Skip to Content

Toys Made from Recycled Materials | Projects for Kids

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Crafts and Toys made from recycled materials are the best. When else do you get the joy of using up otherwise thrown away stuff and making something fun with the kids? Better yet, how about making a toy out of cardboard, paper, old tin cans, bottle caps, and other recyclable items?

Next time you’re searching for a cool new project to do with the kids, look no further than your recycling bin. You’ll be impressed by what you can make by foraging just a few items together.

Fun vehicles like cars, planes, and trains, quirky tin can robots, cute toys like a sewing machine, binoculars, and even a play kitchen!

Take a look at these awesome recycled toy ideas and next time your kid asks for a new toy, tell them you can make one together.

Psst… At the end of the list, you’ll also find a magical summer boredom buster jar to start the vacation off with heaps of ideas for activities.

Make sure to click on the links below to view each tutorial.

Homemade Toys from Recycled Materials

Kids tap into their creativeness by playing, and there’s no reason why you, as a parent, should miss out on the opportunity to get just as creative! Not only is it a fun project, but it’s also something that’s going to prevent you from spending money on expensive kid’s toys.

As well as saving cash, you’re also contributing to a happier, healthier environment. To inspire your creations, you’ll find a fantastical list of innovative goodies to help get the juices flowing.

So let’s get started!

1. Cardboard Space Shuttle from Pink Stripey Socks

What kid doesn’t love space? The idea of traveling to outer space is just too dreamy. A cardboard space shuttle is a perfect excuse to learn about space while creating something that can be used as a toy or on display in their bedrooms.

2. Recycled Little Cars from Crea Mamma

Cars are one of the most sought-after toys. And by creating a car from recycled materials, you can make an array of different designs and colors.

Wondering how to make a toy car out of recycled materials? This is an easy to follow, step-by-step tutorial.

3. 3D Arctic Fox Craft from The Craft Train

This one is as simple as printing out this template to make a 3D Arctic fox craft with a pop-out paper snout.

4. Animal Circus Train from Mer Mag

Create a cardboard train made from simple leftover pantry items, such as empty tea boxes. Fill the train with your kiddie’s favorite toy animals and let them whizz around on the carpets.

5. Race Cars from Kifli es Levendula

Kids can paint an old toilet roll their favorite color and transform it into a racing car. Create little disks to be the wheels and a hole for the driver. Lego men are brilliant race car drivers!

6. Robots and Rockets from Sweet Paul Mag

Learn how to transform old paper towel rolls into fun and colorful rocket launchers and robots. They can feature any playful design you like, where it’s space-inspired, striped, or rainbow colors.

7. Tin Can Drums from (Cool) Progeny

Children love absolutely anything that makes a sound. And while it might be a pain for parents, you can escape the noise by allowing the kids to play in the garden. Create homemade tin can drums and let them pound away all afternoon!

8. Play Kitchen from Mer Mag

Repurpose some household items, like empty boxes, and recreate your idea of the perfect kitchen. Create stovetops and fridges that’ll keep your kids entertained all day long.

9. Animal Dropbox from Meri Cherry

Don’t throw away an empty box. Rather create an animal dropbox by cutting holes and adding some color. It can be used as an educational game to drop the toy animals in particular colors that match the color on the animal.

10. Egg Carton Camera from Let’s Do Something Crafty

How often does it feel like kids are drawn to cameras? Whether they’re taking selfies on your phone or snapping sneaky photos on the camera, photography is a wonderful hobby.

For the youngsters, transform an empty egg carton into their own snazzy camera.

11. Recycled Toy Robot Monsters from Alisa Burke

Making toy robots is always heaps of fun, because each time you make one, they’re completely unique. Different-sized boxes, colorful pens, and stickers are all you need to make your robot come to life.

12. Cardboard Sewing Machine from Little Red Window

A DIY cardboard box sewing machine is something you’ve probably never thought of making. So it’ll be all the more fun attempting this quirky design.

13. Shoebox Princess Castles from Art Bar

It doesn’t get more adorable than shoebox castles. Build castles as high as you can by attaching the boxes, use toilet rolls for extra structure, and decorate with all kinds of funky decor – glitter glue is a great idea.

14. Pirate Ship from Mollymoo

Inspired by the iconic children’s movie Peter Pan, a pirate ship is a versatile toy made of recycled materials that can be used anywhere. Bring it along on a trip to the beach, a camping holiday, or a visit to the grandparents.

