Upcycled Easter activities to enjoy with your kids

With Easter and Earth Day falling within days of each other this year — why not channel your family’s energy into the creation of upcycled Easter crafts?

Upcycling refers to finding fresh uses for old things in ways that increase the value of the items. The victory is when you create instead of consume. Once you upcycle your Easter, your kids will not only learn an important lesson that will last a lifetime, but they will also likely start begging for more opportunities to re-imagine everyday items that would otherwise be discarded.

So what are you waiting for? Celebrate Easter and Earth Day at the same time every year. Here are five ideas to get your started:

“Welcome Spring” banner. Using whatever leftover garden twine, string, or thin ribbon you have on hand. Cut 18 banner-shaped triangles from leftover newspaper. Lay the string across the length of a table and starting at one end, fold the widest end of each triangle over the string and adhere with a glue stick. Outline letters to spell “Welcome Spring,” leaving a triangle blank between the words, and let the kids color the letters in with thick black markers. Have a couple of extra triangles on hand in case of errors. Hang your banner prominently, where it can be viewed until summer arrives, then fold it flat and put it away until next year.

Colorful candleholders. Collect recyclable, wide-mouth jars of all shapes and sizes. First, remove any labels and tags, then run your glass jars through the dishwasher. Next, gather whatever colorful leftover tissue paper you have and tear it into half-inch squares. Using Mod Podge or white glue that has been diluted to half-strength with water, coat the jar with a thin layer of glue, then add a colorful layer of overlapping tissue pieces as you go. When the jar is covered, go over the tissue layer once more with a thin coat of glue. When completely dry, add a tea light to each lantern and arrange them on the mantle or in the center of your dining table for the night before Easter.

Tiny toy wreath. After a hearty round of spring cleaning, this playful wreath is a perfect way to create a new home for tiny plastic toys. Start with a wire wreath shape and wrap it in a long strip of old fabric, using a hot glue gun to secure the fabric to frame. Have kids help with the selection and sorting of the little toys and designate one person to be in charge of gluing toys to the wreath. Let dry, then hang. Create one shared family wreath or create a tiny toy wreath for each child’s room.

Terrarium garden starters. Why should the turtles have all the fun? Use an old fish tank or an old glass baking dish (from home or the local thrift store) lined with one inch of gravel and two inches of lightweight potting soil. Cut up leftover cardboard egg cartons you have saved, and push them down into the soil and fill to just barely covered with soil. Plant seed starters for the flower or veggie garden in the egg “pots.” They can be pulled out after they sprout and replanted outdoors.

Decorate your terrarium with cut patches of moss or grass from outdoors. Send children out to gather bark and sticks. Then let your child finish the look with rocks, shells, and old toys. Place your terrarium in bright but indirect light and keep well misted with water from a spray bottle until seeds sprout.

Bookish eggs. It’s time for some of those plastic Easter eggs that have been piling up over the years to get a literary makeover. When a favorite volume is damaged by rain or a spill, you might be tempted to throw it out. But next time, try drying the book by hanging it open, and then cut out any clean pages. Cut each page into a strip, just a bit wider than the egg and long enough to go all the way around. Paint the middle of the paper with Mod Podge and roll it around the egg. Let it dry while you move on to the next egg. Then come back around and make straight cuts into the paper from each end of the egg, so the pieces of paper will lay flat onto the tapered ends of the egg after being painted with more Mod Podge. Let dry, and voila, your children will remember their favorite books each year!

Christina Katz never gets tired of making a fresh start every spring in fun and creative ways. Her latest book is “Permission Granted, 45 Reasons to Micro-publish.”