Recycling: Old to New

Help your child experience the concept of recycling by taking something old or used and updating it into something "new" and useful again by using a little bit of imagination and cooperative effort.

  • Target Age: 5-7
  • Skills:
    • Language and Literacy Skills
    • Critical Thinking and Problem-solving Skills


  • Project suggestions: Hand-me-down, used, or old wooden items like a chair, table, toy chest, desk, stool, picture frame, wooden toy, hockey stick, skateboard, baseball bat, etc.
  • Paint, stickers, small items to decorate with, ribbon, glue, etc.
  • Optional: refinishing tools if needed (stain, sandpaper, scraper, paint removing solution, old rags, paint brushes)

Directions: Make something old into something useful and new! Begin by finding something made out of wood from the suggested list above. Then use these imaginative ideas to bring something old and used back to life as something new and useful:

  • Take an old chair and personalize it with paint, stickers, name, and fun designs.
  • Paint a stool, frame, or chest. Then add glow in the dark stickers.
  • Make a patriotic baseball bat to hang on the wall by painting red and white stripes on the bat. Then write name in blue (or use adhesive letters). Add American flag decals and glue a school picture on the bat. Spray with clear sealer for a lasting finish.
  • Create personalized picture frames for everyone in the family by painting each frame in that person's favorite color. Then glue small items that represent that person's personality or likes. Add photos and you've got it!
  • Paint and decorate wooden salad bowls for holding nick-nacks on a desktop or shelf.

Talk about It: Ask your child why recycling old unused objects into new useful objects is a good idea. Then share ideas about how recycling can help save the environment for future generations.

Take it Further: Learn more about your community's local recycling facility. Take an active role in involving family and friends by providing separate containers for recycling glass, plastic, paper, and metal items.

With a Group: Get involved! Take your group on a field trip to the local recycling facility or have a recycling representative from your community come share about his/her knowledge about the benefits and processes of recycling. Provide and label containers for group recycling. Then create simple awareness posters for posting around your meeting place or neighborhood to promote conservation and recycling.

Related Books

  • Recycle!: A Handbook for Kids by Gail Gibbons (Little, Brown & Company)
  • Clifford's Big Book of Things to Know: A Book of Fun Facts by Norman Bridwell (Scholastic)


Find more activities featuring your child’s favorite PBS KIDS character!