If you have been throwing those empty juice, water and soft drink bottles into the bin then STOP right there because today I'm sharing 16 easy ways to recycle plastic bottles for play!
As both an educator and Mum I love to save money on learning resources as well as showing the children how to reuse and recycle materials we already have for different purposes. Creating something new from something old is one way to easily take steps toward embedding sustainable practice into early years learning and environments.
I like to ensure the children can be involved in the recycling process right from the beginning so I usually ask children to collect and wash plastic bottles at home then bring them in to place in a ‘recycled materials' bin which is used often for craft and loose parts play among other things! If you would like to begin turning plastic bottles into something fun or useful then you are going to love this fantastic list of ideas to try with the children.
I've included some of the favourites from my own activities as well as more inspiration from around the web for you. Let's take a wander! Just click on the highlighted text links to learn more about how to do each project (all will open in a new page so you won't lose this post!).
1. Make this easy compost bottle to show children how composting works on a small scale.
2. Recycle a few roll on deodorant bottles to make your own toddler friendly paint rollers.
3. Turn juice pop top bottles in Sensory Shakers – all ages love to be involved in creating and using these!
4. Explore colour mixing and pattern making with these Paint Squirt bottles
5. Invite local bird life into your outdoor play spaces by making these Simple Rustic Bird Feeders (Playful Learning)
6. Turn a fence into a Water Play Wall using different sized plastic bottles (Tinkerlab)
7. Create a Wall of Art and colour using vibrant plastic bottles in a chainwire fence. This project is amazing and while you might not be able to create something on this scale I see lots of scope for children to create their own mini artworks in the play area in this way (Pop Up City)
8. Children will love making their own Self Watering Planters then watching as their seeds turn into plants. Why not also encourage them to individualize their planters with paints or pens before planting! (Shelterness)
9. Make your own colourful Snake Bubble Blowers – so budget friendly you can make a whole set! (Life with Moore Babies)
10. Make early math fun by turning empty bottles into a simple Count and Sort Game. (The Imagination Tree)
11. You must take a look at the Greenhouse these schoolchildren made with their recycled bottles – so clever! (inhabitat)
12. Work together as a group to create a Sustainable Living Green Wall using bottles. Why not start small and then keep adding to the wall throughout the year! Take a look at the video as well to explore the learning involved in this school group project. (Potted Vegetable Garden Lifestyle)
13. Work those big gross motor muscles and cool off on a hot day with a game of frozen Ten Pin Bowling outside! (Learn, Play, Imagine)
14. Children can express their individual creativity with these bottle Sculptures and Mobiles. (Life with Moore Babies)
15. Investigate colour mixing and get a workout at the same time when you make these Colourful Bottles. (Gift of Curiosity)
16. Challenge those emerging fine motor and spatial awareness skills with this easy Tissue Paper Posting Activity. ( Sugar Aunts)
Next time you see someone throwing out a plastic bottle why not recycle it for some budget friendly and simple play and learning instead?