Gardening With Recycled Materials

There are quite few containers that can be used as inexpensive gardening tools such as seedling starters, planters, and tools.
Here are a few of the things you can save:

Food grade plastic containers in all sizes: Yogurt and sour cream containers, soda/water bottles, fruit cups, milk/water/juice/vinegar jugs, salad, cake/cupcake, and plastic take-out containers, 5 gallon water jugs, buckets, nut/candy containers, parmesan cheese containers, juice bottles, litter and other large food grade containers, coffee containers (K-cups and large containers), vitamin bottles, and others.

Other Things To SaveStyrofoam: Cups, take-out containers, and egg cartons – cans – glass jars – cardboard egg cartons – milk/juice cartons, newspaper, cardboard tubes, and whatever else you find useful!

Ideas For Use

Plastic cups can be used to plant seedlings. Larger ones can hold a flowering plant and most herbs to full growth. They can be decorated with paint and stickers and given as gifts too. Pop holes in the bottom with a drill or use a candle, nail, and pliers to make holes. (Adult supervision suggested.)

Plastic containers with lids, water bottles, and vitamin bottles are great for storing seeds. Soda bottles can be turned into self-watering planters, or used as a planter.

Milk cartons can be turned into planters that can easily grow a basil/herb plant, a flower, or lettuce. Paint the carton with acrylic paint and decorate with foam stickers or paint a picture. Milk cartons can be cut down and used as temporary plant markers for seedlings.

5 Gallon containers can be turned into a self-watering container garden.

Egg cartons can be used to sort seeds before planting or to start seedlings. 

Milk/water jugs make great watering containers. Simply pop a few holes in the lid with a nail or drill. Use plastic jugs to make plant markers too.

Salad containers can be used to store harvested veggies in the fridge.

Cardboard Tubes can be cut down and used to start seedlings.

Take out containers are great for watering seedlings and to put under plants.

Plasticware – Save your better quality plastic-ware to spoon soil to containers, rake soil to add flower seeds, or to smooth soil over seeds with a knife.

More Information

Inspiration Laboratories: Recycled Container Gardening With Kids – Upcycle various containers and household items to use in the garden.

iCreativeIdeas: 40+ Creative DIY Garden Containers and Planters from Recycled Materials – Almost anything can be used as a gardening container! Check out the suggestions on this site!

Note: Make sure all containers are clean before use and are food grade. Containers that are not food grade, or once used for chemicals, should never be reused.


Please visit my Gardening With Recycled Items playlist located on YouTube. 

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Easter Activities


Wikipedia: Easter – Info about the Christian Feast.

History Channel: Easter – The origins of Easter.

Huffington Post: Easter Eggs: History, Origin, Symbolism And Traditions – Learn about Easter eggs and look through a picture gallery of beautifully decorated eggs.


Mother Earth News: Natural Egg Dye – Learn how to make your own egg dye from beets, blueberries and onion skins.

DLTK: Easter – Crafts and activities. Family Crafts: Easter – Lots of Easter ideas! Coloring pages, craft ideas and curriculum planning just to name a few of the many things this site has to offer!

Pam’s Place: Easter Craft ideas for all ages!

Enchanted Learning: Easter Crafts – Bunny crafts, flower crafts and much more!

Fran’s World of Discovery: Spark of the Day: Make an Easter Egg with a Surprise Inside – An open ended egg craft that allows the creator to use their imagination and language skills. Also, Eggshell Art – Save your colored eggshells to make fun scenes such as rainbows and flowers.

Across The Curriculum

Lesson Plans Page: Easter – Lesson’s that reach across the curriculum

Dltk: Holidays-Easter – Easter puzzles, games, craft ideas, about Easter (history), dying eggs

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An Eggcellent Game

Plastic Egg Game

Before you throw away that egg carton or your plastic eggs from an egg hunt, grab a timer so you can play the following fun game.

There are a few ways to play but you will only need the following items:

Recycled egg carton that carried 12 or 18 eggs
12-18 Plastic eggs that fit in the egg carton – both halves
A timer
Pencil and paper


Open the egg carton and take your plastic eggs apart. 


The object of this game is to put all the plastic eggs together and then back in the carton as quickly as possible.

How to play

  • Set the timer to zero.
  • When the player is ready, start the time.
  • Once the timer starts, the player will put the halves of the plastic eggs together in any order, as quickly as possible, and put them in the carton.
  • Once the carton is full, stop the timer and record the time.
Tip:  Having another player work the timer is a big help.


