Recycled art in preschool

This recycled art activity was such a fun process!

I don’t know about you, but coming across good quality cardboard isn’t cheap. Most of the time we use cardboard display boards from the dollar store. But, every once in awhile we come across a piece of cardboard that makes a perfect canvas. This time around, it came from one of those meal delivery services. If you didn’t know, those boxes are insulated and come with a metallic silver side that’s just asking to be made into something!

Gathering the Supplies

This is a process art project, so the possibilities are endless. You could use paint, lids, yarn, nature items, what ever your heart desires! In this instance, we were talking about rainbows, so I chose colorful squares of tissue paper and glue. I made sure to cut the boards nicely so that each child had around the same sized canvas.

Setting up the Invitation

To set up the invitation to play for this center, I kept things neat and self-explanatory. I knew I wasn’t going to give the students much direction as to what they were going to do or what the project was “supposed” to look like. I made sure each spot had a canvas, a glue bottle, a paint brush, a sharpie, and an assortment of tissue paper!

Letting the Students get to Work

Following circle time, I dismissed my students to go start where they wanted. I followed the handful of students who wanted to start with the recycled art tables. The only instruction I gave them was to write their name using the marker provided. I left the rest up for interpretation. Some students went to work right away and grabbed their glue bottle. Others observed what others were doing and followed suit.

After the students had applied enough glue to their liking, they used the brush provided to spread around the glue. Some students covered just a section of their boards, while others cover their whole board in glue.

Adding the Tissue Paper

This part was the coolest to observe. Again, I didn’t give the students any direction on how to apply the tissue paper. I simply just provided the supplies! What was amazing to watch was the difference in how each child chose to arrange their pieces of tissue paper. Some children created a rainbow while others created wonderful patterns of color. Others just applied a few squares over the whole canvas.

The End Results

At the end, I had a class set of individually unique art pieces! Each reflecting the student that created them. That’s my favorite thing about leaving art process open-ended. You never know what you’re going to get and the results are usually way better than what you expected!

Things to Consider

  • Make sure you have a good paring of supplies, at least one loose part item and either glue or paint.
  • Your canvas can be whatever you have on hand – cardboard, paper, paper plates, actual painting canvases.
  • Set up your invitation to play so that the process is self-explanatory but also open for interpretation!

Available on Amazon


Deborah J Stewart

Deborah J Stewart

Every time I think I know everything I need to know about teaching young children, God says, "Hold on a minute!" and gives me a new challenge.

Let me tell ya...

With each new challenge that you overcome, you will find yourself better equipped and more passionate about teaching young children.

God didn't call wimps to lead, teach, or care for His children. Nope, he has high expectations, so get ready. You will have to give your very best but after teaching for over 30 years, I can tell you that it is a wonderful and rewarding journey.

Whenever your calling feels hard, just remember, 'He who began a good work in you (and in the children you serve) will be faithful to complete it.'

Subscribe to My Newsletter

Latest Blog Posts

P is for Pizza!

While learning about the letter “P” we decided to explore with pizza! Pizza is an all-time favorite food for many preschoolers, and activities involving pizza

Read More »