20 Fun Ideas That Won’t Break The Bank

February 12th, 2013 posted by Amanda Formaro

painting at the table
When the kids get home from school,
make some of these fun and inexpensive crafts! Not ready to spend a fortune
on supplies? We’ve come up with some fun projects you can make with recycled
materials from around the house. Here are some ideas to get you started!

PRINTING NOTE: If you prefer to print these ideas individually, please visit our Family FunBook!

Milk Jug Bird Feeders

Rinse out an empty plastic gallon milk jug with lid. Cut a window in the
front of the jug, and make two small poke holes for the perches. Insert pencils
for perches and fill the bottom of the jug with bird seed.

Juice Carton Crayon Box

Wash and dry an empty cardboard juice carton and cut off the top. Using bits
and pieces of masking tape, have the children tape up the entire carton,
covering all sides, the more tape the better. Use crayons to color the masking
tape box. The tape makes the box sturdier and will make a great crayon holder
for their desk or dresser.

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Aluminum Can Crafts

Paint an empty and rinsed out tuna can with spray or acrylic paint. Decorate
with glitter and glue, pom poms, buttons, lace, or stickers. These make cute
holders for barrettes, pony tail holders, paper clips, rubber bands, keys,
jewelry, or other small items. Using the same ideas, paint a soup or vegetable
can to make a pen or pencil holder.

Coffee Can Wish Bank

Have the kids cut pictures from old magazines or draw pictures of something
they want. Decorate the cans with glitter, the pictures, stickers or anything
else you have around. Cut a hole in the plastic top of the can for the kids
to deposit money. Each time they add money to the can, they are contributing
a little bit more to the “wish” item. A great way to teach kids to save

Coffee Can Stilts

Using two 1-pound coffee cans, turn each can upside down so that the plastic
lid is on the bottom. Using a screwdriver, poke two holes, one on each side
of the can. Using several strands of yarn braided or twisted together, or
some rope, thread through holes in cans. Tie off inside the can. Cans can
be decorated if you like.

Jar Candles

Save the stubs of candles. When you have several saved, melt them together
in a double boiler. Color the wax by adding bits of crayon to the mixture.
Pour the wax into glass jelly or mason jars or metal cans. Use cotton yarn
for wicks, or you can purchase a roll of wick at a craft store. Decorate
the outside of the candle holder with acrylic paints.

Magazine House

Using an old catalog or magazine, cut out pictures of chairs, tables, curtains,
bathroom fixtures and other furnishings. Spread out a newspaper or large
sheet of drawing paper. Sketch an “open sided” house. Have children place
the pictures of the furnishings in the rooms of their choice. They can cut
out more pictures to redecorate their house, cut out pictures of people,
toys, pets, anything they like!

Alphabet Catalog Collage

Using old toy, clothing, and plant catalogs, have the kids cut out colorful
pictures that begin with a specific letter of the alphabet. Assign different
letters to each child. Have them glue the pictures onto a piece of construction
paper. Discuss the pictures afterward.

Paper Towel Rain Makers

Young kids love noise makers. Color, paint, and decorate paper towel rolls.
Cover one end of a paper towel roll with waxed paper and close it off with
a rubber band. Pour a handful or two of dried beans (split peas work well)
in the open end, close open end the same as the other. Poke toothpicks through
the rolls at different intervals to add a “rain shaker” sound.
bottles of paint

Paper Towel Tube Holders

Decorate a paper towel tube with paint, markers, glitter, stickers, construction
paper and crayons. This becomes a colorful carrying tube. Roll their pictures
up and put inside to take to their teacher, grandparents, friends, or relatives.
Some special pictures could be for their Grandparents, a special aunt or
uncle, or even for a brother or sister.

Paper Plate Holders

Using two paper plates, cut one plate in half and place on top of the other
plate (turn the half plate to form a pocket over the whole plate). Use a
paper punch to make holes going around the outside of the plate. Use scraps
of yarn and “sew” through the holes of the plate. Start and end at the top
of the plate so that it can be extended about six inches and tied. Have your
children color, paint or decorate their plates. Now they have their very
own place to put prized possessions, notes from Mom and dad, special pictures
and more.

