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Upcycling for Earth Day: Montessori Materials You Can DIY

Aligning with the true spirit of Montessori, we’d like to dedicate some space here to valuing the earth and focus on activities that will not take a toll on our resources. When we upcycle containers and cardboard we save money and reduce our environmental impact. Further, it allows us to focus on the true Montessori principles behind the activities. Read on for upcycling ideas you can try at home!

In nature everything is transformed but nothing destroyed.
Dr. Maria Montessori
Physician and Educator
photo credit: @acraftyliving

Collection Basket from Egg Carton

Combining two household objects, a toilet paper tube and the bottom part of a cardboard egg carton, Instagrammer @acraftyliving came up with this clever basket that encourages her daughter to find things around her environment and collect them for further observation.

Food containers as noise-making toys

The clear baby food jars from Square Baby have a unique, stackable shape that makes us want to save them forever. Some families use them for storing food for a second use, but we also like them as shakers.

  • Put non-perishable items such as popcorn kernels, beans, or rice in a container.
  • Have multiple containers available? Create a set and let your child experience the different sounds and weights made by different materials in the jar.
  • If your child will be able to unscrew the lid, line the rim with glue before you screw it on tightly to prevent a mess.

Sensory Jars from Spice Containers

Many spice containers have a rubber inner lid with holes, which makes them ideal to transform into smelling jars. Place a variety of items inside. Some ideas for different fragrances:

  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Dried herbs
  • Citrus peel (will only last a couple days then need to be cleaned out)
  • Cotton balls soaked in essential oils
  • Dry foods such as almonds

Use the collection of filled jars to talk about what you are seeing and smelling.

photo credit: @southsidemomma

Diaper Wipe Package Lids as a Peekaboo Board

This clever upcycle project comes from @SouthsideMama on Instagram. She used a cutting board, family photos, and lids from wipes packages saved over time. The activity encourages practice with fine motor skills and reinforces familiarity with family members’ faces!


photo credit: @acraftyliving

Scarf Pull with Toilet Paper Tubes

This invitation to reach and coordinate both hands at once is easy to produce with a few toilet paper tubes and scarves or other pieces of fabric. The early childhood educator behind @acraftyliving used blue painter’s tape to adhere the tubes to the wall and encourage her

Other favorite materials for upcycling projects include egg cartons for sorting, gift boxes for stacking, small containers for practicing opening and closing, and paper tubes for creating fine motor challenges. 

If you make something for your child to play with, tag us on social media at @montikids so we can see it!

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