Tutorial + How-to Marble Run

Published on July 5th, 2010 | by Julie Finn

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Find Kids’ Crafts Using Recycled Materials at Family Fun Online

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I’m the kind of mean momma who does not do Disney.

My little daughter is a self-styled princess, sure, but she’s more of a fairy tale princess, a Princess and the Pea princess. Her contexts for Cinderella and Snow White are completely different, and she doesn’t know who Belle and Jasmine are at all.

I do, however, love myself some Family Fun magazine. It’s part of the great Disney war machine, and I was not pleased when each issue began to include an entire page of Disney worship, but the magazine itself is just my speed–quirky, thematically appropriate, cheap craft projects and hands-on activities for active children.

My favorite thing about Family Fun magazine, and its free online counterpart, Family Fun, is its emphasis on crafts made from natural and recycled materials. Wenona raved about Family Fun’s nature crafts earlier, but here’s a round-up of Family Fun’s best crafts made from recycled materials, all with free online tutorials:

  1. Cardboard tube marble runs. The photo above is a refrigerator marble run, but this free-form marble run is actually even more fun, since you can make it waaaaaaay bigger. We make this marble run around Christmas, when it’s easy to snag wrapping paper tubes from family members.
  2. Soda can luminaria. My favorite part of this project is that it utilizes a pole (Family Fun uses a dowel, but we use a stick) so that children can carry around their lantern in relative safety, with supervision. We don’t buy aluminum cans ourselves, but when offered a can of soda or beer at a party, we’ll often take the empty can home to craft with before recycling.
  3. Glitter globes. As in the sand art project, this project utilizes all those little odd jars, containing anything from spaghetti sauce to artichoke hearts, that you inevitably collect from the grocery store. Mind you, I have never used the FIMO clay as called for in this tutorial; we always use a strong epoxy glue on the inside of the jar lid, and more epoxy glue to make sure that the lid stays closed and little girls can’t drink the glycerin- and glitter-spiked water inside.
  4. Bottle cap snake. This project does require some dedicated bottle cap collecting, but the result is a toy that is super fun, with a satisfying heft to it and loads of possibilities for imaginative play.
  5. Plastic bag pom-poms. For dress-up or Halloween costumes or just plain cheering, these plastic bag pom-poms are a vastly preferable product to brand-new store-bought versions. The plastic bags aren’t much altered in the creation of the craft, so they’re still recyclable when your kid gets tired of her toy.

See? Not a single Disney princess in the mix!

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



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