Crafty and Kind to the Earth: Upcycled Summer Art Projects for Kids

Crafty and Kind to the Earth: Upcycled Summer Art Projects for Kids

By Dr. Manasa Mantravadi



Time to Read: 8 min

Summertime invites endless days filled with sunshine, laughter, and boundless energy. Kids are eager to explore, create, and make the most of their vacation. Why not channel that enthusiasm into eco-friendly art projects?  Unleash their creativity and nurture a love for the planet with crafts that repurpose everyday materials. Upcycling transforms ordinary objects into extraordinary works of art, sparking imagination and reducing waste. I know my kids are always looking for crafting supplies, so we keep a box of ready-to-use materials in their playroom. And, if those supplies are lacking, my kids no to go to the recycling bin for ideas.

This summer, gather those cardboard boxes, collect nature's treasures, and give new life to old fabrics. Your children will embark on artistic adventures, building castles from cardboard, crafting nature-inspired masterpieces, and designing unique fashion accessories. Through these projects, they'll not only develop valuable skills but also learn about sustainability and resourcefulness. 

About Ahimsa

Founded by a pediatrician and mom of three

Stainless steel is the only kid-friendly material recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics 

We are guided by a Scientific Advisory Council comprised of environmental and medical experts, guiding us in creating the safest products, following the latest science and promoting policy to protect human health and our planet

Want to know more? Check out our story and our products

Project 1: Cardboard Creations

  • Materials: Cardboard boxes, tubes, paint, markers, glue, scissors, decorative items (e.g., fabric scraps, buttons).

Cardboard creations are a fantastic way to kickstart your summer crafting adventures. Don't discard those empty boxes and tubes; instead, see them as blank canvases for your child's imagination. Gather paints, markers, glue, scissors, and any decorative items you have on hand, such as fabric scraps, buttons, or yarn.

Invite your little ones to brainstorm ideas for their cardboard transformations. Will they build a towering castle fit for a king or queen? Perhaps a rocket ship ready to blast off into outer space? A colorful car for a cross-country road trip? Or maybe they'll create whimsical animal masks to wear for hours of imaginative play. The possibilities are endless!

With your guidance and support, your children can cut, paint, and embellish their cardboard creations, turning simple materials into extraordinary works of art. Encourage them to think outside the box (pun intended!), using different shapes and sizes to bring their visions to life. Let their imaginations run wild as they build, decorate, and play with their unique creations. 

Upcycled Crafts for Childrens | Art Supplies in Ahimsa Plates

Project 2: Nature's Masterpieces

  • Materials: Rocks, leaves, twigs, flowers, paint, glue, paper or canvas.

Step outside and let nature be your muse. A simple nature walk can transform into an artistic treasure hunt. Gather rocks, leaves, twigs, flowers, and any other natural materials that catch your child's eye. Encourage them to observe the unique textures, shapes, and colors of their findings.

Once back home, spread out your nature collection and let the creative process begin. Smooth rocks become adorable pet rocks with a few dabs of paint. Colorful leaves transform into intricate collages. Twigs and branches can be assembled into tiny fairy houses or miniature bird nests. Use flowers to create pressed flower art or incorporate them into nature-themed paintings.

Let your children experiment with different techniques and combinations. Maybe they'll paint vibrant scenes on rocks or arrange leaves into playful patterns on canvas. Encourage them to explore the versatility of nature's materials and see where their imaginations lead them. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers. It's all about expressing creativity and appreciating the beauty of the natural world.

Mealtime Essentials

Project 3: Upcycled Fashion Fun

  • Materials: Old t-shirts, fabric scraps, scissors, sewing supplies (optional), fabric markers or paint.

Dig into those drawers filled with forgotten t-shirts and fabric scraps. It's time for upcycled fashion fun! Those old tees don't have to meet their end in a landfill; instead, they can be transformed into trendy tote bags perfect for carrying beach essentials or library books. Cut them into strips to create colorful headbands or weave them into funky bracelets. Let your children's imaginations guide their designs, using fabric markers or paint to personalize their creations with unique patterns, logos, or even their names.

If you possess sewing skills, this project offers a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with your children on more elaborate designs. Create patchwork tote bags, sew simple skirts from repurposed fabrics, or even design matching outfits for dolls or stuffed animals. The options are limited only by your creativity and the materials at hand.

This project not only encourages artistic expression but also teaches valuable lessons about recycling and repurposing. Your children will gain a deeper appreciation for the clothes they wear and learn how to extend their lifespan through creative reuse. Plus, they'll have unique, one-of-a-kind fashion accessories to show off their eco-conscious style.

Project 4: Tin Can Wind Chimes

  • Materials: Clean, empty tin cans, acrylic paints, paintbrushes, string or yarn, beads, small bells or metal washers, hammer and nail (for older children with adult supervision)

Tin cans, often destined for the recycling bin, can be transformed into delightful wind chimes that bring music and charm to your outdoor spaces. Start by removing any sharp edges from the cans and thoroughly cleaning them. Then, let your children's creativity flow as they decorate the cans with vibrant acrylic paints. They can paint abstract patterns, floral designs, or even their favorite animals.

