Recycle Bin Project

Many years ago, we created this recycle bin project, using materials found in our recycle bin. You could create practically anything from our recycled crafts list using items that are going to be thrown away or recycled. The benefit is that these items are free and they develop all of the skills that kids crafting does. As a therapy tool this is great for building fine motor skills, visual motor skills, and more.

Let’s see what we made…

Recycle Bin Project

We used a few items from the recycle bin:

  • Empty cereal box
  • Paper tube
  • Empty cracker boxes

We also used a few items from our craft supplies: masking tape and markers

The nice thing about a recycle bin project is that the sky is the limit! All you need is the items in the recycling container and your imagination.

Develop Skills with a Recycling Bin Project

Just look at the skills kids develop with an activity as simple as building with cardboard and tape.

Child writing on paper by cardboard creation made from old cereal box, cardboard tube, and cracker boxes






Multi-step planning, Handwriting, Cutting, Coloring, Painting, Taping, Tearing, Creativity, Imagination…this one’s got it all 🙂

Big Sister and I had a couple of hours to ourselves when the other kids were napping one afternoon. We went on a hunt for crafting materials in an interesting place…the recycle bin!

I pulled the boxes out and Big Sister used her imagination to decide what to make with them. She came up with a plan…a castle for barbie!

Child drawing on a notebook

Cardboard castle made from recycling bin materials

She helped me to tear the tape and construct the castle, instructing me what we needed to do first, and second, and third…We decided to work on a list. Big Sister wrote each word on a page in her notebook and she would turn the page as we did that part. (This was such a great planning project!) 
She said we needed to make a flag for the castle, so I told her how to spell “flag”. 
This age is so much fun. She asks all the time how to spell words as she writes them out. 
After she wrote the word, she drew her flag and colored it in. She cut out the shape and taped it to her flag pole (paper towel tube).
Child painting a paper blue and a notebook with "moat" written in child's writing

Child tearing blue paper in half



The moat: strips of water colored paper taped together. Tearing paper is a fantastic fine motor activity.
It works on the intrinsic muscles of the hands to hold the paper while using a Tripod Grasp to hold the paper.
Child tearing blue paper into strips
Babies woke up…They played a fun game of  “put some markers into a box and then take them out”.
Babies putting markers into a cardboard box
Babies reaching into a cardboard box to grab colorful markers
They loved it.
We took the whole thing outside and painted it, added stickers, and stuck on gems.
Cardboard castle made from Cheerios cereal box, pasta box, cracker box, and cardboard tube.
And played.
Cardboard castle with barbies and Ken
The bad guys even showed up…This is The Green Lantern sneaking into the castle.
Child reaching their hand into the door of a cardboard castle
Not bad for some old boxes. Lots of creativity in that trash!

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to


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