Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

Activity: Junk Art

Grade Level:
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Activity Overview: This activity focuses on the “reuse” theme of reduce-reuse-recycle. Students collect waste materials (paper, bottles, cans, cardboard tubes, fabric, etc) and find other uses for them either practically, for a school project, or as art objects. Cutting utensils or sharp objects may not be suitable for younger students, but otherwise this is an activity for students of all ages.

Activity 1: Recycled Puppets


  • empty salt boxes
  • serrated knife
  • colored markers
  • fabric scissors (old)
  • fabric (clothing, sheets, curtains)
  • stapler
  • ribbons or lace scraps


  1. Cut the tops off the saltboxes for students. Then have the students draw faces on the tops.
  2. Cut the fabric into 8 inch by 8 inch pieces. Help students staple the cloth around the rim of the box top. Staple the open seam together.
  3. Have students staple ribbon or lace around the cloth edges. To make the puppet talk, students move the spout back and forth.

Reuse puppets in a play or use as an environmental message.

Activity taken from Integrated Thematic Units, Copyright © 1992  Scholastic, Inc. TES course 1994

Activity 2: Diorama


  • steel and aluminum cans
  • paper and newspaper
  • rags and old clothes
  • well-loved or out-of-use school supplies
  • cardboard boxes
  • crates
  • shoeboxes


Students work individually or in groups to decide a scene from a book either read in class or at home to illustrate. Using the shoebox as a “stage,” students should recreate the scene or setting, reusing as many materials as necessary to tell the story. Pencils too short to write can become a fence, and small cardboard boxes can serve as buildings in the setting. Creativity counts, and the more materials used again rather than on first use, the better.


Students can create an original scene or setting and then write a story to accompany it. Encourage students to employ a conservationist or environmental theme when composing their original works of literature.


SCI.K.1A, SCI.1.1A, SCI.2.1A, SCI.3.1A, SCI.4.1A, SCI.5.1A, SCI.6.1A, SCI.7.1A, SCI.8.1A

SCI.K.1B, SCI.1.1B, SCI.2.1B, SCI.3.1B, SCI.4.1B, SCI.5.1B, SCI.6.1B, SCI.7.1B, SCI.8.1B

SCI.K.2A, SCI.1.2A, SCI.2.2A, SCI.3.2A, SCI.4.2A, SCI.5.2A, SCI.6.2A, SCI.7.2A, SCI.8.2A

ELA.K.14A, ELA.1.18A, ELA.2.18A, ELA.3.18A, ELA.4.16A, ELA.5.16A, ELA.6.15A, ELA.7.15A, ELA.8.15


ART.1.2A, ART.2.2A, ART.3.2A, ART.4.2A, ART.5.2A, ART.1.2B, ART.2.2B, ART.3.2B, ART.4.2B, ART.5.2B, MS1.2A, MS2.2A, MS3.2A, MS1.2B, MS2.2B, MS3.2B, MS1.2C, MS2.2C, MS3.2C

Watt Watchers of Texas is a Partner Program of Smart Energy Education.
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