Do you enjoy repurposing and upcycling materials into new things? Do you try to instill your children with the ability to be resourceful and mindful of their footprint on the environment? Then here’s a challenge for you!
Every two months I host a Creative Challenge with the introduction of a new material and an invitation for children to create something from it. The objective of these challenges is to encourage children to trust their own ideas, build creative confidence, and envision new purposes for common objects.
The rules of the game are simple: projects must include the challenge material, they should be be child-directed, but grown-ups are welcome to join in the fun if the mood strikes.
For this ninth creative challenge, children are invited to transform an egg carton into whatever they can dream up. To participate, all are invited to add a photo to a comment or add a blog post to the Linky at the end of this post. Over forty bloggers and readers let me know in advance that they would participate and I hope that this will be an inspirational space for parents and caregivers who want to encourage creative thinking in their kids.
And, the fabulous kids’ activity crate subscription service, Kiwi Crate, is gracious enough to offer a free crate to one randomly selected winner. Read to the end for details.
We’ve been staring at egg cartons for weeks now, and my three year old hasn’t been too excited to manipulate this object. Yikes.
So I set up an invitation that she was eager to accept: Six small bottles of acrylic paint, a paper plate (palette), three brushes, and an egg carton.
She squeezed the paint onto the palette in rainbow order, and then painted each cavity a different color. A few minutes before I snapped this photo she mixed all the colors on another palette together and made the putty grey color you see on the right side of the crate.
She loved the name “putty grey” and made up a little song about it as she painted. I used this as an opportunity to encourage her to invent her own color names, but she didn’t bite.
I thought it could be fun to fill the holes with objects and natural materials that corresponded to the paint colors. She was less than enthusiastic about this idea and asked me to throw everything back into the garden.
As we developed a new game plan, a couple of her favorite friends stopped by and invited us to make lemonade with them.
But they didn’t have any lemons. How did they know that we did?
Cue: lemonade diversion…
A few hours later my toddler and I found a fun way to use the carton, and it reminds me of a baby version of that shell game you sometimes see on street corners of Manhattan. But no gambling here, I promise.
After noticing her interest in filling the egg carton with small toys, I filled each cavity with a plastic egg shell and then poured some glass bead treasures in a few eggs.
The treasures are great for burying in the sand box to dig up and discover, sprinkling around a garden, or pouring into a water table. You do have to be careful with small children who like to mouth little objects, and because of that we haven’t played with these for a while. But when you can confidently play with them, they sparkle and make everything more spectacular.
I loosely covered each egg and then my 1.5 year old had to find the treasures. She loved this! When she opened an empty egg she’d say, “Not there!”, but would shriek with laughter when she opened an egg filled with treasure.
This carried us until bath time, and I then I packed the game right up in the carton, ready to play again tomorrow.
Thank you to the following blogs for participating in the challenge:
Child Central Station, Red Ted Art, Sun Hats & Wellie Boots, Teach Preschool, The Chocolate Muffin Tree , The Golden Gleam, Glittering Muffins, Inspiration Laboratories, Kitchen Counter Chronicles, Living At The Whiteheads Zoo, Make, Do & Friend, Mama Mia’sheart2heart, NurtureStore, PlayDrMom, Rainy Day Mum, The Imagination Tree, Toddler Approved, Reading Confetti, Kindergarten & Preschool for Parents & Teachers, RainbowsWithinReach, Mommy Labs, Green Owl Art, Reusecrafts, The Outlaw Mom Blog, HappyLittleMesses, Experimenting-Mom, Duck Duck Octopus, PaintCutPaste, Train Up a Child, Growing A Jeweled Rose , Coffee Cups and Crayons, Ready. Set. Read!, Scribble Doodle and Draw, Carrots Are Orange, JDaniel4’s Mom, Quirky Momma, A Mom With A Lesson Plan, Good Long Road, Two2Read
Check out their posts here, or add your own:
Thank you to our lovely sponsor, Kiwi Crate, for their ongoing support and generous giveaway. One lucky Tinkerlab reader will receive a free crate.
To enter to win, please leave a comment by Sunday, April April 15, 2012. And if you have material ideas for future challenge, I’d love to hear them.
Winner will be selected by random number generator and must have a U.S. address. Good luck!
A winner has been selected! Thank you to everyone who entered.
Thank you for hosting such a fantastic challenge! I ADORE your challenges and I LOVE seeing what everyone made.
