With all that’s going on the world, we can forgive ourselves for letting Earth Day slip through the cracks. It’s hard enough to plan for the day ahead—let alone an elaborate art project to teach kids how to recycle. Fortunately, you don’t have to go all-out (or go outside) to create some fun Earth Day crafts at home!
Nurture Life’s whimsical meal packages feature creative scenes built from brightly colored, nutritious foods—think potato turkeys, cauliflower chickens, sunny-side-up sunsets and pineapple islands. They’re the perfect starting point for easy cardboard projects that will inspire your kids and, let’s be honest, keep them distracted for a precious hour or two.
Stay inside, stay busy and have fun dreaming up adorable art made from recycled materials!
1. Recreate the Scene
As one of the quickest and easiest recycling activities for kids, have your little one choose their favorite Nurture Life meal and recreate the scene with crayons, colored pencils, markers, paint or even collage-style pieces of torn-up construction paper.
For some friendly competition, turn it into a game: everyone studies the package for 60 seconds and then has to redraw it from memory. Focus on getting all the details right—like the red bell pepper “gills” of the fish or the broccoli trees in the background. Whoever includes the most correct foods wins!
2. Create a New Scene
Cut out a character from the scene, paste it on a piece of construction paper and have your kid draw their own imaginative scene around it. To throw in some language skills, you could also cut out letters from the box and ask your kid to spell out words related to their drawing. Watch as “Nurture Life” becomes “fun” or “Teriyaki Salmon” spells out “monkey”!
3. Draw Friends
Instead of a single character, use multiple boxes to cut out different characters and draw a scene where these “food friends” are playing, learning or exploring together. Since your kids are probably missing their real friends right about now, you could encourage them to imagine themselves and their friends as the characters. What are they doing? What are they saying to each other?
To turn this idea into multiple cardboard crafts, try taping the characters to a window and using dry erase markers to create the scene. For every day that you’re stuck at home, you can erase the previous day’s scene and—viola!—you already have a new activity set up and ready to go. Snap pictures of each day’s drawing and make it a competition to see who can create the silliest, most intricate or most hilarious scene of all.
4. Make a Garland
Garlands make for very easy crafts for kids, requiring nothing more than some scissors and string. Cut out your kid’s favorite characters from Nurture Life boxes and hang them as a colorful garland to display in the kitchen. You could even hang it on the fridge as a fun reminder of the meals you have available. Let your little ones choose their next meal by pointing to the character.
5. Create Stand-up Characters
Cut out a different part of the cardboard box and tape it to the back of the cut-out character so that it stands up. These characters could be displayed in your kid’s room, brought out at playtime or even used as a “table buddy” to encourage picky eaters to eat. (Your little one can “feed” the character a bite of food before taking a bite themselves, similar to Milton the Mealtime Companion, one of our favorite picky eater tools).
6. Put on a Puppet Show
Cut out different characters, glue them on popsicle sticks and make a little family puppet show out of your recycled crafts for kids! Work together with your kids to brainstorm story ideas and write a simple script. If your little one is too young to participate in this way, you could put on the puppet show yourself using your signature cast of bedtime story voices.
7. Focus on the Food
One benefit of using Nurture Life meal packages as the basis for cardboard box crafts is that it gives you a natural, no-pressure way to talk about food with your kids. Have your child cut out a character, glue it on a piece of paper and then use crayons or colored pencils to draw arrows to the different ingredients.
Ask your child to describe the ingredients aloud or on paper, using these questions for guidance:
- What color is this food? Does it come in more than one color?
- What does it taste like?
- Does it remind you of anything?
- How does it make you feel when you eat it?
- What does it feel like in your fingers or your mouth?
- What does it smell like?
8. Invent New Characters
Taking our imaginative characters as an example, have your little ones draw completely new characters made from other healthy ingredients. For more inspiration, you could give them fun names and occupations like Mr. Cherry Tomato, Dr. Ava Blueberry or Professor Yogurt.
Your little one will definitely be able to create cool cardboard crafts from foods they already like—but bonus points if they can draw a fun character for a food they don’t like! Every opportunity to become more familiar with something “scary” or “yucky” will help your child become more open to trying new foods.
9. Turn It Into a Story
You can easily make a creative writing prompt out of any of these recycling projects for kids. Just ask your child to write a poem, play or story about the scene they’ve created!
Some kids really run with open-ended prompts, but others feel more inspired when they have additional information to work with. Try providing some creative constraints by asking your child to include certain elements in their story: maybe there’s a playground in the scene or the chicken is wearing a business suit or there’s a mysterious shadow lurking in the broccoli forest.
10. Animate It!
To turn your Earth Day crafts into something super creative, create a stop motion animation! This added step will make your kid’s project more fun to share with friends or family members over text or video chat, and it’ll also help the project take up more time (a lifesaver if you’re trying to work from home with kids). There are many free, kid-friendly apps for stop motion animation, so find one that seems simple and let your little one animate potato cows on a journey off the farm or tomato tractors driving into a broccoli forest.
How are your kids getting creative with Nurture Life meal packaging? We’d love to hear how you’re using our food characters to keep your kids busy, active and engaged as we all stay home to stay healthy! Share your favorite cardboard crafts for kids by tagging us on Instagram @nurturelife with #whatkidsdeserve or by messaging us at firstname.lastname@example.org.