Paper Plate Aquarium

Color an underwater scene on the “eating” side of a paper plate. Glue goldfish
crackers to the scene, a couple pieces of plastic plant for seaweed, and
using glue and a little sand or soft dirt, make the sea floor. Using a second
paper plate, cut a circle in the middle. Cut a circle of blue plastic wrap
1 inch in diameter larger than your hole in the plate. On the “eating” side
of this plate, glue the blue plastic wrap so that it covers and overlaps
the hole on the plate. Glue or staple both plates together with “eating”
side toward the inside. Punch a hole in the top and string a piece of yarn
through the hole to hang your aquarium from the ceiling.

Treasure Shoe Box

Decorate an old shoe box and lid with construction paper, markers, paint,
glue and glitter, crayons, googly eyes, stickers, lace, doilies, or whatever
else you can find. Be sure to put the child’s name inside the lid. This box
make a great box for treasures found out in the yard, on the way home from
school, or anywhere else your children “hunt”.


Pain the inside of a shoebox with black or dark blue poster or acrylic paint.
Alternatively, you can glue black construction paper inside the box. Using
white crayons or stickers, make a night scene with stars and the moon on
the black background. Get creative, use small plastic toys to create a scene
inside your shadowbox, or make your own with construction paper and glue.
Cut out small pictures from coloring books and color and adhere to your scene.
Hang a spaceship or shooting star with a piece of string and glue.

Cartoon Strip

make your very own cartoon adventure with crayons and a pad of paper. At
the bottom of a pad, on each sheet, draw a figure (i.e., a dog). The first
frame will be on the first page, second frame on the second page, and so
on. Change the movement with each page. When you are finished, fan the pages
with your thumb to see the show!

Create a Story

If you have several children together, this can be great fun. Give each child
two or three pieces of paper. Have them each drawer a picture and write a
sentence. When finished, see if they can put it together to form a story.
New pages can be created as you go along. A book cover can be made from two
pieces of construction paper, a hole punch, and yarn.

Number Fun

Pick a number from one to ten. Write it on a piece of paper. Ask the children
to draw sets of things in that number. If the child get number four, have
them draw four apples, four trees, four dogs, and so on. Have them color
their pictures with crayons and

Animal Jumble

Using construction or white paper, ask each child to drawn a different body
part of an animal, but to have their animal be a secret. For example, have
one child draw the head, another draw the tail, another the legs and so on.
let the children pick the animal they want to draw. When they are done have
then put the animal together with tape or glue. Have fun coming up with a
name for the animal (monk-dog-lion-potamus).

Pet Rocks

Find smooth, flat or round rocks. Be sure to clean off any dirt or sand and
dry completely before starting. Paint with acrylic paints. Decorate faces
by using google eyes, yarn for hair, markers, glitter, and any other tidbits
you like.


Great for back to school or as a gift to someone you love. Make fun bookmarks
with construction paper, markers, paints, and stickers. You can also use
glitter, sequins, lace, doilies, buttons, and any other little bric-a-brac
you have laying about. Cut strips from construction paper, painting the
construction paper will make it sturdier, or you can visit the local library
or office supply to have them laminated for longer lasting use. To complete
the bookmark, attach a tassle make from strands of yarn.

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Amanda Formaro (345 Posts)

Amanda Formaro is a freelance writer, editor, craft designer, and recipe developer. She loves multi-tasking and has been writing and working on the Internet since 1997. You can find her at AmandaFormaro.com. You’ll find her craft projects at CraftsbyAmanda.com and her recipes on AmandasCookin.com.

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Cindy Rowe (7 Posts)

Cindy Rowe is the owner/editor of Crazylou Creations blog. On the blog, you will find a little bit of crazy, and a whole lot of fun! As a FT working mother, she still finds time to create crafts, play around in the kitchen, plan parties and exercise. You'll find all of this and more on her blog!

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