One Girl’s Trash is Another Toy’s Treasure

One Girl’s Trash is Another Toy’s Treasure

This year my daughter and I have been talking quite a bit about the three R’s of the environment. We have reduced our garbage output by keeping a tally sheet above our garbage can and recycling bin. When we took one out to the big bins, we would make a tally mark, and count it up by the end of the month. We found that, since we began observing it, we started recycling much more than we were throwing away. We’ve explored other ways of reducing and recycling by walking our neighborhood with garbage bags to clean up the litter, growing a nice vegetable garden, and we’ve built a fairly large composting bin that we add to on a daily basis.

With so many projects dealing with recycling and reducing, I decided that it was time to explore the concept of reusing. After looking at what we had available, we thought it best to use a milk carton and see what we could make out of it. My daughter thought that they really looked like houses, so why not make houses for her pet shops?

Milk Carton Doll Houses

Materials Needed:

Recycled Milk Carton


1. Get a half gallon milk carton. Have your child use a ruler to measure it, and divide in to 2 equal parts (this is a great opportunity to talk about the basic concept of fractions).

2. Using the ruler, have your child draw a straight line around the carton. Take some kitchen shears or other heavy duty scissors (adults only please!) and cut around the line to make two boxes.

3. Cut holes out for doors and windows. I did mine first, then let my daughter draw out where the windows should be on hers, and cut them out for her.

4. Lay some newspaper (or a painting blanket) on the ground, and get your painting station ready! You’ll want your paints picked out and in some sort of pallet (if you don’t have a pallet, paper plates work great), brushes in a jar (or cup) of water, and a rag nearby for wiping brushes.

5. Have your child start painting. When finished, let it dry. Then grab some toys, and put them in their new home!

My daughter had a great time being the designer of her own house. While she was painting, she talked about how she could make furniture for her toys to sit in, and what they would do while living in their house.

Here is our finished product. We used other toys we had laying around to fill in her new house. She loves it, and plays with it a lot, hosting little tea parties, Easter egg hunts, and making gardens with her little animal toys. She also learned a lot about the practice of reusing, and now hunts around the house for other would-be trash, and tries to find ways that we can use it for something else.

So have fun, get creative, and think of other ways that you can reduce, reuse, and recycle!

Happy Exploring!

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