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Recycled Materials in the Art Room

August 27, 2023 No Comments

My art program runs on a shoestring budget. I offer painting, collage, fiber arts, no-bake clay and drawing in my choice-based K-5 classroom…. but our most beloved center is “Three-Dimensional Design” where young budding artists use their imaginations to build sculptures and create other “inventions”.

At the start of each school year, I gather materials from a variety of sources. Including:

  • Posting requested items on my local Facebook Community Page
  • Visiting a creative reuse center (when possible)
  • Sending home a note to families with requested items

Social Media

Social media can be a valuable resource for communicating your material needs. I use Facebook, but I would think other venues may be just as useful. I started by searching for my local “swap shop” and found one in my town. People are always willing to help out a teacher/students in need. I have received many items such as: beads, craft storage, decorative papers and yarn. For me, this concept started years ago when I discovered “freecycle”. It is a nonprofit network for giving and receiving items that are no longer needed.

I have included a link to their website below:

FREECYCLE Web page

Reuse Centers

I LOVE scouring reuse centers. Unfortunately, since the pandemic these centers are few and far between. However, some still do exist. I have included a link below for the Reusable Resources Association. I’m not sure how up to date this site is, so PLEASE be sure check individual websites first. A web search for “creative reuse centers” may also help you find places near you that are not on the list.

Reusable Resources Association

Send a Note Home!

At open house I have a stack of “requested recycled items” for those who want to help out. It does not cost money to donate, as all of the items are either recyclables or things that may no longer be used at home. This list can also be included in the school’s newsletter/website or sent home with each student. I have included my downloadable requested items list below. It is broken down into categories: Collage, Fiber, Sculpture and Miscellaneous.

Free Download Requested Recycled Items:

Below are some of my students’ creations from our “3D Design Center”. I am always amazed by what they create with recycled items! FROM TRASH TO TREASURE!!!

Lion – Embellished plastic lid, 1st Gr. Artist
Girl with the Pink Hair - Cardboard Scraps, 1st Gr. Artist

Girl with the Pink Hair – Cardboard scraps, 1st Gr. Artist

Crocodile – Cardboard shoe horns, 4th Gr. Artist

Butterfly Garden – Detergent cap and other found objects, 4th Gr. Artist

Happy Meal – Plastic containers, shoebox and other found objects, 3rd Grade Artists
Lisa Blanchette

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Welcome to my blog! I’ve been an art teacher for over 20 years and have worked with a variety of age levels. I am passionate about art, teaching and learning. I’m excited to share lessons, resources, tips and tricks that I currently use in my elementary choice-based art room. Read More

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