And I’m thrilled as usual that you’re part of them, Maggy. Too bad we live eons away from each other!
Another great challenge! So many great ideas for egg cartons. Â I love your idea for matching objects from nature to the colors your little one painted on the egg carton.
Thanks, Trisha. I hope this will be a good resource for parents and teachers in search of egg carton inspiration, and your contribution is fab!
I love that you included all the things you tried as well as what ended up being te winner :D. I loved all of the ideas and especially the nature colour matching.
Thanks, Jess. In my experience with kids, things can evolve in such surprising, organic ways. Â I loved the color matching too, and I’m sure we’ll try it again one day soon.
I like the idea of inviting children to try their own ideas. I think your daughter had fun with it.
I’m all about inviting my kids to test and explore their own ideas. It builds confidence and develops critical thinking skills. And I think they had fun too, Natalie! 🙂
Â Thank you so much for hosting this amazing challenge again – we really love joining in. I’ve got some eggs left over from Easter and know 2 toddlers that would love this game
And thank YOU Cerys for participating. I love your contributions and look forward to doing this again in two months!
I love the colour hunt idea. I would love to see what people can make with blankets.
Blankets!! That’s a fun idea. I can imagine all sorts of forts, but the beauty of these challenges is the range of responses. Thanks for the idea.
i love how child-centered and process-oriented you remain, and the way you write about it each step of the way. this is one of the things makes you and your blog stand out. AND these fun creative challenges you invite us into — THANK YOU for you. xoÂ
Child-oriented projects are so important to me and central to my philosophy of creative development. I’m so happy to hear that this shines through my posts and hope that these sorts of real-world projects can serve as a bit of inspiration to parents or teachers. And thank YOU for the big role you play in these challenges. xo
I really liked you matching colors in nature idea… you should try that one again. Â As always thank you for being such an inspiring force! Â What materials could we use??? Â Corks? Â Bottle caps? Â Plastic water bottles? How about old stained cloths?
My son would love the hunt for nature colors. I’ll have to try it this week. I’ve been debating Kiwi Crate for awhile now. I’d love to have one to try out.
I love your singular focus on making the projects child-driven and process-oriented. I loved the story of how it came together.
This is what I love about your challenges – about trusting your child to come up with his/her own ways of exploring, playing, creating. I totally resonate with this philosophy 🙂
Rachelle, Thank you for the wonderful egg carton challenge. I was unable to post our egg carton flower garden post. So I just made a roundup post of all our egg carton play http://creativitymypassion.blogspot.com/2012/04/8-ways-to-upcycleuse-styrofoam-egg.html
I love the game your little one ended up with! And also that it has its own carrying case 🙂 Â I can’t wait until my youngest is finished putting everything in his mouth. Â Maybe in a month when he’s 2? I hope!
love how you started with one thing and ended up with another! Great game that can be cleaned up in it’s own crate for another day!
Fun ideas! Â Love all of the entries! Â We recycle our crates back to Papaw’s house to refill with eggs, but I may have to snag one for creative exploration! Â 🙂
Nikki @ TamingAnimals.com
how great. I have extra egg cartons. I wonder what my 18 month old will do with it..
I love it. And always have fun trying to come up with ideas to use material and objects again for a new purpose instead of just throwing them away. I can’t wait to search though all the links that are up already.Â
I have been compiling egg cartons just waiting for some ideas, thank you!
Love all the ideas for egg cartons! It becomes hard to throw them away! : )
What an awesome idea – and I have a bunch of cartons hanging around!
Lots of great ideas! It’s too bad we normally return our cartons to the farm when we get more eggs! I may have to keep a few!
I love the game you came up with! I know my daughter would do the same as yours (paint each section), but I’d be at a loss for what to do with it after that. Thanks for sharing!
Your final product reminds me of mancala… it’ll be fun when the kids are old enough for that one. Â I must second your recommendation for the use of treasures. Â Those little glass blobs are scattered throughout the grounds of our preschool, and every kid is delighted when they find them. Â I have a few in coat pockets, and they are quite a nice distraction!
Definitely chewing on this- have been saving egg cartons for a while now without any end goal.
Great Idea! I have seen some great ideas with Egg crates. Our favorites have been to paint the parts different colors and make a caterpillar and also, we let our little girl plant her own flowers and using it as a seed starter works wonders.
this is so great. I am working on getting crates for my playgroup and leaving them at door steps for fun!