Once players get good at the game, it’s time to add some challenges to keep it interesting.
  • Players can match the colors instead of mixing them up before putting them in the carton.
  • Players can beat their best recorded time.
  • Put a time on the clock and get all the eggs in the carton before the time runs out. Try it by matching colors too.
  • Put all the halves together in the carton, then take them apart as quickly as possible while the timer is running. Record the time.
  • If you are using a carton with 12 openings, use one with 18 or more.
Have fun!
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If you are looking for something fun and educational to do during Springtime, try a few of the following activities…

Bubble Solution – Experiment to find out what ingredients make the biggest and best bubbles.

Bird Eggs – Links to science projects with eggs, make egg salad with a twist, and learn about the anatomy of bird eggs.

Bird Watching Activities – Bring the birds to you by making a bird feeder and bird food and learning how to identify them by shape, sound and color.

Spring/Easter Egg Craft – Make a hinged egg with a surprise inside. Full instructions and printable pattern available for this activity. This creative project is a great storytelling activity for any age.

An Eggcellent Game – Use a recycled egg carton and some plastic eggs to play this fun game.

Nature Backpack – Before your next outing, pack up a few items that will help make exploring nature a little more fun and informative. 

Chocolate – Learn about the history of chocolate, make an old fashioned chocolate egg cream, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate bath soap, and chocolate lip balm.

Strawberry Craze – This mini strawberry research project is filled with questions to explore, experiments such as extracting DNA from a strawberry, a recipe for a strawberry breakfast sundae, plus links and videos.

Hula Hoop – Activities that can be done with a hula hoop, a link to the history of hoops, and videos about how to hula hoop and some of the amazing things people can do with them.

Geodes – Learn how to make geodes from alum, sugar, salt, or Borax, and learn how they are formed in nature.

Outdoor Charades – Make being outside a little more fun with a game of outdoor charades.

Bottle Toss – Make a bottle toss game from recycled items.

Bottle Cap Stamps – Make stamps from recycled caps and lids. Suggestions for use and instructions for the game, Code-Breaker included.

Tic-Tac-Toe Game – Make a tic-tac-toe game from recycled items and learn about the history of the game.

Crafts from Recycled Items – Turn egg shells into art, plastic milk jugs into a luminaries, grocery bags into a decorative bags and a shirt into a shoulder bag.

Outside links…

Still Learning Something New puts out a monthly calendar with monthly food themes, birthdays, events, holidays and much more. Check out the April, May, and June calendars for more info.

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Note: Has this or another activity on Fran’s World of Discovery inspired you or someone else in a positive way? Have you featured this activity in a blog post? I invite you to comment and link back to where your post can be found, or tell me what you or your family enjoyed about the post! Thank you!

Chocolate Activities

Chocolate Activities by Fran W.
Make a day out of learning about chocolate in some really fun ways!

Learn about chocolate, make an old time chocolate egg cream, find out if chocolate is a fruit or a veggie, and get links to other chocolate resources such as virtual field trips, puzzles and historical information.

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

Make your own delicious hot cocoa mix and get tips on how to make an extra special treat out of it!

Learn how to make delicious chocolate covered pretzels.

Directions for making your own cocoa lip balm. 

Make your own body wash or bubble bath.
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Chocolate covered pretzels

Chocolate Covered Pretzels by Fran W

Chocolate covered pretzels are really easy and fun to make at any age, and they make a great gift too!

To make your own, you will need…

1-2 1lb Bags of real chocolate chips

Pretzel Rods or your favorite shaped pretzel – 1 Large bag/container or 2 small

Bowl or heat-proof container

Spoon or a fork

Parchment paper

Flat pan

Plastic zip-top bags or long air-tight containers

Optional: Mini chocolate chips, nuts, cookie pieces, crushed peppermint sticks, shredded coconut, candy bits, white chocolate chips, nonpareils candy (sprinkles), sugar crystals, crushed candy such malted milk balls, toffee bars, etc.

What to do…

Melt chocolate in a heat proof container in either the microwave or a double boiler, dip pretzels in chocolate, knock off excess chocolate, place on a parchment covered pan and sprinkle with a favorite topping. When the chocolate hardens put pretzels in zip-top bags or air-tight containers.

Try different types of flavored melting chips too: Milk Chocolate, white chocolate, butterscotch chips, peanut butter, etc.

Helpful Tips…

For best results, use real chocolate or melting chips.

When using the double boiler method to melt chocolate, do not get chocolate wet! Water will make the chocolate unusable for dipping pretzels!

