In an age when both the economy and the environment are compromised, learning how to reuse, repurpose, and recycle common objects is important. It can help save time, money, space, and even the world. Here are some fun paper bag craft ideas for kids.

Grocery bag gift totes:
You’ll need:
Grocery bags
primer
oil paint
furniture wax
scissors
hole punch

Start by cutting off the top of the bag to make a new edge and get rid of the handles, if it has any. Prime inside and out in a thin layer and let dry. Mix furniture polish with a little bit of oil paint and, using a rag, paint the entire surface of the bag with this mixture. Let dry. Apply several layers until the bag has a texture and look you like. Decorate with paint. Punch holes in the top of the bag and thread through with yarn, raffia, or ribbon to make a decorative closure. This makes a gift bag suitable for any gift recipient. To make a child’s gift bag, use a grocery-sized or lunch bag-sized bag in the same way, but skip primer and furniture polish. Just paint and decorate the outside.

Grocery bag vest:
You’ll need:
Grocery bags
Scissors
crayons or paint
glue
construction paper

Cut arm holes and a head hole into a grocery bag so that it can be worn with the head through the bottom of the bag. Cut a line up the center of the bag until it meets the head hole. Trim up the top of the vest until it looks the way you want it to. Remove vest and decorate with crayon, paint, or cut-out shapes. This is a great craft for a rainy day and can result in a costume of any kind for restless kids. It could be a space suit, police vest, fairy princess costume, and anything else your kids can imagine.

Lunch bag puppet:
You’ll need:
paper lunch bags
scissors
glue
paint
yarn
felt

Lay the paper bag flat so that the bottom of the bag is facing you, flattened against one side. This should make a little flap. Decorate the bottom of the bag with paint or felt cutouts to make the top of a face. Create the mouth inside the flap so that you can see inside the mouth when the flap is lifted. You’ll want to leave a little lip or tongue peeking out from under the flap even when it is not lifted. Add yarn “hair” and dress the body of the bag with felt or painted clothing. When it is dry, place your hand into the bag so that your fingers are over the flap and your thumb is beneath it. Make your puppet talk by moving your hand and opening and closing the flap.

Paper bags can also be decorated or used as: Santa’s toy bag, mail carrier bags, pillows, televisions, cat toys (just place open, on its side, and watch the cat attack), and anything else. The only limits lie in your imagination. If you can’t think of anything, hand a bag to your child and see what they come up with.

Misha Anatolia writes about many topics including arts and crafts, events, and bridal showers. To see some fun ideas for bridal shower arts and crafts or for more bridal shower information, go to bridal-showers.org.

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