Reusing Everyday Materials


Altoid Tins 
Submitted by: Upsadaisy
Don’t throw out those handy Altoid tins. When empty, they can be used in many ways. Fill with beans and glue shut for a flat toss piece for games like hopscotch; fill with various objects for discovery boxes; punch or drill holes in ends to hang for wind chimes; thread ribbon through the holes to make a pull toy; glue onto a hard surface to make a permanent concentration game, fill with various small items, close lids and search for matching tins; use for measurement of length, width, perimeter, area; paint and decorate them to make gift boxes; store small magnets inside; glue onto cardboard in the shape of a robot; fill one tin with a prize and distribute to students, play game like pass the potato, winner is the one who has the filled tin when music stops. I’m sure you can think of many, many more uses!
Grade Level(s): Preschool, K, 1-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

Beanbag Stuff 
Submitted by: Emily Appelman, Spec. Ed.
I keep beanbags in my classroom for students to sit on. I noticed the beanbags would lose beans and weren’t very comfortable. I had gotten in some materials by mail and the packing included the styrom foam peanuts. After sewing up any holes, I simply unzipped the beanbag and stuffed the peanuts in. I then asked our secretary to save the packing material for me when they got in suplies. Soon my beangs were overflowing with stuffing. They went from trash to a treasure. You can also throw in a couple of dryer sheets to keep your beanbags smelling fresh all year.

Butter Tub Math 
Submitted by: Mable
I collected a class set of empty butter tubs and filled them with approx. 25 snap cubes of 3 different colors. During math warm-ups, the students can use a tub to practice counting, patterning, positional words, adding, subtracting, etc. and you can pass out and collect these mini math tubs in less than one minute. It sure has saved me time! You could also adapt to fit your needs- put dice, counters, timer, etc. for a fast game tub…
Grade Level(s): K-2

Cereal Boxes 
Submitted by: Amanda Post, A to Z Teacher Stuff Owner
Cereal boxes make great book boxes for each student. At the beginning of the year, I ask parents to send in cereal boxes. It only takes 1-2 weeks to collect enough for each student. I then cut off the top of the box, and cut diagonally across each side to make it look like a magazine holder. I just stick on a name tag for each student. They could be covered in contact paper, but I find the kids like to read the outside of the box, and they generally last all year without reinforcement. If they do get crushed or worn, they can be replaced easily. At the end of the year, the boxes can be thrown away or sent home with students.
Grade Level(s): Preschool, K, 1-2, 3-5

Construction Paper 
Submitted by: Stephanie
After doing any kind of art project, do not just throw away your extra pieces. Save them and they can be used for scrapbooking or other small art projects. I just put them into an extra box and label them “scraps”.
Grade Level(s): Preschool, K, 1-2, 3-5, 6-8

Egg Carton Sorting 
Submitted by: Mable
Use your egg cartons for sorting actvities that use tweezers and different sizes and shapes of tongs. Have students sort beans, pasta, marbles, popcorn, buttons, pom-poms, etc. into empty cartons for fine motor power!
Grade Level(s): Preschool, K

Milk Jug – Bag Storage 
Submitted by: Amanda Post, A to Z Teacher Stuff Owner
Milk jugs are excellent for storing plastic shopping bags (the kind you get at Wal-Mart or the grocery store). Turn a clean gallon milk jug on its side and cut a hole approx. 3-4 inches in diameter. You can then stuff many plastic sacks inside, and use the milk jug as a dispenser. The sacks are great for kids who forget their backpack, or have extra items to take home that don’t fit in their backpack.
Grade Level(s): Preschool, K, 1-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

Need Stickers? 
Submitted by: Trena Shenk
Can’t use all your address sticker labels? Simply cut away the address and use the colorful picture for stickers.
Grade Level(s): Preschool, K, 1-2

Old Books For Borders 
Submitted by: JM
I always have a few novels or picture books that get “loved” to pieces at the end of the year. Instead of recycling them, I use an art knife to cut the pages out and use as a quick border around a bulletin board. This looks great for a literacy board or a writers board. My students love to guess which book I recycled.
Grade Level(s): Preschool, K, 1-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

Paying Bills Online? Keep Those Envelopes! 
Submitted by: Amanda Post, A to Z Teacher Stuff Owner
Kids LOVE using envelopes at the writing center. If you are paying bills online, you can reuse those envelopes companies send with your bill for returning your payment. They usually don’t have any return addresses because they are designed for the payment coupon to show through the window. They work great. You could ask parents to save these for you, too.
Grade Level(s): Preschool, K, 1-2, 3-5

Re-using Scholastic News/Weekly Reader 
Submitted by: Miss W
I always have extra Scholatic News and Weekly Readers. Being the person I am, I save…well everything. I wanted to find a new use for these extras, so I laminated them and put them as one of my literacy centers. They are very durable, and students can write on them with a vis-a-vis marker. I usually save the ones that have really interested my classes. Once they’re torn, I have no problem throwing them away and putting in more.
Grade Level(s): Preschool, K, 1-2, 3-5

Recycling Old Crayons 
Submitted by: Forum Participants, Originally posted at the Discussion Forums
Grade Level(s): Preschool, K, 1-2, 3-5

Question: As I am cleaning out my room after the last day of school yesterday, I am coming across tons of old broken crayons. Most I am able to save for the art area but so many are too small. I am looking for a way to recycle them into new ones. Does anyone know of a way to melt them down and perhaps make chuncky crayons, maybe even mixing some together to make them multi-colored. I am continuing my search but if anyone knows of a way to do this I would appreciate it. You know us teachers – we can never throw anything away!!!!! –Margo …

What I do is take the broken pieces and put them into muffin tins that have been lined with aluminum foil liners (don’t use the paper ones, the foil works better for this!). Put it into a low heat oven, and watch carefully. They will melt, but sometimes you might need to give it a quick stir. When they look right, take them out, let cool overnight, and you have chunky crayons! My classes love them! Good luck! –shawn

I was going to try shaving the crayons into an ice cube tray and try microwaving slowly but I will try your idea too. –Margo

Take broken crayons with the paper removed and put them into muffin tins. Put them into the oven on about 250 degrees and you have wonderful new crayons. You can mix different shades of blue for water, oranges, yellows and reds for sun and volcanoes. There are many different things you can do with the crayons. –B

Recycling old crayons 
Submitted by: M. Keller
Shave down crayons in an assortment of colors. Sprinkle in a pattern or design on a piece of wax paper or contact paper. Cover paper with a piece of cloth, and iron gently until crayon is melted. Make a pretty frame using construction paper, or cardboard covered in gift wrap scraps.
Grade Level(s): Preschool, K, 1-2, 3-5

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