If you decide to use small pretzels, put them in the melted chocolate and take them out with a fork. Tap off excess chocolate before putting them on parchment paper and decorate while wet.

To dip pretzel logs, use a tall heat-proof cup or mug and tilt it to cover as much of the pretzel as possible. Use a spoon to cover more space and leave a little pretzel on the bottom so it can be picked up and held easily. Tap off excess before placing on parchment paper.

If needed, put chocolate covered pretzels in a refrigerator for a 5-10 minutes to speed up the cooling process. Warning, if kept in the refrigerator too long, the chocolate may turn white, if this happens, they can still be eaten.

To give as a gift, put pretzels in an air-tight bag or container.

Related activities on Fran’s World of Discovery…

Chocolate Activities
Holiday Gift Wrap

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und, or tell me what you or your family enjoyed about the post! Thank you!

Spark of the Day: Make an Easter Egg with a Surprise Inside

Easter Eggs with a Hidden Surprise Inside by Fran W

To make the Easter egg with a surprise inside, you will need…

An oval, an outline of a chick, rabbit, or duck (available below), craft supplies including scissors, construction paper, a brad, glue, stickers, feathers and any other craft supplies you think you may need.

What to do…

What’s inside our Easter Eggs by Fran W

Cut an oval out of construction paper, and make a chick, rabbit, or duck out of basic shapes, or use the template provided below by printing it on cardstock paper, cutting it out, and using it as a pattern to trace around.

Cut the egg in half so that it resembles a crack.

Make a way for your egg to open so that it reveals what’s hidden inside it. 

Rear View of Egg

One way is to cut a piece of paper 1 inch long and 1/2 inch wide to connect the top and bottom of the egg together on the back. The one side will need to be glued or taped into place, and the other will act as the hinge so that it can open and close freely. Trim the paper so that it can’t to be seen from the front.  

Suggestions for decorating the front of your egg…

Let the front of your egg tell a story about what’s hidden inside!

Once you’ve chosen what animal you want to put inside your egg, think about where it may be hanging out and use construction paper, stickers, or draw a hint on the outside.

A duck may be hanging out in a pond, lake, marsh, river, etc.. 

A rabbit may be hiding in a garden, a field full of flowers, a burrow, a grassy meadow, the forest, etc..

A chick may be in a field, on a farm, in a basket.

You may decide to decorate the outside of your egg any way you want with your Easter animal hidden inside or design a scene with your animal on the outside of your egg.

Another option is to make a bunch of flowers and have them popping out of the egg with some butterflies and bees around it. 

Have fun being creative!

Template for Medium Egg by Fran W

Make Your Own: Cocoa Lip Balm

Cocoa lip balm by Fran W.

If you like chocolate, then you may enjoy wearing this lip balm! 

3 tsp (or 1T) Petroleum jelly or shea butter
1 tsp Cocoa powder
1 Vitamin E capsule and a pin (optional)
Craft sticks
Measuring spoons
Heat-proof bowl for mixing
Small containers

How to make lip balm…

*Melt petroleum jelly or shea butter in a heat-proof container, add cocoa and the contents of a vitamin E capsule by piercing it with a pin, and stir with craft stick until smooth.

Once the mixture cools, it will become solid again.

Suggestions for melting jelly or butter…

* Boiled water – Pour boiling water into a heat-proof container, place the bowl with petroleum jelly or shea butter over the hot water, and carefully mix until smooth. Be careful not to get water in the mixture.

* Microwave – Place heat-proof bowl in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until petroleum jelly or shea butter turns to liquid (do not allow to boil).

Note: If you want to make more lip balm at one time, use 3 parts petroleum jelly or shea butter to 1 part cocoa powder and an extra a vitamin E capsule.

6 tsp (or 2 T) petroleum jelly or shea butter to 2 tsp of cocoa
9 tsp (or 3 T) petroleum jelly or shea butter to 3 tsp of cocoa

Look for small cosmetic containers in the health and beauty department of your favorite store. Contact lens cases can also be used for storing lip balm.

Scent alternatives…

Chocolate-Coconut: Use a small amount of coconut oil or a drop of coconut essential oil to the mixture. 

Try other essential oils such as orange, peppermint, berry, or another favorite scent.

Make Your Own: Cocoa Bubble Bath/ Body Wash

Cocoa Bubble Bath by Fran W

This quick and easy recipe will not only make a fun bubble bath but it can be used as a body wash as well!

