Obviously the best thing to do with reading material is to read it. (Then share it with a friend.) But I always end up with a few catalogs, magazines, newspapers, books from the Cheerios box, and the occasional overly-loved-beyond-repair favorites. If they’re no longer readable or in good enough condition to donate, it’s time to re-purpose!
Here are 10 fun ways to give your old reading material new life. Great for Earth Day or any day!
- Wall Art: Choose pages from a special story to create art for your child’s room or for your classroom. For the example above, I used pages from an old Wynken, Blynken and Nod book. It’s one of our favorite poems, and the three boys in the pictures remind me of my three boys. 🙂 Just frame your favorite part, or if you have lots of illustrations, make a banner.
- Story Magnets: I ended up with a random Scooby-Doo controlled reader book that no one ever reads. I cut out many of the key words and pictures, attached them to adhesive-backed magnets and created a little activity set to be used to form sentences and tell stories. The print in this book was large, so the magnets turned out to be a great size for small fingers to move around. Great for literacy centers! (Although it’s not recycling, you could also photocopy a few pages from a book and enlarge the print.)
- Inspirational Quotes: Kids can cut out words and arrange them to say something interesting, funny or inspiring. Newspapers, magazines and catalogs work well for this since the headlines are in large print and contain powerful words.
- Poetry: Same as above, but piece the words together to create a poem. Perfect for National Poetry Month and Earth Day!
- Magazine Bowls: Ok, this one takes a lot of paper and time to make a regular-sized bowl, but it’s fun. (The one in the picture took about 10 minutes and it’s the perfect size for LEGO Duplo people.) In the classroom, you could watch a short instructional video like this one, then have students take notes and write step-by-step directions for their parents to follow; or you could use or create written instructions for students to practice reading closely in order to assemble their own.
- Reuse Book Covers: This cover from Iggy Peck, Architect is now attached to a regular folder full of graph paper. It’s got a new life as a drawing journal. In the classroom it could be the cover for a group story, where every student has the chance to write a paragraph of a retelling or a brand new version of a class favorite.
- Collage Art: Re-purpose old illustrations and parts of text into new illustrations. You could write stories to go along with them. Or make collage art bookmarks or Mother’s Day cards.
- Scavenger Hunt: Give pages to kids and have them find examples of synonyms, descriptive words, rhyming words, new vocabulary, wonderful topic sentences…anything you’re studying at the moment.
- Popsicle Stick Puzzles: Cut an illustration into half-inch strips and glue each strip onto a wide popsicle stick. Kids can reassemble them as a puzzle. You can also do this with lines of text from a story. Arrange them in order to practice sequencing.
- Decorate Storage Containers: Wrap interesting pages around cans to make pencil cups or other storage items. Just seal with with Mod Podge or a spray adhesive.