In our house we do our best to recycle our paper, glass, and plastic. We also love upcycling whenever we can. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term that sounds like a word for a hipster bicycle, “upcycling” is when you take something that would otherwise be discarded (like boxes, food packaging, or lightbulbs, as a few examples) and turn it into something new. It’s a simple practice that many of us have just been calling “crafting” or “junking.” Well, now there’s a new, fun term for it and thousands of great ideas from people like you and me who are inspired to use the things they see in front of them to make something brand new.
In this tutorial, I will show you how I took a simple baby snack food container and turned it into a set of fun outdoor toys for my kids. Because these baby snacks are something we use frequently at our house, we didn’t spend any more money than we normally would have for this craft. But if you’re looking for a ballpark cost for this craft, it cost me about $2 for each container and I made 6 bowling pins in total. The other materials I had on hand, so it was mainly the cost of the containers, which would total around $12. Not bad for hours of toddler entertainment!
- Baby snack food containers (I made 6 total so we could arrange them in a pyramid formation for bowling)
- Red permanent marker
- Hot glue and glue gun
- Play sand or dirt
- Empty your snack food container by feeding your baby, your toddler, your dog, or your neighborhood birds. No need to waste the contents just for the craft!
- Cut off and completely remove the outer label.
- Use a red permanent marker to add line designs to the outside of the “bowling pin.” Our particular containers had extremely convenient lines imprinted in the plastic that I just used as guides. You can look up different bowling pin designs online for inspiration or just make it up as you go along! Toddlers are easily impressed.
- Temporarily remove lids and add play sand or heavy dirt to the bowling pins.
- Make sure to fill the pins only partially to give them a weighted bottom. This will allow them to stand up but make them slightly more challenging to knock over. In picture 5, I am using my fingers to show the level to which I filled the pin with play sand. I tested it a few times, and this seemed to be a good fill point. Any more and the pins would have been too heavy and too difficult for my toddler to knock over with his bouncy ball. Any less and they would have been knocked over by a stiff breeze.
- Next, use your glue gun to add glue around the entire lip of the container and quickly replace the lid before the glue cools and dries. Try to add enough glue to ensure a good seal. That way you don’t accidentally have sand or gravel flung around your living room or yard, depending on where you choose to play.
- Go forth and enjoy your creation! Upcycling is cheap, easy fun. We use these bowling pins outside AND inside the house. My son not only loves to kick his bouncy ball at them and knock them over, but he also loves to use them for stacking and knocking them down, shaking them for musical instruments, and stacking them like logs in the back of his large toy dump truck.
Leave a comment below about how your family has used this craft at home. I would love to hear how you have used your imaginations to find new ways to see something old. Have fun!