Summer Camp Recycled Crafts

Courtney Rubin

This article, entitled Summer Camp Recycled Crafts comes from Courtney Rubin at partner site Embracing the Insanity.

I have been MIA for the last two weeks or so thanks to my exhausting job as an assistant arts and crafts teacher at a local camp.

I’m happy to report that the kids, including older boys, loved the crafts – many of which came from the ideas y’all sent me earlier this year – and I really wanted to share them with you because if I was able to help kids accomplish these projects (in the midst of dealing with inept babysitters for Big Trouble), ANYONE can do it and it might give you some cool projects to attempt during the long Summer months when moms can start going crazy!

Get ready for a huge photo dump (which is why this will be in 2 parts). Disclaimer – the photos aren’t fantastic because I was frantically trying to remember to catch the finished projects with my lousy phone in between cleaning up and helping kids, but you’ll still get the gist.

Button Bowls

(I did a separate post about these when I was testing it out at home if you want directions, but it’s super easy, only slightly messy – unless you are doing it with 10 kids at camp – and only involves a balloon, buttons and glue/mod podge)!

Yarn Wine Bottle Vase

We used empty wine bottles, a bit of yarn, and glue to create beautifully unique vases which were used as centerpieces for a luncheon on the last day of camp. (We also had the kids make tissue paper flowers to put in them but of course I forgot to take a picture of those). This was a great project for the older kids, 3rd grade and up, because after we tied the top part of the ribbon onto the lip of the bottle, they just painted small portions with glue and started wrapping the yarn. Occasionally, the yarn would slide down, but it was very easy to just push it back up tightly, even if you decided to use different color yarns and had to tie on another piece.

Toilet Paper Roll Owl

Since owls have been on trend recently, we made cute owls out of toilet paper rolls, leaves, feathers, markers, googly eyes and a few other crafty odds and ends.

VHS Pencil/Treasure Boxes

When looking around for “green” art supplies, we came across a small store that had a stash of old, clear VHS tape boxes. We thought they would be perfect and easy for the kids to decorate as a “if I finish early” project.

Matisse-inspired Name Art

In my original recycled crafts blog, one of my art teacher friends offered this idea as she had done it with some of her older students in her class this year. We loved this inspiration, but some of the kids were too small to be able to cut cool letters out of paper so we tweaked the idea a little and wrote each kid’s name on a thick mat board and gave them numerous craft supplies (such as broken crayons, pom poms, buttons, beads, feathers, googly eyes, tissue paper, confetti, etc.) to be used to create their own special work of art.

Tile Trivets

This was another time filler project, but the kids really enjoyed it and many of them made them as gifts for Father’s Day. We just purchased tiles in bulk from Home Depot and let the kids decorate them with Sharpies. Then, when they were finished, we applied a light sealant over them so that the artwork won’t come off if they have to wash them. We also added a few small squares of foam squares to the bottom to make sure they wouldn’t scratch any tables or countertops.


This craft should look very familiar to most of you because it has been around for a long time. We purchased some inexpensive plastic looms from Hobby Lobby and ordered the already cut pieces of stretchy fabric for the kids to weave potholders out of. This wasn’t particularly “green” but the original idea was to use old tshirts and socks, cut in the same fashion as the strips we bought, to create the potholders. We ran out of prep time, but that is definitely a way to create a “green” potholder!

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