Holiday Trash to Holiday Treasure: 5 Projects to Keep the Kids Busy Over Break.

Winter break is nearly upon us, and all us parents want is a way to keep the kids busy until we can cart them back off to school. Here are a few ways to recycle your holiday trash into creative projects for the kiddos.


1. Recycle those last scraps of wrapping paper into origami ornaments. Wrapping paper is designed for crisp folding – it makes ideal origami paper. And you save money on replacing ornaments next year! Our whole tree is 80% origami, and people compliment us on it all the time. Bonus if you include a discussion of shapes, angles, and visual fractions. But really it’s vacation, don’t stress yourself out.  Here’s an easy starter page of origami ideas.


2. Turn that pile of Amazon boxes into an awesome set of building blocks. Ask neighbors for their boxes, too, and let the kids build and knock down a few forts before you send it all to the recycling bin. (Bonus: there’s implicit math involved in fort-building – informal measuring, counting, comparing, etc.) If you have any poster paints laying around that you’d like to use up, you can set out some newspaper and let the little ones add color.


3. Recycle an old song. Holiday songs are the BEST. Or the WORST, depending on who you ask. But everybody knows them, so let the kids take the tune and set new words down. You may end up with a silly song about farting, but at least it’ll be a little different. (Bonus: Yep, still math involved: in order to change the words to a tune, you need an understanding of musical fractions and syllable-counting). If they’re a little older and you trust them with a camera phone, let them shoot a music video, edit it, and post it to YouTube.


4. Recycle old or broken Christmas decorations into hair barettes. Maybe I’m old school, but going to the craft store and using a glue gun to make your own hair barettes was the height of cool when I was about 9 years old. There are quite a few Christmas decorations I can think of, including old tree garlands, that could be deconstructed and used to make a little girl’s hair a little more special.


5. Recycle their old toys into a lesson about thankfulness and giving. You can address both you anxiety over the ever-growing clutter in your house, and your guilt over not making Christmas more about Things Other Than Gifts, by using the holiday as an opportunity to encourage your kids to cull out the toys and things they no longer love and passing them on to people who would love a gently-used action figure. The Salvation Army, Goodwill, and local churches and shelters should be happy to take some off your hands.

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