Getting Crafty with Recycled Materials

Blog post by Program Assistant Laura Grant. To read more posts from Laura, click here.


One of the unique elements of Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling is that in order to fit the theme of the exhibit our family days have involved crafts made from recycled materials. Planning for these events has involved creativity and lots of assistance from staff and volunteers.

Months in advance, we put out a call to collect recycled materials for Downtown Dollar Day and Mitzvah Day. The call was swiftly answered and pretty soon we had too many toilet paper rolls, cereal boxes, newspaper, and tin cans to fit in the office. After we had collected enough materials, we had to prep them to be ready for the events. Again, this was a collective effort as staff and volunteers cut cardboard, painted newspaper, and trimmed t-shirts into strips. Finally, we were ready to share our recycled crafts and activities with the public.

Our materials staging area.
Cutting t-shirts in prep for Mitzvah Day.

On December 8th for Downtown Dollar Day, we hosted a Greener Hanukkah event. We offered four stations each featuring a Hanukkah-themed craft made with recycled materials. At one table, participants made garland by folding newspaper into the shape of a dreidel or Star of David. Guests also made cards out of cereal boxes and decorated them to create a stained-glass effect. Two particularly popular options were splatter paint dreidel—creating a top from a piece of cardboard, applying paint, and then spinning it to create a splattered design and crayon candles—making colorful candles for a menorah by melting wax and old crayons.

Splatter paint dreidels
Making cards and candles

Additionally, we welcomed Art with a Heart to host two menorah-making workshops. Their team brought in a treasure trove of recycled materials, including puzzle pieces, Scrabble letters, and bottle caps. Everyone had a great time creating unique and impressive menorahs.

Workshop participants choosing materials for their menorahs.

For Mitzvah Day this year, we made donations out of recycled materials. Volunteers braided old t-shirts and denim into dog toys for animals at Maryland SPCA and filled toilet paper rolls with newspaper and kibble for a surprise treat for dogs at the Baltimore Humane Society. Lastly, participants decorated tin cans to look like owls to accompany meals delivered by Meals of Wheels.

Finished tin can owl ready for Meals on Wheels.

As a result of these events, I have learned how to think creatively while still trying to promote sustainability.

Sample projects on my desk in prep for programs.

Thank you to all the staff and volunteers who donated items or helped prep materials. We could not have done it without you.

We will offer two additional family programs related to Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling. On January 26th, join JMM for From Trash to Treasure, a morning of building, tinkering, and creating projects with recycled materials. Then on April 19th, participate in a variety of activities and expert-led workshops in honor of Earth Day. Hope to see you there.

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jewish museum of maryland Programs and Events

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