Category Archives: crafts (recycled materials)

Firefly Lanterns Powered By Bioluminescence: Made From Glass Juice Bottles and Salvaged Wire

Catching fireflies is the quintessential children’s summer evening activity. Every new generation is captivated by these magical blinking moving lights and instinctively wants to know the source.
Make one today or If you are having a summer party that will continue after dark, make a bunch for your young guests.

How to make a firefly lantern:

Save your empty glass juice bottles. Take off the label and clean it.
Use scrap electrical wire to make the handle for your lantern; you will need a piece about 30 inches long. We had some pieces left over from an addition to our house. You might try calling an electrician in your area; maybe they could give you some scraps that would otherwise just go in the dumpster. How-to make the handle:

1. Start on one side of the lamp (point A), go half way around (point B).
2. At point B, bend the wire up for the handle. After you form the loop for the handle, you should end up on the other side of the bottle (point A; where you started).
3. At point A, bend the wire end around the handle loop to secure it.
4. The wire will continue around the neck of the bottle and attach at point B. Use wire cutters to trim off extra wire.

It is a lot easier done than said.

You will want to cover the top of the bottle to prevent the fireflies from prematurely escaping. You could put holes in the cap and use that. Or trace a large cup on a scrap piece of fabric and cut out with pinking shears if you have them. That circle of fabric is held in place with an elastic band. I have a little stash of elastic bands that came off of vegetables or other packaging. You will find a second use for them in projects like this and many others.

Did you know that there are thousands of different species of fireflies? Fireflies blink to attract a mate but some mimic the blinking pattern of a different species of firefly in order to lure them near so they can eat them. Yikes!

Did you know that Fireflies produce light via a chemical reaction?

Find out more about fireflies at The Firefly Files or National Geographic.

Have any other bright ideas or a clever variation? Send me an e-mail and I will pass on your great ideas.
Are any of the directions unclear? If you have any questions about this project or any other, send me an e-mail. -Jane

Recycle Your Plastic Laundry Detergent Bottles Into Cool Beach Buckets And Scoops.

Thinking about buying a bucket and shovel for the kids before your summer vacation to the beach? Why not make your own and save money while reducing waste. MYO bucket is a quick summer project.

Treasure collecting bucket with shoulder strap.

Treasure hunt.

Future marine biologists can use their buckets to study sea critters. Whether observing a jellyfish’s movements or learning how a crab walks, these recycled plastic buckets are perfect.

These scoops are great for making sandcastles. No need for a shovel.

Fun in the sun.


  1. Do a little dumpster diving (look through your own or a friends recycle bin). Search for brightly colored plastic bottles of different sizes.
  2. Cut off the top of the bottle to make a bucket or the bottom to make a scoop. A box cutter works well but can be dangerous (adult use only). In most cases I found that scissors worked just as well.
  3. Find a piece of thin rope. I salvaged a piece of rope from an old tent that was destined for the dump.
  4. Make a hole (on the side opposite the handle) with a nail and thread the rope through it. Next use the bowline knot to secure it. Make another loop with the bowline knot attached to the existing handle of the bottle. Don’t know how to make a bowline knot? Fun In The Making shows you how. How-to: Bowline knot.
  5. Have a wonderful summer exploring at the beach!

Noteworthy Knot Knowledge: How to Tie a Bowline Knot

The bowline knot is extremely useful in many craft projects. Using the image of a rabbit will help you and your kids (if you have any) to tie this knot. It is not too hard to master (an eight-year-old is tying the knot in the pictures above). The advantage of the bowline is that it forms a loop that will not pull out no matter how hard you pull. Another nice thing about this knot is that it is easy to undo.

Recycled Sweater and/or T-Shirt Pennant Swags

Front view

Back view

Pennant swags strung between poles.

Liven up a birthday party, beach party, or child’s room with these easy to make pennant swags!

How-to: Gather some thin sweaters and/or t-shirts in lively colors. Make yourself a triangle stencil out of an old cereal box or whatever. My triangles were 7 ¼ inches along the top edge and about 8 ¾ inches along the sides. You can make your triangles bigger if you prefer. The easiest way to make all your triangles is to use a rotary cutter. Using one is not necessary but sure is fast. Unlike the rotary cutter, when using scissors, you will need to trace your stencil before cutting. I liked to use the hemmed bottom edge of a shirt as the top edge of the pennants. I think it gives it a little bit more of a finished look to the swags. Work around any stains or worn places. Lay out your shirt flat on a cutting mat. You will be cutting two triangles at a time. After cutting out all the triangles, arrange them in the order you would like. You can be creative here. Next use a sewing machine to make one long running stitch attaching the pennants to the ribbon. Leave room at each end of your ribbon to make a loop or leave enough extra ribbon for trying.When using outside, I tie them to bamboo poles.

Creative Rockets For Play or Display Made From Recycled Junk

I’m not going to give you step by step instructions, rather, I hope to spark your imagination. I will, however, supply a few tips.

Start collecting supplies. Over the next week (more or less) keep an eye out for rocket parts. Ask friends to check their recycle bin for you.

Note: Keep an “arts and crafts junk box” for kids’ projects. Inside the box add bits and bobs of “trash” such as plastic bottles that have been cleaned out, Styrofoam trays, bottle tops, thread spools, used but clean popsicle sticks, toilet paper rolls…

This rocket was made from all recycled parts

Adjusting the circumference of your cylinder is easy.

The above rocket needed the toilet paper roll to fit snugly in the top of a paper towel tube.

The nose of a rocket can be made this way.

Design your own spacecraft. I call this The Penguin for obvious reasons.

Make a space themed mobile . Don’t forget to add a few asteroids or some silly aliens.