KID Craft: Making Animals and More Out Of Recycled Objects

'Gather up some 'junk' and let's get creative!'

By Jules Miller, age 13 December 10, 2022

I love to create art with anything I can get my hands on. Even when I was little I could find art in the recycling bin and would snatch boxes, paper towel tubes, and neat-looking plastic containers to create things.

This summer I got to attend an art camp for kids about making art with found objects. I had so much fun creating a scene for my bottlecap mer-kitty, Bubbles, that I wanted to create more bottlecap pets!

Bottlecap Butterfly

Last week I made my new favorite pet, a bottlecap butterfly! I wanted to share how I did it so other kids can see how to have fun creating art with recycled materials too. 

So gather up some "junk" and let's get creative!

You can also make a scene with your pets, and add accessories too, like I did with Bottlecap Butterfly and Paper-tube Cat in my scene below called "Upcycled Diner."

If you don't have the same objects I used, see what else you have that might work. For instance, cardboard from a cereal box instead of foam would work, and twist ties instead of pipe cleaners would also work.

Upcycled Diner

What I used:

For the pet:

  • Bottle cap
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Craft foam scraps
  • Sequins
  • Paint markers
  • Stickers
  • Googly eyes 

For the table:

  • Empty, clean tin can - beware of sharp edges – our can opener removes the top without making a sharp edge
  • Craft foam
  • Sequins
  • Other crafting materials and recyclables
  • Plastic toys/lost pieces from the bottom of the toy bin
  • Hot glue - Ask a grown-up to help or for permission to use it on your own!

For the diner:

  • Cardboard box
  • Fabric scrap
  • Optional: other objects to decorate the scene, like the LEGO plant in the corner of mine


  1. Look at the objects you've gathered and decide what kind of pet you're going to make and what to use as the body and/or head of your pet. I used a milk cap as the body for my butterfly. 
  2. Carefully glue your pet together and add detail. My butterfly is made from a bottlecap, foam for wings, pipe cleaner for antennae, and sequins and stickers for wing details. I also used my hot glue gun's tip to drill a hole for its mouth (I'm 13 so mom lets me use the hot glue gun on my own).
  3. Next, put your table together. I covered an upside-down tin can with foam and used hot glue to hold it in place. Then I used an old lid from a doll set to make the main course, and small plastic pieces and sequins to make the food.
  4. Place a piece of leftover fabric in the bottom of a cardboard box and set up your recycled pet diner scene. Decorate it any way you'd like. I made a brick back wall and added a plant in the corner. 

Fun fact: My grandma gave me the fabric I used for the floor. It was leftover from one of my mom's projects when she was close to my age!

Mer-kitty Bubbles

I made my mer-kitty, Bubbles, in art camp. The head and body are bottle caps, the ears are pipe cleaners, and the tail is a pipe cleaner with a shell-shaped bead at the end for a fin. The base is an old plastic shell from a doll and the drink tray is a smaller version of the same shell. I used hot glue and a blue paint pen to make the water and hot glue, a pipe cleaner, and a piece of wire to make the drink. After I was done building the scene, I added some plastic toy decorations for accents, like the bird, the "bubbles" (which were actually a bunch of grapes!), and the crown (a plastic ring).

It's a lot of fun to look at "trash" and broken or unused toys in new ways and then find a way to use them instead of throwing them away. See what you can find to create something new today!

Jules, 13, is the daughter of Laura Miller, publisher of Macaroni KID Appleton -Waupaca - Oshkosh, Wisc., and dreams of selling her art someday.