Once the paint dries, it's time to create the chimes. Help your children punch holes in the top and bottom of the cans using a hammer and nail (if they are old enough and under close supervision). Then, thread string or yarn through the holes, attaching beads, small bells, or metal washers at varying lengths to create different sounds. Encourage your children to experiment with different combinations to create a unique melody.

Hang the finished wind chimes on a porch, balcony, or tree branch, and let the gentle breeze create a symphony of sounds. Your children will be delighted to hear their artistic creations come to life with every gust of wind.

Project 5: Milk Carton Bird Feeders

  • Materials: Clean, empty milk or juice cartons, acrylic paints, paintbrushes, string or yarn, birdseed, scissors or craft knife (with adult supervision)

Give empty milk or juice cartons a new purpose by transforming them into charming bird feeders. Let your children unleash their artistic flair as they paint the cartons with cheerful colors and patterns. Encourage them to create designs that will attract their feathered friends, such as flowers, butterflies, or even simple bird silhouettes.

Once the paint dries, carefully cut or carve out openings on opposite sides of the carton, large enough for birds to access the seeds. Punch holes near the top of the carton and thread string or yarn through them to create a hanging loop. Fill the carton with birdseed, hang it from a tree branch or hook, and watch as your backyard becomes a bustling avian cafe. Your children will be thrilled to observe different bird species enjoying their handmade creations, fostering a love for nature and wildlife.


Summertime invites endless opportunities for creative exploration and family bonding. By embracing upcycled art projects, you'll not only keep your children entertained but also instill in them a sense of resourcefulness and respect for the environment. So, gather your materials, let your imaginations run wild, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Remember, every masterpiece, no matter how small, contributes to a brighter, greener future.

At Ahimsa, we understand the importance of nurturing creativity and health in our little ones. Our stainless steel dishware is designed for safe, eco-friendly mealtimes, complementing your family's sustainable lifestyle. Pediatrician-designed and kid-approved, our durable dishes are free of harmful chemicals and built to last a lifetime. They're not just dishes, they're a commitment to a healthier planet and a brighter future for our children.

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi is a board-certified pediatrician whose dedication to children’s health drove her to launch Ahimsa, the world's first colorful stainless steel dishes for kids. She was motivated by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ findings on harmful chemicals in plastic affecting children's well-being. Ahimsa has gained widespread recognition and been featured in media outlets such as Parents Magazine, the Today Show, The Oprah Magazine, and more.

Dr. Mantravadi received the esteemed “Physician Mentor of the Year” award at Indiana University School of Medicine in 2019. She was also named a Forbes Next 1000 Entrepreneur in 2021, with her inspiring story showcased on Good Morning America. She serves on the Council for Environmental Health and Climate Change and the Council for School Health at The American Academy of Pediatrics. She represents Ahimsa as a U.S. industry stakeholder on the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for the Global Plastics Treaty, led by the United Nations Environment Program. Dr. Mantravadi leads Ahimsa's social impact program, The Conscious Cafeteria Project, to reduce carbon emissions and safeguard student health as part of a national pilot of the Clinton Global Initiative.

She is dedicated to educating and empowering people to make healthier, more environmentally friendly choices at mealtime. Her mission remains to advocate for the health of all children and the one planet we will leave behind for them through real policy change within our food system.

More Mealtime Essentials

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I use stainless steel instead of plastic? Is stainless steel better for health?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a report in July 2018 suggesting ways that families can limit exposure to certain chemicals at mealtime, including “the use of alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible.” The report explained that “…some additives are put directly in foods, while “indirect” additives may include chemicals from plastic, glues, dyes, paper, cardboard”. Further, “Children are more sensitive to chemical exposures because they eat and drink more, relative to body weight, than adults do, and are still growing and developing.” While stainless steel items meet the recommendation to avoid plastic products in children, Ahimsa® products have the obvious advantage of not breaking like glass.

Is stainless steel better for the environment than plastic?

According to the Steel Recycling Institute, steel can be recycled over and over and over again without losing its integrity and requires less energy to recycle than to make anew. Most plastic unfortunately ends up in landfills and it is estimated to take 700 years to decompose. Our special coloring process that allows Ahimsa® products to be fully metal is environmentally friendly, so it does not produce toxic run-off into the ecosystem.

Will Ahimsa products break or peel?

No. Our steel is durable, so it won’t break or shatter with everyday use, like glass. And it won’t peel, like other colored stainless steel products you’ve seen. We use a special process that allows the colors to naturally occur in the metal.

Which Ahimsa products are best for my little one(s)?

Our products are meant to last, you can use Ahimsa at ages 1, 8 and 18! We thoughtfully design our products to be safe for little ones and our planet while reducing consumption. Once your child outgrows the Starting Solids Set  and can use regular cups and utensils, the training cup is the perfect size rinse cup in the bathroom, the infant spoon doubles as a tea stirrer and the bowl is great for snacks or as an additional compartment to our modular divided plate. Our plates are great for any age as they encourage choosing a variety of healthy foods at each meal and help visualize portion sizes easily. It’s the lasting beauty of stainless steel - grows with your child and reduces waste.

Related Posts

Leave a comment