. String them together for a colorful garland for your classroom.

Learn more: DIY Eco Pledge Flower

Children work together to build a castle from recycled cardboard materials

36. Build cardboard castles

Gather all your recyclables and put those tiny engineers to work. You’ll be amazed by what they create!

Learn more: Recycled Castle Art Project

An owl made from recycled newspaper

37. Make these newspaper owls

Old newspapers find their spirit animal when they become recycled newspaper owls. All you need are markers, watercolors, and paper scraps to make them come alive.

Learn more: Colorful Newspaper Owl Craft

38. Construct a plastic bottle recycling bin

Water bottles come together, as do your kids, to make this water bottle recycling center. This project combines teamwork with respect for our environment, a double win.

Learn more: DIY Recycling Station From Plastic Bottles

A television set made from cardboard as an example of Earth Day crafts
Let Grow

39. Let your imagination run wild with cardboard

Cardboard is one of the easiest, least expensive materials you can get your hands on. Grab a ton of it and challenge your kids to make awesome creations. You never know what they might come up with.

Learn more: Make Your Own Cardboard TV

40. Make a musical instrument

There are no limits to the recycling projects you can create using cardboard. This DIY instrument will teach kids about vibrations and sound.

Learn more: Cardboard Flute

CDs are painted neon colors. A marker is stuck through the hole in the middle as an example of earth day crafts
Artsy Momma

41. Create a spinning top

Do you have a bunch of CDs lying around that never get played anymore? How about a box or drawer of markers that barely write? If you answered yes to these questions, then this is the perfect project for you.

Learn more: Recycled CD Spinning Tops

Several bottle caps painted different colors with black dots on them to look like lady bugs. They also have googly eyes.
Love and Lollipops

42. Fashion lady bugs from bottle caps

These little ladybugs are so cute and yet so, so simple. Grab some bottle caps, paint, googly eyes, and glue and get ready to make some adorable friends!

Learn more: Bottle Top Ladybugs

Beautiful watercolor blue and green planet Earths made from coffee filters as an example of Earth Day crafts
A Play-Filled Life

43. Create a coffee filter Earth

Simple to make and beautiful to display, these coffee filter Earths are a cinch. Simply color with blue and green markers, then squirt with a water bottle.

Learn more: Coffee Filter Earth Day Craft

Colorful strips of paper are laid next to one another to create Earth Day pictures
Art With Jenny K.

44. Create Earth Day agamographs

An agamograph is a piece of art created from strips of paper strung together. Choose an Earth Day theme and try your own!

Learn more: Earth Day Agamographs

45. Make DIY recycled plantable seed paper

Not only is it beautiful paper, it can be used to grow beautiful flowers!

Learn more: DIY Seeded Paper

Colorful goggles made from painted egg carton sections as an example of Earth Day crafts
Our Kid Things

46. Craft a pair of egg carton glasses

How creative is this egg carton craft for Earth Day? All you need is egg carton sections, pipe cleaners, scissors, and craft paint, and voilà! Superhero goggles.

Learn more: Egg Carton Superhero Goggles

A circular puzzle in the shape of planet Earth made from blue and green puzzle pieces
Sprouting Wild Ones

47. Put together an Earth Day mosaic puzzle

Create this colorful Earth-shaped puzzle using torn pieces of green and blue paper glued onto recycled cardboard puzzle cut-outs.

Learn more: Mosaic Earth Puzzles

48. Construct a papier-mâché globe

Most kids love the sloppy process of papier-mâché. Here, learn how to make a DIY globe with recycled paper that they can treasure forever.

Learn more: How To Make a Papier-Mâché Planet Earth

This simple Earth Day salt dough craft is fashioned into a medallion necklace
Little Bins for Little Hands

49. Make Earth Day salt dough crafts

Salt dough crafts are so much fun to celebrate Earth Day! Make these colorful medallions, then attach string. Your kids will wear their Earth Day pride for all to see.

Learn more: Earth Day Salt Dough Craft

An Earth Day discovery bottle filled with glue, water and colored marbles
Natural Beach Living

50. Mesmerize with DIY Earth Day discovery bottles

It’s amazing what a calming tool you can make with just glue and water inside of a recycled bottle.

Learn more: DIY Earth Day Sensory Bottles

What are your favorite things to do for Earth Day? Come share in our We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook!

Love spending time outside? Try these Fun Outdoor Science Activities.

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