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Trash to Treasures
Trash to Treasures
Grades 7 and 8 Recycled Art

By T. Nowosad
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If someone told you to take a look "around the house" for used items that could become part of an art project, you might typically think of beads,or empty paper towel rolls, tissue paper, egg cartons, and the like.  In fact, you may be the type of person who saves everything, thinking some day these odds and ends could come in handy...old lids, twist ties, rubber bands, buttons, spools from thread, and even wine corks.  If you are an artist or art educator, I'm sure you ARE this type of person.  Middle school students, however, may be used to seeing such items take up space in the garage, attic, basement,recycling bin, or worse, the trash. I wanted my students to become aware of some of the everyday household items that are too quickly used, forgotten, and discarded.  With a little planning, vision, and creative problem solving, students would take some of their "trash" and turn it into treasures. 

One thing the students discussed most was how presents are often wrapped up in paper,which often gets thrown out, and not reused...If it wasn't used in the firstplace, it would not be thrown out. Why not make some reusable gift bags?  They can be made strong, and passed from one person to the next.  Students were asked to bring in old decks of playing cards (it's no fun playing without a full deck, right?) that would be turned into reusable gift bags.  Students found that most of their parents had a partially used roll of packing tape or duct tape at home, so this became the "glue."  The tape also made the bags somewhat waterproof, and very strong.  The handles are made from old shoelaces, ribbon, or the handles from old gift bags.  The cards brought in demonstrated the varying interests, collections, and tastes of the students.  Soon, the students discovered that the bags could be made from other used paper materials, like paint samples,newspaper, photographs, and raffle tickets.   Not only could bags be made, but also wallets, coupon books, and even purses could be fashioned out of items in the "junkdrawer".  One of the smallest and coolest projects took used bottle caps and turned them into personalized locker magnets. 

I think the grade seven and eight art students gained a few things from this"Trash to Treasures" exploration.  First, the idea that they can often "look around the house" and reuse some of the items they consider recyclable or trash.   Second, that they can make needed items (wallet, etc.) with the resources they have, and not always buy things new.  And finally, the hope they will look at the multitude of items around them and see future possibilities for these that don't include a trip to the blue bin or the trash can.  Oh, and did I mention fun?                                                                                                                                                                241109_80725_5.jpg    
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