Recycling projects while I push a cart??? With what storage space?? How would I begin collecting materials? How would I manage those materials with a cart and/or traveling?
These are just some of the questions I've heard asked by traveling art teachers and teachers with a cart.
It is possible to create projects out of recycled materials, and promote Earth Day at the same time. We may not be able to handle full-on large scale amazing sculptures, but we can still get the message across to reduce, reuse, and recycle!
Design your lesson. What project did you want to make with recycled materials? Are you combining the project with Earth Day, or promoting using recycled materials to create year round? Think about what materials are easy to collect, or use materials that have been donated to you. Bottle caps make great murals, and they also make great bugs for Spring projects.
Angry Birds made with toilet paper tubes!
Butterflies made with coffee filters
Eric Carl Inspired Caterpillars made with egg cartons
DeBuffet Inspired Sculptures made with pantyhose wire, and styrofoam
Time out when you want to have your project. Is your project based on a season of the year? Think about where to place your project with the art curriculum. Murals could last all year, so you can send out a letter at the end of the previous school year asking parents to collect colorful bottle caps for a fall mural. Or...collect the caps at the end of winter for some Spring bugs. Coffee filters are also great all year, and most used in Spring for the butterfly projects!
Figure out how to collect the materials for your project. If you plan far enough ahead, you can have letters send home to parents asking for materials, such as paper towel tubes, newspaper, paper plates, coffee filters, washed out containers, 2-liter bottles, or more! In the beginning of the school year, I ask for materials I know I use in abundance: paper plates and bowls, tablecloths, q-tips, and the typical baby wipes and kleenex ration. Paper plates are used for projects, paint,and printmaking, and you can find them stacked in corners around my room for half a year. The last thing I care about is aesthetic quality, as long as I have those materials!
One of the biggest issues to face though is storage of collected materials. If you lack storage on your own, consider ways to collect materials that will work for you, such as collecting smaller materials. Coffee filters, cloth pins, toilet paper rolls, bottle caps, or any smaller objects work best in situations with little storage.
If you have the space for it, 2-liter bottles are good for many sculptural lessons, such as paper mache animals, Chihuly glass towers, and more. Since most teachers are limited on their space, it would be wise to send out letters to the parents of students who wish to participate in an after school activity, or choose an entire grade level...depending on the size of your sculpture.
So you're looking at the above picture and saying, "I don't have the space to do that," I hear you. Consider it an after school activity, and find a co-worker willing to share their space with you to make it happen. I was able to, and with a full hour after school to work, it was much easier to set up and clean up than having an over-crowded 40 minute class on the cart.
Work with the space you have. If you push a cart and lack the time for anything large, work small. There are a few projects I enjoy every year, and one of them is Kindergarten's Chihuly Paper Sculptures. It's been passing around on Pinterest all year, and I know quite a few teachers with no budgets who enjoy this project as well. All you need is coffee filters, markers, spray starch, tape, and plastic cups. I printed out pictures of Dale Chihuly’s glass flower sculptures, talked about how glass is fragile, and explained how the students will make their own sculptures with paper. Have a coffee filter already colored to show them how much the filter should be colored, and spray the filter over a plastic cup to have students watch the colors blend together (the tape is to mark the students names on the cup so they can be re-used for other classes). It’s a neat, one day/40 minute lesson that the kids love, and the kids take them home the next day. It’s easy because it is affordable, takes up less space, and the teachers love it. It’s also easy because you’re pulling out fewer materials on a cart, and teachers can let the cups dry in their own classrooms.
Figure out how to promote your student's work! Without spending all that time decorating the hallways and re-taping projects that constantly fall down, figure of a way for your students to be involved. You can have students sell their work as a fundraiser (buttons, magnets, bookmarks, etc...). If you have a bulletin board, display your work using staples or push pins to hold the work up longer. Did your students create classroom murals? Have the class display the mural outside of their classroom doors!
Here are some great recycled projects I have found that I would like to share (besides the links I have posted above). If you find a project that you enjoy (and can be managed while traveling or on a cart), please share it in the comments!
Kindergarten: Fish made out of used CDs
Kindergarten: Eric Carl Inspired Caterpillars made with egg cartons
1st Grade: Buggy Mobiles with egg cartons
Family Fun Crafts: Site with lots of recycled projects
Giacometti Inspired Sculptures with aluminum foil
Skeleton with coffins (using used watercolor containers)
Masks made with lunch tray containers
Multicultural Milk Jug Masks
Donut Sculpture with Wayne Theibaud (newspaper)
Pour Paintings (to use with leftover paint)
What to do with leftover paper scraps
Painted Aluminum Cans