5 Minutes, 5 Items, 3 Easy Projects

We asked our program staff if they could create something fun that parents with young children can duplicate.

The challenge? Do it in five minutes using five recyclable items and basic household craft supplies.

Here are the results:

All projects are suitable for parent and child to create together and discuss or play later.



  • Plastic strawberry box
  • Empty plastic water bottle
  • Large snack box
  • Small snack box
  • Empty toilet paper roll

CRAFT IDEA 1: Create an activity center


Work on fine motor skills while feeding into a child’s will to stuff things in small holes by cutting up pieces of string or paper or pulling out small sticks for kids to put in bottle.hands

Make a ball toss out of the plastic box.

Use a small box to store crayons.

Use large box to hold blank cards for drawing or cards with magazine photos to play a matching or identifying game. Take this one on a shopping trip, inserting cards with items on the shopping list for child to pull out, identify and hunt for.

Use and decorate another box as an award bin, storing small special award tokens received or created.

CRAFT IDEA 2: Create an ecology board


Children have lots of imagination. Encourage creativity and discovery by making a land or sea life scene with animals, potential dangers and needs. First 5 staff decided on the ocean, using cutouts from a snack box. Talk about what kinds of things can be found in the ocean. Create a chute with the toilet paper roll to encourage kids to feed the animals. DSC_1187Ask questions like “what do you think fish like to eat?” The rest of the recyclables were used to demonstrate how there is trash in the ocean. “How did it get there?” “Can fishy play or eat it?” “What can we do to keep their home clean?”

CRAFT IDEA 3: Create a game


Here, staff created a maze race with obstacles for children to follow with a small ball or toy car. Stack boxes for kids to go over or slide down with game piece. Or, open them up, so their game piece can roll through. Make a pit stops to talk about shapes, colors or compare sizes. Everyone is a winner. Decide on an award or silly jig for the end of the race.maze car

“There is a lot of inspiration around us that we can see every day and turn into projects.”

-Martha Stewart

What would you do for this challenge? Share your ideas with us in a comment below.