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DIY for Kids: Make an Outdoor Mobile from Scraps

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Add color to your porch with a mobile made from items otherwise destined for the landfill with this kid-friendly project.

What to do when your plastic trash isn’t recyclable? Certain types of plastics, like the #6 plastic that is used to make disposable cutlery, is not accepted in many recycling programs. Bottle caps and lids are also not always recyclable, either, because they could clog equipment or because they’re made of a type of plastic that isn’t recyclable. Instead, turn your trash into treasure by making a pretty porch mobile that will sparkle in the breeze all summer long – a perfect project for kids of all ages. Here’s how!

What You’ll Need:
  • Disposable cutlery: Use a variety of colors and shapes. The cutlery that are clear or silver-colored look particularly pretty.
  • A plastic lid or disposable plate for the top of the mobile
  • Small plastic bottle caps or wine corks
  • Anything else you can find from a look around the house — use your imagination to incorporate other found objects into your mobile.
  • Clear plastic cord or fishing wire
  • A knife or other sharp object for poking holes
  • Scissors
  • Glue, glitter, paint and jewels for decorating the cutlery
  • Paintbrushes
  • Newspaper to cover work area

  1. (This part needs adult supervision!) Using a pointed item, like the tip of a scissors, a craft blade or an awl, carefully poke holes in the bottle caps.
  2. Get your materials together (you can pour paint into an empty egg carton to use as a palette). Decorate the plastic cutlery and bottle caps with paints, or drizzle with glue and sprinkle with glitters or plastic jewels. You can also decorate the plate or lid. Let paint and glue dry completely.
  3. Cut the cord into a range of various lengths, from 12 to 18 inches, one piece for each utensil, and then poke a hole in the edge of the plate or lid for each piece of cord.

  4. Knot all of the cords together, and poke a piece of the cord through each hole in the lid.
  5. On the cord that hangs down from the lid, string the bottle caps like beads (tie a knot in the cord underneath to hold it suspended) or tie the corks. Wrap the end of the cord around the handles of the cutlery and tie tightly.
  6. Hang your mobile in a sunny spot on a porch, or from a tree, and admire its colorful, sparkly movement in the breeze!

What crafts do you do to upcycle your trash? Share your favorites in the comments below!

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.

  • Jo A. 4 years ago
    what a cool idea
  • Nancy M. 5 years ago
    Great idea
  • Elizabeth O. 5 years ago
    My granddaughter likes to do crafts, so we recycle the plastic containers that lunch meat and deli items come in from the store. Making everything from jewelry boxes, gift boxes, bird feeders to making wind chimes. It's amazing the things you came make from "discards".
  • Phyllis L. 5 years ago
    I have been saving tissue boxes since I read about them. Have used a few of them for storing odds and ends in the bathroom and kitchen so far has worked out well.
  • Dawn W. 5 years ago
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