Mind-blowing Junk Sculptures (or: works of art from your bin)

In our Art Workshops, we use lots of unexpected items to get the children’s imaginations all lit up.  Fancy having a go at home?  It all starts in your recycling bin!

Cereal Box Robots
You’ll need: Cereal Boxes; toilet tubes; egg boxes; plastic recycling; glue or tape; home printer.
Age: 2.5y+

Basic robot shapes are easy to formulate – a cereal box body, an egg box head, and toilet tube arms.  The imaginative bit comes next: Design a dashboard on the computer, or cut out buttons from plastic elements (like grape boxes). Bottle lids make good buttons too.  Now ask the kids what their robot can do, and give it special powers.  Make the buttons crazy, playful, or educational.  A time travelling robot would be awesome…

Toilet Tube Marble Run
You’ll need: Toilet tubes; Tape; Marbles.
Age: 6y+.

Start saving toilet tubes!  Here’s a good one for slightly older children.  It has the potential to last for a while, as the kids will probably have to smooth out a few bumps (how’s that for educational problem-solving?).  All you’re going to do is start taping them together to form a long run.  Cut some in half so that you can see the marbles rolling through at some points.  Starting from the back of the sofa could work – or run your marbles down the stairs, provided there is careful adult supervision. A fairly steep angle is key, to help the marbles travel over the small bumps in the tape.  If your children are old enough to build a run on their own, it could keep them occupied for a while!

You’ll need: Any boxes and bottles; flour; water.
Age: 2.5y+

Real junk sculpture is unharnessed.  So think big: start taping together your biggest boxes and plastic bottles to create a roaring dragon, a train, a giant turtle, or a totem pole.  (We don’t use Sharpies at Holiday Academy, but they’ll work over tape if you want to draw on eyes and features!)  The beauty of this activity is to let imaginations roam.  You can create anything from old boxes and milk bottles, at any size.

Now you’ve got tape all over it, you won’t be able to paint it easily.  So – for the ambitious – make a mixture of equal parts flour and water.  Then rip strips of newspaper and dip them into the flour one at a time, before laying over your sculpture.  A layer about two or three strips deep is about right.  Now (we told you this was ambitious)

Bottle Skittles
You’ll need: Plastic bottles (small drinks bottles or medium squash bottles will work best); Paint; Sand or soil; PVA glue.
Age: 2.5y+

Any plastic bottles can be turned into funny, fantastic skittles.  (Tip: To paint the plastic bottles, use a mix of 50:50 PVA glue to paint.)  Just half-fill them with sand or soil – or even rice if you have some lurking around.  Then screw the lids on tightly, and paint.  ‘Family members’ would be an entertaining theme.  Let the paint dry, find a ball, and start playing!