Scrap Material Project for Kids

BlogHer Original Post

Which parent among us hasn't scratched her head wondering what to do for a child's next birthday party, Scout meeting, or club activity? Here's a collection of simple projects that will spur kids' creative juices to flow, save you money as a host, and teach both the value and fun of repurposing.


All of these projects involve using parts from discarded ceiling fans, chandeliers, loose ceramic tiles, cabinet hardware, or other household items. So scour the clutter in your basement, closet, or attic; check out the freebies and broken items at garage sales; or look for bargains at resale stores.

Use your imagination, and don't be limited by the suggestions here. Add hot glue guns, plenty of glue sticks, and an adult per child or two, depending on their ages. Then let the kids' imaginations take over as they repurpose trash into treasure with any of these projects.

Ceiling Fan

Door Signs from Ceiling Fan Blades

These door nameplates were made by five-year-olds (with parental assistance) at a birthday party. Photo: Julia Wasson

This project can work for children as young as five with one adult per child. Older children and teens can do this on their own. You'll need the following materials:

  • One clean, dismantled ceiling fan blade per child
  • A hot glue gun, glue sticks, and power supply per child or two
  • A variety of decorative items to choose from: shells and small rocks; Scrabble letters or other game pieces; colored glue or water-based paints and paintbrushes; nuts, screws, nails, and bolts; colored ribbons and lace; and virtually any small thing you're willing to let the kids glue to their fan blades
  • Butcher paper or newspaper and tape to cover the work surface

1. In advance of the activity, an adult should remove all metal from the fan blades of one or more ceiling fans. Smooth blades without decoration work best for children's creativity to shine.

2. Give each child a clean fan blade and access to the assortment of small objects. Suggest that they decorate the fan blade or write their name on using the assorted objects you've provided.

3. Once they have designed their fan blade to their liking, heat up the glue gun. Older children can then glue their items on the fan blades. Adults should assist younger children to avoid burns. Press firmly to be sure the glue holds the items in place.

4. For vertically oriented designs, add a ribbon or string in the center hole at the top of the blade. For horizontal designs, either drill a hole at each end of the blade and attach a ribbon or string, or add one or two picture hangers to the back of the fan blade.


Candle Holders from Chandelier Flutes

A teen creates a simple garden candle by gluing a discarded chandelier flute to assorted tiles. Photo: Julia Wasson[/caption] This simple project is appropriate for ages 5 and up with supervision from an adult or older child. You'll need the following supplies per child:

  • A glass flute from a chandelier or other light fixture (be sure there is a flat surface on one end and an opening large enough to light a candle on the other)
  • One or more squares of ceramic tiles
  • Tiny ceramic tiles, glass beads, or other decorative items to add to the larger tile
  • A tea light candle or battery-powered candle
  • A hot glue gun and glue stick

1. Heat the glue gun and insert the glue stick.

2. Glue together two or more tiles, if desired.

3. Squirt a generous amount of hot glue on the narrow end of the glass flute (the opposite end from where a bulb would be inserted).

4. Quickly invert the flute and place it on top of the tile(s). Press down firmly to seat the flute into the glue.

5. Decorate the tile by gluing on other small nonflammable items.

6. After the glue dries completely (about 10 minutes), place a tea light or battery-powered candle into the base of the flute. Important: Be sure to caution children that only adults should light the candles. To avoid having the creation fall apart, have the child or adult pick up the finished garden candle by its base, rather than by the flute.


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