15. Cardboard Plane from Small Fry

If you’re looking for a bigger project that requires more time, a cardboard airplane is a brilliant craft that allows your kiddy to captain the plane. Build the plane around your child’s body size, and soon, they’ll be ready for take-off.

16. Stick Bow and Arrow from She Knows

Who knew a popsicle could be so much fun. Turn your summer treat popsicle stick into a stick bow and watch your paper arrow fly through the air.

17. Straw Structures from All For The Boys

Create any kind of intricate structure with colorful straws and craft pipe cleaners. They can be used in dollhouses or made to create building blocks.

18. Cardboard Building Logs from Kix Cereal

Seeing as though toilet rolls and paper towel rolls are something you’ll always have, use them as DIY toys for kids. By cutting out notches in the rolls and painting them different colors, you can assemble them into all kinds of shapes.

19. DIY Toys for Kids Ring Toss Game from La Maison de Loulou

Ring toss is a fantastic game for either indoor or outdoor, but particularly lovely in the summer. It’s a craft that’s easy and fun to make, made of old plastic bottles and cardboard.

20. Recycled Kids Egg Carton Mask from Picklebums

Create all kinds of funny and creative masks from an empty egg carton. They can be made into bird beaks, like an adorable penguin, or a quirky made-up animal face.

21. Sailboat Toys with Recycled Materials from Nalle’s House

Make a little sailboat from bits and bobs lying around the house. Using plastic bottles as the base means your child can play with the sailboat on the water, and it’ll be just like a real one!

22. Woodland House from Tried and True

Be inspired to create little woodland creatures and houses that can be used to decorate the bedroom, or simply used as play toys. You can use pinecones, apricot caps, and wood sticks to create a fairytale village. 

23. Puppet Theater from And We Play

Kids have the most amazing imagination. Let their imagination go wild and help them construct a homemade theater with adorable puppets who strut the stage. There’s an endless amount of characters you can draw up, so this is a project you can always come back to.

24. Jet Packs from The Pinning Mama

Looking for a last-minute Halloween costume? Build your own DIY jetpack that’s fueled with colorful paper fire, complete with a shiny, outer space-inspired silver coating.

25. Puppets from Lisa Storms

Making toys from recycled materials can be as simple as painting a box to make it look like a funny face. Gain some inspiration from Lisa Storms and make some fun handcrafted puppets.

DIY Recycled Toys: Make A Summer Boredom Buster Jar

Making a summer boredom buster jar is an easy way to fill up the days’ activities with endless summer fun. Find out how to make an easy jar filled with ideas your kids can write down using pretty scraps of their old art. A great way to recycle kids’ paintings!

Recycled DIY Materials Needed

Here’s what you’ll need to create and fill your summer boredom buster jar.

  1. Jar
  2. Paint
  3. Pieces of your kids’ art (ones they don’t mind cutting up)
  4. Pen/marker and scissors

Instructions for Boredom Buster Creation

These instructions are simple enough for the kids to follow. Either give them a hand or let them do it on their own with their siblings or friends.

Step 1

Decorate your jar. An easy way to do this is by adding fingerprint dots in various colors around your jar.

Step 2

Cut up old pieces of art. We used this pretty marbled oil and watercolor art my daughter created.

Step 3

Ask your child to write down activities they would like to do this summer. This is a great way to practice writing!

Place your ideas in the jar and pull one out when you want to go on a mini adventure!

Toys from Recycled Materials

DIY toys from recycled materials are a great way to use up any unwanted materials in the house. It’s a way to save money, entertain the kiddies, and let them get their hands dirty!

These toys can be used again and again, but they can also be transformed into new things when they become too boring.

What are some of your favorite recycled projects to do with the kids? And what are your favorite summer activities to do with the kids? Let us know in the comments below!

For more creative crafts for kids, see:

25 Best Fun and Easy Two Ingredient Crafts

9 Fun Ways to Play With Popsicle Sticks

10 Clever Toilet Paper Tube Crafts

10 Awesome Ways To Make An Airplane

12 Dazzling Flower Crafts

12 Egg-Citing Egg Carton Crafts

10 Creative Ways to Make a Puzzle

10 Delightful Clothespin Crafts

8 Creative Paint Chip Crafts

10 Clever Ways to Play with Paper Straws

Agnes Hsu is a mom of three and has been inspiring parents and kids to get creative with easy activities and family friendly recipes for over 10 years. She shares her love for creative play and kids food to her 2MM+ followers online. Agnes' commitment to playful learning and kindness has not only raised funds for charity but also earned features in prestigious nationwide publications.