So many amazing ideas… I hope I can have one of my own
I am so inspired by the challenge and looking forward to future challenges! :-)Â
Love it! Â Always looking for more fun ideas to do with egg cartons! Â This week it was egg shades for us! Â Thanks and I look forward to more challenges.
I’ve been away and finally added my egg carton idea. Â Love the variety of ideas. The game is a nice idea from N too. Kiwi Crate is fab and it would be wonderful to win a crate! Thanks for the challenge.
What a great challenge! My sister created the monster carton with my daughter (#64) and they had so much fun. Â So many creative ideas shown above.
What great ideas!Â We actually have an art closet containing several egg cartons that have just been waiting to be put to use… feeling a little more inspired.Â 🙂
These are a fantastic and fun way to play green!Â My kids are slowly learning the importance of upcycling when it comes to crafts.Â My son, who is 5, is eager to paint the Plastic shell that his chocolate bunny arrived in.Â I think they will love this idea.Â Thanks for the inspiration!!!!
great ideaÂ , love it
Â This projects are very creative , love it and kids seems to enjoy it.
What cute ideas!! My 7 year old made her little sister a jewelry box to put all her little plastic jewelry into that she got on easter morning. I wish I would have taken a picture, it would have gone great on this post!
I save all of our egg cartons to use as paint palettes. We paint in the backyard so it makes set up and clean up super easy for me!
I love all of the ideas!
What great ideas! My kids are putting their baby bird littlest pet shops inside the eggs! I think they would love this game! I might even but little plastic animals that normally hatch out of eggs in the game. They love learning about animal babies 🙂
My 18th month old loves to use egg cartons to hold whatever little treasures she is currently playing with sometimes I find little lumps of play dough inside, plastic eggs, rocks or water beads, etc
Now I know what to do with all of the egg cartons we usually just recycle.
I really like the idea of finding garden objects that match your paint pallet!
Thanks for all the wonderful, colorful ideas!
We recently used an egg carton to hold all of the parts of a cabinet that my young son and husband put together.Â Before we put it together I had him sort and count out all of the pieces to make sure we were not missing anything.
I just love your site! It has been such an inspiration. I really want to check out kiwi crates.
Love this post! Â We always have tons of egg cartons and milk jugs lying around. Â I’m going to try the color collection crate! Â But lots of times, my daughter doesn’t even need suggestions on how to use them. Â She’s creative and turns TP rolls into binoculars, or a den for her little animal toys.
I LOVE the idea of Kiwi Crates, too. Â
This was such a fun challenge to do…can’t wait for the next one.Â Thank you for giving us opportunities to be creative with our little ones!!Â Â
My daughter LOVES egg cartons.Â They really lend themselves to sorting.Â 😀
Love all the creative ideas! Would love to win the kiwi crate too! 🙂
Such cute ideas! Â My 9 year old has a cardboard collection – recycling – she uses for various craft ideas.
what a great idea, i think my toddler would love that game
uclangel422 at yahoo dot com
What fun ideas! We always have egg cartons around because my folks have laying hens. Thanks to Kiwi Crate, too!
I love all these creative idea’s, thank you!
redscold at yahoo dot com
Fun! We have lots of stuff sitting around, waiting for some creativity: scrap paper (used white paper, scraps of construction paper), bubble wrap, cardboard, cereal boxes (thin card), crayons.Â
It is wonderful to be creative and be recycling at the same time. I enjoy projects like that!
This was an absolute blast, and it was so much fun trying to come up with our entry for the challenge as a family. We can’t wait for the next one!!
Great challenge! Â Love all the ideas! :)Â
Great ideas! Would love to try this with my LOs!
My girls and I would love this!
Such cute ideas! We’ve ben thinling about trying out kiwi crate 🙂
I would love to win! Thanks for the chance.
We have lots of saved egg cartons. I love the flower ideas. Thanks! Please enter us in the giveaway
I love your blog! It inspires me to try great things with my toddlers!
LOVE all your ideas and projects… My two boys ages 8 and 3 have enjoyed doing crafts since they could sit..and I get to have the perk of doing them too! I would love to win this give-a-way! 😀 Thanks for all you do to help families have fun together!Â
Thanks for hosting this challenge!Â It’s been a lot of fun to see all the creative ideas!
We are project 85 – egg cartoons.
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