Consider the following recycling ideas before tossing empty food containers into the garbage can. Recycling is not only great for the environment but it adds an element of imaginary play for toddlers as well. Stretch your child's imagination and challenge him to create a byproduct using clean recycled items. Imaginary play is good for kids and adults alike. Give yourself permission to make believe with your child after he turns the cereal box into a new action figure he now calls Robbie the Robot. Consider the possibilities. If you don't stop yourself on the way to the trashcan, you might find your child stopping you from tossing that empty spaghetti box.|
- Baby formula containers - If you have a baby in the house that is on powdered formula, recycle the cans. Rinse and pull off the paper. Adhere decorative scrapbook paper using hot glue around the can and trim the top and bottom of each can with decorative ribbon. Your child can pick out the paper, ribbon, and use crayons to add his/her personal touches. Then store pencils, chip clips, markers, crayons, scissors, ribbons, hair bows, small LEGO pieces, and other household items in the cans. Toss or keep the formula lids. Coffee containers can be utilized the same way if you are out of the baby stages.
- Food jars - Clean well and pull the paper off jars of spaghetti, pickles, olives, peaches, baby food jars, etc. Use the jars to store small items. Wrap ribbons/raffia around the jars to display fresh cut flowers. Your toddler can decorate the jars with stickers or pictures cut from magazines, or you can even use them to teach your child about the concept of volume given that you have jars of varied capacities.
- Cereal and pasta boxes -Throw out the plastic cereal bag from inside the cereal box. 1) Your toddler can cover the box with family photos, stickers, or craft paper. 2) Consider cutting a rectangle out of one side of the cereal box to create a frame. Discard the cutout piece. Then glue on different shapes of pasta around the remaining edge. Paint the glued on pasta and box. Inside the box place family pictures, draw a special picture to be displayed, etc. 3) Also, consider turning the box into a pretend aquarium. Cut a rectangle out of one side of the box. Discard the cutout piece. Cover the rectangle (on the box) with blue or green cellophane. Draw and insert an ocean scene for the background. Then draw, cut out, and hang fish with string from the box's lid. 4) Use construction paper to cover the box. Roll construction paper into tubes and glue edges together. Attach the tubes to the box to form arms and legs. Use a little imagination to create a head for your robot/doll.
- Brown paper bags - There are many things you can do with small brown lunch bags or large paper grocery bags. To get your child's imagination rolling, try one of these paper bag activities. 1) Make puppets. 2) Obtain twenty-six small paper bags. Label each bag with a different letter of the alphabet. Encourage your child to collect and place items into the bag that represents each letter. Keep the bags and use them again for ending letter sounds. 3) Obtain ten bags and label them from one to ten. Ask your child to line them up in number order and collect and place items into the bags to represent each of the ten numbers. 4) Create birthday and holiday decorations using bags. 5) Make a pumpkin. Color a bag orange, stuff it, and tie off the top with decorative raffia. You can make snowmen and apples using the same technique.