12 ways to be creative with materials you already have

I love junk! Hubby has learned to always ask if it’s art or trash before heading out with the garbage. While there are definitely special items that catch my eye from time to time, we do have our favorites. These four items go straight into our recycle box every time. Do you have a favorite material? Or a different ways of being creative with one of these? Let us know in the comments!

 12 ways to be creative with materials you already have

Ways to be creative with…

Egg Cartons

  • Use them to hold small amounts of paint. I like to cut them in half long way so that 6 colors can sit side by side. The curved edges make a great place to prop up a paintbrush.
  • The base for a light house perhaps? (This one holds the goodies that make the light turn on — all Big M’s doing.)
  • Paint them and create an egg carton game!

Cereal Boxes

The boxes that hold cereal, granola bars and crackers are probably the most used material in our recycle box. While the cardboard is thin and easy to work with, it offers a far more sturdy surface than paper. Break them down, rip them up or leave them whole!

  • Use the cardboard to make templates for tracing. (Better yet, have the kids use the cardboard to make templates for tracing!)
  • Make a simple frame artwork or use it as a backing to make artwork sturdy.
  • Make a pretend play grocery store.

12 ways to be creative with materials you already have

Toilet Paper Rolls

  • Make binoculars for a backyard explorer kit.
  • Turn them into a marble run. Big M loves to cut them in half and tape them to cereal boxes. Along with a couple of paper towel rolls he has himself some marble rolling fun!
  • Create simple noise makers by filling the roll with rice or beans. Cap the ends with wax paper and rubber bands.

12 ways to be creative with materials you already have


While yarn isn’t something you would throw out, it’s really easy to find at yard sales and thrift stores. So I tend to stock up!

  • Use an entire ball of yarn to cover the house with a maze or a giant spider web or spy lazers. (Yes these examples are from experience.)
  • Make spider webs.
  • Paint with yarn.

By providing the materials you are setting the stage for your kids to get creative. Set out these four materials… and see what your creative kids come up with! 


  1. I think my husband thinks I’m crazy for all the toilet paper rolls we have stashed around the house! I don’t use them “all” the time with Chiquita but they can be big people crafts too! I’ve made two grown up decor projects now with cut rings of tp tubes and they look good 🙂

    We just happen to have done an egg carton craft recently too!

  2. I always save plastic cups from yogurt or applesauce and any plastic lids to use for paint (we are vegan, so we don’t have egg cartons, but they are very handy to re-use!). 🙂 I also have three crates full of other materials such as Pringles cans, tofu tubs, jars, toilet paper and paper towel tubes, and other miscellaneous re-purposeable items. 😀

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