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By Erin Turner ::  The Learning Sanctuary

As children develop, their naturally inquisitive minds search for new things to do and play with. Instead of buying pricey toy cars, boats, puppets or dolls, why not help your child create their own toys by using household items you have at your fingertips? This is known as ‘up-cycling’.

Children enjoy engaging with open-ended resources to build upon their imagination. These art and craft experiences support them to develop new skills.

Montessori learning environments like what you’ll find at The Learning Sanctuary Montessori can also be implemented within your home by using everyday house hold items or materials. As parents and educators we can support children’s learning by allowing them time to ask questions and taking the concept they are engaged in one step further.

Want to get creative with your children?

Here are a few fun and cost effective ways we can do this using house hold items.

a milk carton pirate ship 


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Every pirate needs a ship right!? Offer your children hours of imaginative fun with this simple art and craft milk carton pirate ship experience. You probably have the resources sitting around at home already.

What you need

:: Milk carton

:: Scissors

:: Paper

:: 4 paper straws

:: Glue

:: Tape

:: Stapler

:: Stickers

Make the ship/boat body

1. Clean the milk carton/box.

2. Lay the milk carton on its side and fold the opening in, so the milk carton looks like it is unopened, if you are using a box fold and fold it to make a point. This will form the bow of the pirate ship. Tape or staple this point/bow into place.

3. (With adult supervision) Carefully cut the side of the carton/box off, so that there are three sealed sides and one open. The open side will form the inside of the boat.

4. Glue paper over your box/milk carton, or if you like just decorate the box as you wish.

Making and attaching the sails

1. Tape two straws together.

2. Cut out two rectangles of paper, one smaller than the other.

3. Cut two slits in the centre of your first rectangle. Slide the straw through the slits.
Repeat with second rectangle. (Depending on the age and stage of the children, you may like to just tape the triangles to the straws to create the sails).

4. Add some stickers or other decoration of your choice to finish your ship, you are now ready to sail the high seas!

Animal, people or character art rocks

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Children love animals, drawing faces, people and of course creating new and exciting characters to explore with. Collect a few rocks and some paint and get crafting today.

Using rocks of different shapes, sizes and textures allows children to explore their senses and develop shape and size recognition.

Montessori Pillar: Sensorial (training of senses), Allows children to experience and understand visual, touch, smell, taste, hearing and movement.

What you need

:: Paper and pen for drawing your ideas to later copy and transfer onto the rock

:: Rocks, any shapes, sizes or colour

:: Sharpie pen or other permanent marker

:: Paints

:: Paint brushes


1. Clean the rock and allow it to dry completely.

2. Paint your rock with a base colour. Allow paint to dry.

3. Use the permanent marker to draw your animal, person, characters details and decorate as you wish.

This rock design art experience offers children the provocation to explore role play through the characters they created or re-create different things they have seen in their environments and bring them to life.

Balloon Car Craft

Rubber band the balloon to the straw, inflate it and pop it down… the expelled air will make it go!


Image credit: Via

What you need

:: Cardboard tube (paper/toilet roll)

:: 3 straws and 2 skewers

:: Paint and brushes

:: Tape and scissors

:: Rubber bands

:: Plastic lids of and jars (wheels)



1. Paint the cardboard tubes.

2. To make the wheels and the axel: poke holes in the middle of the plastic lids and place the skewers through these holes, cover the skewers with the straws first though to help them slide through.

3. Use the tape to attach the straws (axel) to the bottom/underneath of the tube.

4. Use a rubber band to attach the balloon to the end of a bendy straw, you should now be able to inflate your balloon.

5. Tape the balloon and the straw to the top of the car.

Three, two, one…. Race!

As Centre Manager of The Learning Sanctuary Norwood – Montessori I am lucky enough to see children enjoying creating and learning using upcycled materials each day.

Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest! Enjoy the little moments.

By  Erin Turner ::  The Learning Sanctuary

:: Sponsored ::

Hayley Pearson

Hayley Pearson

Co-Creator and Writer for Adelady, she still gets goosebumps that she’s combined her creative passion with sharing the best of her stunning home state.

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