Earth Day is this Saturday, April 22. This fun and easy craft is a perfect Earth Day activity. My kids had a blast creating their own miniature gardens. It's fun to create your own world in a recycled glass container and decorate it with found materials. This project is great for all ages, with adult supervision, of course.
As December draws to a close and the New Year begins, the time comes bid farewell to your Christmas tree. It's a sad but inevitable fact of life that your tree has to go at some point, unless you have an artificial Christmas tree, in which case you can stop reading right here.
Fortunately, your local disposal agency is usually more than happy to take your dried out old Noble Fir off your hands and do the green thing with the tree by recycling it. If for some reason you can't leave your tree out by the curb with your yard waste, you can drop it off at a number of different locations, including all Marin County Fire Department stations (through January 21), throughout Marin County.
Keep in mind that you need to remove all ornaments, lights, tinsel, and plastic tree bags from the tree before you put it out for pick up. (Don't forget to remove metal or plastic stands, too.) Here's a rundown of Christmas tree disposal details for communities in Marin:
For Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Las Gallinas Valley, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Ross Valley (Sleepy Hollow and Oak Manor): Trees will be collected at the curb on your regular yard waste pickup day during the month of January. One pickup per residence. If trees are greater than 6 feet in length, please cut them in half. Remove all metal stands, plastic tree bags, and ornaments. Flocked trees will not be accepted.
This easy craft project is so much fun to make, and the finished product looks fantastic, especially when lit with a flickering candle. Best of all, you can make them using materials from your recycling bin! These Halloween pumpkin votives are simple to make, and are a perfect craft project for all ages, with parental supervision, of course. My second-grade daughter and I created the pair of jack-o-lanterns lanterns shown here.
This project is a little messy, so make sure you have a good work area that's easy to clean up. You can also create variations on this craft: use white tissue to make ghost lanterns, and green to make monsters.
If you were wondering what to do with all those old obsolete electronic devices, look no further—Marin County now has a full-time place for e-waste recycling! GreenCitizen recently opened its first location in at 777 Grand Ave in San Rafael. This new Eco-Center provides a place for Marin residents and businesses to recycle their old electronics for free and learn about e-waste recycling. The center is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm all year long.
GreenCitizen decided to open its San Rafael center after seeing many Marin County residents recycle at its Eco-Centers in Berkeley and downtown San Francisco. While new to Marin, GreenCitizen has helped over 250,000 residents recycle their electronics and performed over 20,000 e-waste pick-ups from businesses since it opened nine years ago.
GreenCitizen tries to extend the lifetime of the electronics that come through its doors, and 30% of the items recycled there are fixed up so they can be reused. What cannot be reused is responsibly recycled within 150 miles of San Francisco.
Down at the Berkeley Marina you'll find one of the Bay Area's all-time classic kids' attractions: the Adventure Playground. This unique place at the foot of University Avenue is no ordinary playground, however. At first glance, it actually looks more like a junkyard than a playground, but it's actually an amazing outdoor wonderland where kids can let their imaginations and creative energy run wild and build with hammers, saws, nails, paint, and recycled materials.
Don't worry—it's not a Lord of the Flies-style free for all. Plenty of helpful young people from the playground's staff are on hand to help, encourage, and make sure everyone has a great safe time. The Adventure Playground is like a big vacant lot full of wood, tires, old boats, and more. Kids can work on their own projects or cooperate to work on larger ventures like adding on to one of the playground's forts.
It's the kind of environment that many kids these days don't really have a chance to experience, and it's been delighting Bay Area children for almost 35 years. In addition to opportunities to build and create, playground-goers can ride a zip line, slide, and swings, and play on a huge rope climbing structure or on one of the playground's many boats and wooden constructions.
My kids have been getting excited about the summer OIympics, which officially started last night in London. In honor of the games, we decided to make our own Olympic medals out of recycled materials and stuff we had in our craft drawer. We raided the recycle bin and found a corrugated cardboard box for the medal, but cereal boxes or other heavy card stock work fine, too.
The medals turned out great, and the kids had fun making them. We made the Olympic torch in the photo from a cone of heavy white paper and orange tissue paper.
Of course everyone wanted to have a gold medal, so silver and bronze got left out this time, but if you have enough paint then you can make all three kinds. Here's what you'll need to make this craft:
These decorative sand-covered flower vases are a perfect craft for spring. They're easy to make, and look really beautiful, especially placed by a window where they catch the light. My daughter was so proud of her colorful creatiions. Use them to hold daffodils or other bright spring flowers.
Raid your recycling bin and find some containers like glass or even plastic jars and bottles for this craft. You'll also need colored sand, white glue (like Elmer's), a paint brush, and paper plates. We found colored sand at Michael's, but most craft or art supply stores should have it.
Pour sand on paper plates, and "paint" the outside of your jar or bottle with white glue. You can also paint patterns like dots and swirls with the glue to create special decorative effects.
Now that spring is here, work with your children to create some beautiful seasonal crafts to decorate your home. One of our favorite spring crafts this season is these charming butterflies made from things you probably have on hand at home: old magazine pages and 12-inch pipe cleaners. This craft is best done by children of kindergarten age and up, as it involves some coordination and folding skills and might be difficult for younger children.
To make these butterflies, cut out colorful pages from magazines (instead of just throwing them in the recycling bin), and cut out two squares: one four-inch and one five-inch. Turn squares diagonally (like a diamond), and fold in 1/4-inch accordion pleats.
Bend a pipe cleaner in half and twist the folded end so it makes a loop. Pinch the middle of each square together, and carefully place them between the two arms of the pipe cleaner, with the smaller four-inch square on the bottom. Hold everything in place by twisting the ends of the pipe cleaner and pressing the loop flat. The two pipe cleaner ends can now be curled into antennae.
We asked Marin Kids & Maternity Consignment's Stephanie Brandelius to tell us a little about the back-to-school bargains that can be found at their retail store on West Francisco Boulevard in San Rafael. They try to live up to their motto, "Saving the Earth, one outfit at a time" by offering a great selection of gently used (or "new-to-you") children's apparel and more, much of it perfect for back-to-school! Marin Kids & Maternity Consignment is also a great place to sell your old children's clothing and maternity wear. They're located at 814 Francisco Boulevard West and open Wednesday–Sunday, 10 am–5 pm. Visit them online at www.marinkidsconsignment.com.
As parents of young kids, we all fall someplace on this continuum... We are so ready for school to start that we are counting the minutes to the first day, all the way to those who would give anything (short of home schooling) to get a few more long lazy days with our kids. Most of us fall some place in between as we gear up for the next academic year. Loving school, missing freedom, and (yes!) still waiting for the heat!