Monday, August 31, 2009

Reuse, Reuse, Reuse!!!

For our first lesson in the art room this year, all students talked about what it means to "Go Green." Each class came up with ways we can use the 3 r's - reduce, reuse and recycle - in the art room. 5th, 4th and 3rd grade students worked as groups at their tables to come up with ideas for how to reuse a variety of items in the art room. Here are some of the materials they had to use and the ideas they came up with!

These extra sponges from the hospital can be used to wipe tables, make stamps, or paint with; some even come on sticks like paintbrushes! The blue plastic bin they came in has different compartments that we can use to sort art materials. The old shirt can be ripped into rags to clean with, or cut into pieces to make a quilt!
We can reuse old marker and glue caps to replace lost or broken caps. We can also reuse them to build or add details to a sculpture! They can also be dipped into paint to make stamps! We are collecting caps like this and the kind from plastic bottles for a great art unit this year! (see the post below.)
Styrofoam trays can be used as paint pallets, printmaking plates, or supply trays. Styrofoam packing blocks can be used for building or can be carved away to make a sculpture! Some students thought they would make good texture stamps, too! Styrofoam cups can be used for paint water, or they can be used as a strong support inside a sculpture!

Cardboard from packaging material or boxes of food can be broken down and used as a surface for painting, or assembled to make a sculpture. Cardboard tubes from tape rolls could make funky jewelry, or they can be stacked together to make a pencil cup!

Paper plates can make great masks or paint pallets, as well as sturdy parts of a paper sculpture. Old packaging baggies can be used to store parts for a project - like small paper for a collage! Do you know how to paint by blowing through a straw? Straws can also be used for parts of sculptures - like legs for bugs! Aluminum tins could be a great place to put paper scraps at each table!
There were so many great ideas. I can tell already that these students are ready to get going on the road to Going Green!
What other materials do you think we could REUSE in the art room? Do you have any other thoughts about these materials? Share them with us in a comment!


  1. Glad to be the first to congratulate you for your efforts to Go Green in the Art Room!! This combination of creativity and practical application is bound to be a winner. You and the children are making the world a better place!

  2. I think you can reuse old glue bottles for paint bottles! open the cap, put paint in, put the cap on, and just squeeze away!

    Emily from Mrs.Sawyer's class

  3. Are you sure you are not a fly on the wall in my art room?:-) I have been teaching with recycled items for years. It is amazing how much fun and learning can go on with a pile of Styrofoam and cardboard! I teach art to primary age now, but even when I taught high school art I used recycled items. It is really teaching a wonderful lesson on taking care of our earth. Last years theme was's got ART and we had a blast creating from recyclables. Rain sticks from toilet paper rolls, now that's a wonderful project! I love reading your blog, your students are fortunate to have you to foster their creativity!