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5 fun sustainable crafts to try before the kids go back to school

Children and an adult crafting using paper and drawing pencils.
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Are you looking for unique and engaging activities to keep your children entertained for the last few weeks of the summer holidays? 

You're in the right place. We've put together a great selection of ideas for low-cost sustainable crafts that you can enjoy creating together with your kids. 

All the crafts we've suggested are kind to the environment, so you can enjoy getting crafty with complete peace of mind. 

Mix it up and get creative with salt dough

Crafting different objects with salt dough is a great way to help kids explore their creativity and make something they can keep forever. 

But one of the best things about making salt dough is that it is easy, fun and cheap. You probably already have all the ingredients you need in your cupboard!

To get started with one of our favourite sustainable crafts:

  • Mix 500g of flour with 250g of table salt and 250ml of water.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl until you have a smooth dough ball with no lumps. 
  • Lightly dust a work surface with flour and use this surface to create your dough models.
  • Let your imagination run free! But remember that simple designs are often the best, and the larger you make your model, the longer it will take to bake and harden. 
  • When your models are ready, place them on a baking sheet in the oven at a low setting (around 120°C) and bake for approximately 2 hours. 

When the salt dough models come out of the oven, make sure you give them a chance to fully cool down before you have fun painting them together. 

Capture your child's memories of summer with a memory jar

Memory jars are a great sustainable craft project that helps kids to capture and remember their favourite memories. 

You can create a memory jar with your child by following these simple steps: 

  • Find a glass jar that's the right size for your project. We'd recommend a 1-litre pot if you think your child might want to add bulky items.
  • Ensure the jar is clean and dry before your children fill it with their favourite summer memories. 
  • Encourage your child to add things to the jar that remind them of unique places, people you've visited, or something you have done together over the summer. Ideas might include: 
  • Photos of the summer
  • Tickets/ticket stubs from theme parks or events
  • Memories are written on a piece of paper
  • Small toys or mementoes. 
  • Objects made of salt dough (see idea 1!) 

Once you have added your children's favourite items to the memory jar, seal it up with some tape and keep it somewhere safe. You ideally want to keep it somewhere that both you and your child can see and be reminded of the fun you had in Summer 2022.

Practice patience and focus by creating origami animals

Red and white flower origami bird animals.

Origami is the art of folding paper into different shapes. It's been around for centuries and is one of the most popular childhood pastimes and sustainable crafts in Japan. 

Origami is a great activity for kids. It's a fun way to encourage their creativity and practice life skills like patience and focus. It's also easy on the wallet and the environment. 

Some people prefer using specialist origami paper, but it's really not necessary for beginners - you can recycle old sheets of printer paper to make this a sustainable crafting activity. 

There are origami projects to suit all skill levels. 

Some good starting projects to complete alongside your child might include: 

Encourage your child's inner artist with rock painting

Children drawings on rocks and pebbles at the beach.

We couldn't put together a list of sustainable crafts without including rock painting. Rock painting is an easy and fun way to get kids excited about art. It's also a great way for them to practice their fine motor skills and learn about colours, shapes, and textures.

Please don't be tempted to try and find rocks to paint from your local beach or natural park. Not many people know this, but it's actually illegal to remove rocks and sand from beaches under the Coastal Protection Act 1949, and it's not ideal for the environment.

But it's easy enough to get hold of rocks that are ideal for painting. Many crafting websites sell bags of rocks and pebbles that are ideal for painting at a budget-friendly price. 

When it comes to deciding how to paint and decorate your rocks, it's a great opportunity to encourage your children to be creative. Perhaps they want to turn their rock into an animal? Or their favourite superhero? Maybe they want to write a special message on their rock or create something based on their favourite TV show? The possibilities are endless! 

Some people might recommend acrylic paints for rock painting, but they aren't the most environmentally friendly option. Instead, consider water-based paint pens. Not only are water-based paints better for the environment, but the pen can also give your little ones more control over what they are creating. 

Create a collage using recycled magazines

Magazine collages are one of our favourite recycled crafts. They can really brighten up your home and bring new life to your old magazines. 

All you'll need to get started is a sturdy piece of card as your canvas, some scissors, glue and some old magazines. 

Carefully cut the magazines into small pieces. It's great to get a variety of different colours and shapes. 

Next, decide what you and your little ones want to create on your canvas, and draw a faint outline. Then it's time to get creative by sticking different pieces of your magazine to create your collage. 

When you're finished, you'll have a unique piece of art built from recycled materials! 

Feeling stuck? You can always rely on jigsaws and board games

Children playing the Quirk family card game on the floor with cushions.

If sustainable crafts aren't capturing the imagination of your little one, and you want something low-cost and environmentally friendly to do together—you can always rely on jigsaw puzzles and board games. 

Jigsaw puzzles are a great way to teach kids how to think critically, problem solve and organise their thoughts. Take a look at our Little Gibsons range of jigsaw puzzles designed specifically for children. We've also got a wide range of children's board games that are ideal for playing as a family. 

Share the love!

Have you got any recommendations for recycled crafts and activities for children? Let us know in the comments.

If you've tried any of the ideas for sustainable crafts in this post and want to show off the results, we'd love to see them! Tag us in your social posts to share your photos with the Gibsons team. 

Twitter: @Gibsons_puzzles

Instagram: @gibsons_puzzles

TikTok: @gibsons_puzzles


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