A child playing with a handmade Nature Bingo board
A child playing with a handmade Nature Bingo board

As parents, you quickly discover that kids often have more fun with the box than what's inside. And that objects in the trash or recycling bin constantly get pulled out to serve as a plant pot, kazoo, rocket, or nature bingo board (at least in our house!).

We love seeing kids' imaginations come to life, whether it's on the trail or around the kitchen table. Reusing materials also helps kids become more aware of our impact on the planet. So, for Earth Month, we pulled together a few repurposed craft ideas that our own KEEN kids love. (And we love that two of them can give KEEN shoeboxes a second life!).

1. DIY Spin Art

spin art with repurposed objects

A child making spin art with repurposed objects

A child making spin art with repurposed objects

Yay for colorful STEAM fun. Spin art adds a wow factor to playing with paint, because it teaches kids about centrifugal force. While spinning a DIY top, kids pour paint on top and watch it flow toward the outside. They can experiment with spinning it slow or fast to see what happens. Our Spin Art print collection takes this concept and puts it on our kids' shoes. Download our printable to create your own swirly works of art.

What you’ll need:

- Something round and “spinny” like an old CD or plastic lid
- Marble
- Plastic marker cap or bottle cap (I found 5 orphaned marker caps in our craft bin)
- Hot glue
- Paint (squeeze bottle is best)
- Old sheet or a cardboard box to contain the splatter

How to make it:

Step 1: Create your child’s spinner by hot gluing a marble on the bottom and a plastic cap on top (both in the center) of your disk.
Step 2: Find a place outside that can handle the mess. You can use an old sheet as a dropcloth or make your spin art inside a container, like a cardboard box.
Step 3: Have your child pour paint on the spinner while it spins.
Step 4: They can take their works of centrifugal art and create a mobile, pennant, or suncatcher!

2. DIY Cardboard Loom

A child using a cardboard loom

A child using a cardboard loom

What you’ll need:

- Piece of cardboard (any size)
- Baker's twine or thin string
- Yarn and ribbon
- Large plastic needle (optional)
- Ruler
- Marker
- Scissors

How to make it:

Step 1: Cut a rectangular piece of cardboard. The lid of a KEEN shoebox is a great size and thickness.
Step 2: Using a ruler, mark off every centimeter or 1/2 inch on two opposite sides.
Step 3: Cut 1/4 slits at the marks.
Step 4: Use your thin string to create the "warp." Looping back and forth vertically across the entire front of cardboard.
Step 5: Now you're ready to weave. (Most sites recommend using a needle but my son found it easier to just use his fingers.) Go under-over-under-over all the way across horizontally. Then do the opposite on the way back. Over-under-over-under. This is called the "weft." Do as many rows as you want and then change colors if you'd like. Just always start on the same side if you want tassels.
Step 6: Once you are done, you can cut the strings on both sides, knot the strings together, and use it as a coaster, placemat, or wall hanging.

(For more in-depth instructions, check out this how-to from Instructables.com.)

3. DIY Shoebox Playhouse/Diorama

A diorama made from a shoebox

A diorama made from a shoebox
Made by KEEN kid Maya, age 12

An empty KEEN shoebox is just waiting to be filled with fun. Whether it's used to store favorite seashells, create a portable birdwatching kit, or build a little house for your kiddo's littlest friends. (Pro tip: Our adult size shoeboxes will give you more square inchage!)

What you’ll need:
- KEEN shoebox
- Glue
- Scissors
- Small objects for creating miniature furniture/decor
- Favorite little animals/figures

Crafts with a KEEN shoebox

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