To make your own cocoa-scented bubble bath or body wash, you will need…

1c Unscented baby soap (liquid) or 1/2c liquid Castile soap
1/4c Glycerin
1/8c Cocoa power
1 Vitamin E capsule and a pin (optional)
1/2 – 3/4c Water
Bowl for mixing
A bottle that can hold 2 cups of liquid (a recycled shampoo bottle will work)

What to do…

Mix a 1/2 cup of water with cocoa powder, stir with a spoon until the powder dissolves, and set it aside.

Pour the Baby or Castile soap into a bottle, then add the glycerin and water/cocoa mixture. Remove the funnel, pop open the vitamin E capsule (you can use a pin to do this), and squeeze the contents into the bottle and discard capsule. Add the rest of the water to the bottle, close, and shake well. 

How to use…

To use as a bubble bath, shake well then pour a couple of tablespoons or so of the mixture into running water.

To use as a body wash, shake well then put a small amount of liquid on a puff or sponge, squeeze until foamy and wash as usual.

Scent alternatives…

Chocolate Covered BerryInstead of using baby soap, use strawberry or raspberry shampoo as the main soap base.

Chocolate-Mint: Castile soap comes in peppermint and can be used as the soap base. Mint essential oil can also be added to unscented shampoo.

Chocolate-Coconut: Add a tablespoon or two of coconut oil or a few drops of essential oil to the mixture. 
Try some other essential oils such as orange, vanilla, cherry, or another favorite scent.


Make a gift basket: An inexpensive gift basket can be made up for birthdays, holidays, or just because! 
Check the dollar store for travel-size bottles, bath puffs, and baskets. 

Label your creation: Think about making labels for your final product.

Related post:

Chocolate Lip Balm


Chocolate Egg Cream by Fran W

Did you know…

The Cacao Tree’s botanical name is Theobroma Cacao, which literally means, “Food of the Gods”!

Activity: Make an old fashioned chocolate egg cream 

The egg cream is believed to have originated in Brooklyn, New York and has been enjoyed since the 1880’s! 

Here is what you will need to make one of your own…

2-3T Chocolate syrup (*homemade or store bought)

8 oz Seltzer water – chilled
1/4 – 1/2c Milk (cow’s or almond)
Whipped cream
A maraschino cherry
12oz glass or cup

What to do…

Put the desired amount of chocolate syrup into a cup. As you pour seltzer water into the cup with the syrup, mix vigorously with a spoon. Stir in milk and top with whipped cream and a cherry. Enjoy with a straw. Serves 1

* To make your own chocolate syrup, put 1/2c cocoa powder into a saucepan along with 1c sugar, 1/8tsp salt, and 1c of boiling water and stir until smooth. Turn the heat on medium and stir constantly until the mixture boils. Boil for 1 more minute without stirring. Remove from heat and allow to cool. When cool, stir in 1tsp of vanilla. 

Question of the day:

Is chocolate a fruit or a vegetable?

Learn more:

All About Chocolate

The Field Museum offers information about the history of chocolate, growing chocolate, making chocolate and more

International Cocoa Organization: What Time of Year is Cocoa Harvested?

An informative table to find out when and where cocoa is harvested.

Exploratorium: Exploring Chocolate

Take an online tour of the history of chocolate, learn chocolate facts, about the chocolate making process and more

What is chocolate?

Find out if chocolate is a vegetable or a fruit.

History of ChocolateFollow chocolate through the ages.
ChocolateInformation about chocolate, its history, how it’s grown, types, production and much more. Includes pictures and nutrition information.

Chocolate Jigsaw Puzzle

Do a chocolate jigsaw puzzle on line

Chocolate Puzzles

Printable chocolate related puzzles from

History of the Egg Cream

Take a little trip down memory lane and read about the legend of the egg 

Funschooling & Recreational Learning: Chocolate Resource Page – Chocolate resource page for independent study and for creating a one of a kind study.

Chocolate Chips

Wikipedia: Chocolate Chips – Origins, types, uses and more.

Mental Floss: A Brief History of the Chocolate Chip – Article that talks about the origins of the chocolate chip.

Wonderopolis: Who Invented Chocolate Chips? – Offers a short history. Page reads to visitors. Scroll Down and click on “Listen”.

More chocolate activities on Funschooling and Recreational Learning:

Chocolate Activities

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ctivity on Funschooling & Recreational Learning inspired you or someone else in a positive way, or have you featured this activity in a blog post? I invite you to comment and link back to where your post can be found, or tell me what you or your family enjoyed about the post! Thank you!