The Joy of Teaching – An Evan-Moor Blog

Sharing creative ideas and lessons to help children learn

Art Projects Using Items You Actually Have Around the House


Papier-mâché Easter eggs craft from First Palette

Do you ever find yourself browsing the web for fun things to do with students and then realize that most of the crafts require a drill, jackhammer, or ten pounds of kitty litter?

With teachers and parents in mind, I’ve rounded up a few art projects that students can make and do using things we’ve got lying around the house.


When I was a kid, my mom would keep me entertained for hours with papier-mâché. I’d use old crepe paper streamers and make “piñatas” to hang in my room.


Homemade pinata idea from Glue Sticks blog

Papier-mâché piñata:

  • Use a mixture of about 2 cups of water and 1 cup of flour (if you have a little borax, you can add it, but the flour and water do just as well).
  • Blow up balloons and cover with water/flour mixture and strips of old newspapers or scrap paper; then hang to dry.
  • Once dry, kids can paint and decorate the outside however they like. Don’t forget to pop the balloon before hanging!

Teacher Tip: Skip the paints and use old magazine paper for colorful “eggs” as an Easter activity!

Paper Tube Everything

I love paper roll crafts because if there isn’t one in my recycle bin, there’s a roll somewhere not far from being done.


Superhero cuffs from Fashionably Geek blog

Paper Roll Bracelets & Cuffs

  • Cut the rolls into 1- to 2-inch” rings and decorate as bracelets or make them thicker and make superhero cuffs.

Teacher Tip: If the cuffs are too big or small for anyone, cut them at the back and adjust with tape.

Paper Roll Animals

Make a classroom zoo with our Paper Tube Animal activity.

image of paper tube zoo animals

Paper roll craft from Evan-Moor’s Paper Tube Zoo

Here are two printables to help you get started: Bear Paper Tube Animals and Butterfly Paper Tube Animal.

For more paper tube animal crafts, see Paper Tube Zoo e-book or

Plastic Bottles

Plastic bottles can be upcycled in so many cool crafts; don’t let them go to waste!


Plastic bottle bird houses from Goods Home Design

Plastic Bottle Birdhouses

  • Using scissors, cut out the center section of a used water bottle or soda bottle (about 3 inches).
  • Make two holes in the sides of the bottom section. You can use a hole punch or just cut slits in either sides.
  • Tie a string through the holes and run it through the top section of the bottle.

Teacher Tip: Students can decorate the houses before or after assembling and hang them indoors or fill with birdseed and hang outdoors!

I especially love these activities because you don’t need special supplies to decorate them. They’re small enough that students can use leftover glitter, paint, pom-poms, stickers, and anything else you don’t want to waste!


Contributing Writer

Karina-photoKarina Ruiz has four years of experience working with children for non-profit after-school programming for K–12 and four years of nanny work. She is currently a volunteer intern and attends California State University, Monterey Bay.

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