A box of odds and ends is more than a simple container for scraps and extras. It is a treasure trove of great crafts supplies, all the more treasured because it gives us a chance to re-use and recycle material that would otherwise end up in the trash.
Here are some ideas for creative ESL crafts - projects that will come alive with odds and ends you've collected from other projects.
How to Proceed
From Old Crayons to New Suncatchers
For this project, you’ll need crayon shavings, wax paper and an iron, plus some aluminum foil to protect it. Let your students make the shavings out of old broken crayons with pencil sharpeners. Separate colors in paper cups. Then, fold some wax paper in half and sprinkle a small amount of crayon shavings onto one half of the sheet. Fold the wax paper over the shavings and place hot iron on medium heat over it to melt the crayon wax. Let the layer of wax cool and help students cut it into shapes. These make great spring butterflies that you can hang and let the sun shine through.
Wrapping Paper Dolls
Scraps of wrapping paper that are not big enough or too wrinkled to re-use to wrap other gifts are perfect for this project. Review clothes vocabulary by making paper dolls and having your class dress them up! Students cut out pants, skirts, dresses, and even hats from your wrapping paper scraps.
Spread several sheets of old newspaper on the floor and ask students to brush watered down tempera paint over them. Encourage them to use as many colors as they like and let the colors swirl together. When the paint has dried, have them cut out irregular circles of different sizes. Help them form their flowers by stacking one circle above the other from the biggest to the smallest till they have from 5 to 10 circles. Roll up another sheet of newspaper for the stem and pin everything together with a paper fastener right through the flower’s center.
Cardboard Napkin Holders
These funky napkin holders make great holiday gifts! Help students cut the cardboard tube into smaller rings and decorate with whatever else they can find in your box of odds and ends: sequins are great for a flashy New Year’s Eve theme; seeds and beans work great for Halloween napkin holders; or decorate with green and red yarn for festive Christmas napkin holders.
Pipe Cleaner and Craft Beads Ornaments
Got an assortment of pipe cleaners and craft beads? Make some Christmas ornaments! Help your students thread the beads on each pipe cleaner and shape into stars, wreaths, Christmas trees, candy canes, etc… Leave a little on both ends so you can tie them up (except for the candy cane – in this case, curl the ends to keep the beads in place). Voilà! Beautiful ornaments for the classroom or perfect gifts to take home.
Help your students make a cardboard circle – the bigger the circle, the bigger the pompom, but they’ll also have to use more yarn. Instruct them to cut out another smaller circle in the center, so that they have a cardboard ring left. Show students how to wrap a section of yarn around the ring. If they run out, they can tie another piece and continue till the entire ring is tightly wrapped. Next, they take their scissors and cut the yarn along the outer edge. They take another piece of yarn and tie the yarn through it center, thus creating a perfect pompom. Finally, they glue cardboard snouts, ears, and eyes to create their pompom pet.
Redecorate your ESL classroom with the help of your students! Gather up all of the buttons you can find in your box of odds and ends. Cut out the letters of the alphabet from cardboard or colored construction paper, and have your little ones decorate them with the buttons – one type of button for each letter, or all mixed up!
Show students how to make confetti with a hole puncher and scraps of construction paper. Students glue their confetti dots into shapes, animals, flowers, etc…
Fabric Pencil Holder
Give each of your students a tin can, or ask them to bring their own. Give them loads of fabric scraps to glue onto their cans and make colorful pencil holders.
Odds and Ends Photo Frame
A great keepsake for your students! Take a class photo and print enough copies for all of your students. Cut out two 8x8 squares of framing mat board for each student, one of the squares with a 3x5 section cut out from the middle (this is where the photo will go. Students decorate their frames with whatever they find in your box, and assemble their frames.
If you’ve ever been accused of being a pack rat, this is definitely one case in which it pays off!
Save all of those bits and scraps, and you’ll not only give your class great materials to work with, you’ll also help out the environment by recycling.
Create beautiful art from odds and ends! Read our article, How to Use Art to Teach ESL Concepts and let your little artists loose.