Homeschooling doesn't have to be expensive and neither do craft projects! Big Sis (my oldest daughter) came up with the idea of using trash, bits of nature, and recyclables to make "trash collages", which later expanded to fun structures, crafts, inventions, and toys.
For the past few days, my daughters have spent hours working on trash collages. They have really enjoyed the creative process! They have gone through phases of inspiration, experimentation, passionate determination, and revelation... all from playing with so-called "junk". (It was clean junk, mind you! We were sure to only use safe and clean materials, of course. I'd highly recommend looking through and being choosy with what your child will have access to, since some objects can carry bacteria or have sharp edges.)
While their projects might not look like much, they each had quite the story to them! This pretend play and storyline held the deepest joy they experienced in doing it all. It was all child-led fun and in the process, they learned things that I never would have thought to plan out ahead of time (like some very basic principles of flight and aerodynamics)!
My youngest, Lil Sis, told me all about one of her creations: the "kitty house". Though it is not obvious to the "untrained eye", it is complete with "a cat bed which has a pillow and blanket, little mats for the kitty to play with her dolls on, a bench with people to play with, windows on the side from the hold puncher, toys, food to eat, a place to rest her feet, a water trough, a tunnel, and a feather that is a deck for the kitty to go out and relax on". I thought it was cute that she made a "deck", since that was a vocabulary word that Big Sis had learned earlier in the day. Oh, the joys of younger siblings absorbing knowledge of all kinds from their older siblings homeschool learning!
Big Sis had creative and artistic projects as well. Some of her design elements are harder to see, such as the holes punched along the side of the egg carton through which yarn was woven and bells attached, the foam she used to help stabilized the peacock feather, and the little cutout person sitting in the archway behind the peacock feather.
This would be a great project for preschoolers to express themselves, practice helpful skills (such as weaving, hold punching, cutting, gluing, etc.), and just plain have fun. Add some paint and glitter to make a glorious mess! Use lots of different types of materials - rough, soft, heavy, light, colorful, smooth, and more - for a nice sensory experience.
I imagine that older children might also enjoy making "trash sculptures", taking on STEM challenges and inventions, or even making displays to match history or social studies topics they are currently studying.
There is so much more that could be done. Get really innovative! Encourage your children to be involved! Cut out letters from packages and boxes for phonics, spelling, and word games, or other images for shape and color recognition. Utilize various recyclable materials for math counters, showing fractions, creating stencils for art, or parts of homemade games - both board game and circus/fair game style (such as ring toss). Go outside and explore or read a book and then ask your child to make a 3D representation of what they saw or what you read.
If you have any more ideas or want to share what you've done with your child with trash, recyclables, and nature materials, please comment below or email me.
Have fun and let me know how it goes!
I'm a homeschooling mom of two, enjoying our time in Hawaii and hoping to share some of that experience with you, including ideas, reviews, resources, and information.