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Nature at Home Series: Cut Waste by Upcycling Paper!

When we think about what we can do to help protect the environment the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, and recycle, will usually come to mind. Big blue recycling bins are a common sight amidst our neighborhoods here in Singapore. I believe recycling is one of the easy actions we can take every day to make a difference.

But, did you know its even more important to avoid waste in the first place and actually reduce what we throw away first, before recycling even comes into the picture? Some of you might have heard of the term upcycling, which can sometimes be referred to as ‘creative recycling’. The idea is to take an item that would otherwise be waste and changing it in some way to make it valuable to you again.

Here we share with you two of our favourite fun and creative activities which help you to reuse paper magazines, newspapers, paper bags and wrapping paper and reduce the waste which hits the recycling bin. These are easy activities to do at home whilst we wait out the latest phase of restrictions in Singapore and we know how much the children love, love, love designing and creating things so here we go!

Activity 1: Paper Flowers

Recommended for children 4yrs+, with varying levels of parental support.

You will need:

  1. Old magazines or used coloured paper

  2. Scissors

  3. Tape

  4. A marker

  5. Sticks from your gardens. Pencil widths, strong, straight sticks work best. Have fun hunting for them!


Step By Step Instructions

STEP 1: Find and tear out colourful pages from the magazines.

STEP 2: With the colours you like to see more of facing up, fold the page into half. Then fold each page back on itself so you have 3 folds.

STEP 3: With the folds facing up and the paper horizontal as in the picture above, use the scissors to make vertical cuts along the strip. You can draw some guiding lines with the marker to support your children on where and how much to cut. Make sure to leave at least a centimeter uncut at the bottom.

STEP 4: Once it is all cut, take your stick that you collected from your neighborhood park or garden and tape it to the end of your paper strip.

STEP 5: Then gently roll the strip around the skewer. Keep the tension tight as you roll and pushing it up to form a nice, rounded flower head.

STEP 6: Once rolled, take some more tape, and wrap it tightly around the base pulling the paper in.

STEP 7: Present your handmade flowers in a jar and display on your Home Based Learning desk to brighten things up a little!


Activity 2: Make a corner bookmark

Recommended for children 4yrs+, with varying levels of parental support.

You will need:

  1. Unwanted paper bag, any bag will do but gift bags which can no longer be regifted look lovely

  2. Scissors


Step By Step Instructions

STEP 1: Cut out a square piece from your bag. You can estimate the length (e.g., 15 cm x 15 cm) based on the size of books you intend to use the corner bookmarks with.

STEP2: Rotate your square so a corner points north and south, like a diamond.

STEP 3: Bring the bottom corner up to the top. Make a neat fold at the bottom. It will now be a triangle.

STEP 4: Now you bring the sharp pointy corner up to middle point and make a fold. Run your finger along the fold to make it neat.

STEP 5: Now do the same for the other side. It should look like the picture marked Step 5 above.

STEP 6: Open it up and bring the middle point flap down. Create a fold and run your finger along the crease.

STEP 7: Bring the side flap over and tuck it inside the hole that has been created.

STEP 8: Do the same for the other side and there you have it, your very own basic corner bookmark! Easy peasy. Doesn't it look lovely and useful on our story book!

Learning Outcomes

Besides cultivating and inspiring a sustainable way of living in young children, these handmade ideas provoke creativity and continuously develop children’s fine motor strength and coordination as they engage in cutting, folding, and twisting. While acquiring fine motor skills throughout their childhood, children learn and continuously develop drawing and handwriting competencies. Such experiences help them to further understand how their bodies work and their capabilities. In turn, children become more independent and confident in themselves.

We've found some fabulous read-aloud books about the Earth

In the spirit of caring for Mother Earth, here are some read aloud stories your children might enjoy which are easily accessed on YouTube via the links below:

Enjoy making these and having that quality time together! If you have a go at any of these hands-on experiences, please email pictures to We would love to share them with our community for inspiration!


About Celine

Celine joins Wildlings after working with a variety of prestigious Reggio Emilia institutions in Singapore. Celine is passionate about empowering children in child-led settings and believes all children are unique and competent learners.

Celine is an ultimate frisbee fan and has enjoyed taking children on international camps abroad, including to far flung places like Karuizawa in Japan!


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