Give kids something fun to do that will encourage creativity by turning the contents of your recycling bin into an invention kit!

Like most parents, I am always on the lookout for fun (and frugal) ways to keep the kids happily entertained. We put together an Invention Kit a couple of years ago, and it has been our go-to source for free craft and learning supplies ever since! To make your own, you will need to gather up some items — many of which you may already have on-hand. Below is a list of items to consider including in your kit, and the kids can help find these from around the house:

Suggested Items for Your Invention Kit

Milk Cartons
Cereal Boxes
Egg Cartons
Oatmeal Canisters
Mint Tins
Cardboard Tubes (Toilet Paper and/or Paper Towels)
Shoe Boxes
Cans and Jars
Yogurt Containers
Plastic Salad Containers
Newspapers and Magazines
Foam Trays
Plastic Netting from Produce Bags
Paper Bags

Place some or all of these items in a large cardboard box, and let the kids have fun decorating their Invention Kit. Whenever they are itching for something to do, bring out the kit and get creative!

Check out these fun lanterns made from glass jars and scrap paper.

An Invention Kit can be a great tool to promote the development of early creative problem solving skills, and it helps to instill the early habits of recycling! Pick an item from the kit and ask the kids how many different uses they can think of for that item. A cardboard tube could be used to build a marble run, made into a pretend telescope, or crafted into a tower for Rapunzel, for instance. An empty mint tin could store items for a small first-aid kit, or turned into a house for a set of small magnetic dolls. There are so many possibilities — and it’s FUN!

How To: Turn the Contents of Your Recycling Bin into an Invention Kit

What do you do with your recycled items?