10 Toys & Crafts You Can Make From Trash

Kids can be… a handful, to say the least. So today, we’re here to share a few creative ways to help get your kid off the couch and to jump-start his or her imagination. It’s time to raid the recycle bin and start crafting some incredible toys and gadgets from trash. Besides, every now and then we like to have a little fun here at the PBS blog! If you’re in the mood for a laugh, check out our post on the World’s Best Outhouses.

Marble Maze

This toy is fantastic because it’s easy to make, the parts are easy to find, and you can add to it endlessly. Round up some cardboard tubes (like the kind you’d get from toilet paper, paper towels, etc), some popsicle sticks, and something firm for a base (like a to-go drink holder or part of a box), and you can make a marble maze that’s sure to entertain for hours. The best part is, toys like these are ripe for tinkering and experimentation. You can always add more elements, build other marble mazes to compare against your first one, or combine several together to create a massive maze.

Arts and Crafts Windsock

This one is a bit more of an arts and crafts project, but fun nonetheless. With an embroidery hoop (although frankly any circular object like a hula hoop or the bottom of a gallon milk jug will do) and a bit of ribbon or shredded paper, you can make a surprisingly festive windsock. You can find a helpful instruction guide for making one of these here.

Static Cling Toys

This one’s for the scientifically-inclined child. With only a plastic ruler and some pieces of paper, you can demonstrate the fascinating properties of static cling, potentially launching your child down a path of curious, life-long intellectual inquiry.


Start by cutting some fun shapes out of paper with your child. Then, rub a plastic ruler against a polyester fabric, and bring the ruler towards the paper cutouts. The paper will be attracted to the ruler by electrostatic cling, making for a truly display. When your child inevitably asks why they get the results they do, spend the afternoon doing a bit of googling and talking with them. You never know what could be formative.

Homemade Lanterns

This project is great for play at dusk, although you’ll want to make sure you’re around to help with this one. Have your child draw a simple pattern on a tin can using only dots (probably nothing more complicated than a smiley face or a heart). Then, using a hammer and screwdriver, you can knock out tiny holes in the side of the can, making a lantern with a fun pattern. Give your kids a flashlight to shine into the can, and they’ll have something to light the way on their adventures in the back yard.

Pop Tab Bracelet

With a little patience, some ribbon, and a bunch of those little metal beverage tabs, your child can make a bracelet.

Here’s a helpful Youtube video on making these, and there are dozens more floating around if this one isn’t to your liking.

Bowling Kit

This classic example is incredibly easy to make. First, save or rescue ten two-liter plastic bottles, then spend an afternoon decorating them. You could cover them in paper or fill them with colorful sand. Do whatever you (or your child) can imagine, plastic bottles are excellent canvases. After you’re done decorating, your kids have a bowling kit they can use time and time again. (Tip: fill the bottles with something to give them some heft, so they don’t fall over if the wind blows or someone shoots them a strong look).

Toilet Paper Racers

This project is a bit more involved than the others on this list, but it’s worth the extra effort. With no more than some used toilet paper rolls and something to color with, you can make a series of race cars (“zoom” noises not included). If you’re willing to take this an extra step, here’s a guide to making these with functional cardboard wheels, although you can simply tape them if the actual rolling of the wheels isn’t an issue.

Totem Pole

This project is a great way to get the whole family involved. Save some large plastic containers, like gallon milk jugs or coffee containers, and locate something straight like an old broom pole or yardstick. When you have enough, everyone can decorate a jug, and stack them together into a totem pole for the backyard. We recommend a minimalist design style, coloring the jugs in a solid color, then using simple shapes like thick lines, rectangles, etc. for the best result (it’s never too early to get your kids into Rothko, anyway).

Toilet Paper Train

This project is perfect for the train-obsessed child. With some toilet paper rolls, some bottle caps, and some string, you have basically everything you need to make a little choo-choo-train. Like everything else on this list, this project has ample room for decoration as an activity in and of itself. Here’s a link to help you through the process of making one of these.

Cardboard Box Bonanza

When it comes to cardboard boxes, the possibilities are endless. Cars. Doll beds. Castles. Kitchens. Restaurants. If it’s rigid and vaguely square-shaped, a cardboard box can suit your needs. Parents.com has an excellent set of fun crafts you can make out of cardboard boxes and other things you probably have lying around the home. We personally were fond of this cardboard car, using a plastic plate as a steering wheel to take your child wherever their heart desires.


We hope you and your child have fun with these ideas. For more Helpful Recycling Tips, visit our blog! Of course, if your waste management and disposal needs require something a bit more heavy-duty than a recycling bin, give PBS Services a call.

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