CREATIVE FAMILY FUN: Repurpose bottles for Earth Day fun

By Donna Erickson

Use a magnet, colorful pipe cleaners and a recycled plastic bottle to create “fireworks.”

This spring, as we near Earth Day on Thursday, April 22, the thought hits me how I’m actually very grateful for recycling and the way my family, the neighborhood and our city has embraced it. It was so difficult when we started out, wasn’t it? But now, we do it as second nature.

I’m not sure if the world turns a little easier because I no longer toss soup cans, pickle jars and newspapers into the garbage bin. But the idea of recycling makes sense, because it causes each of us, as members of families and the larger community, to be responsible for what we consume.

When we’re not sorting the recycled items for curbside pickup, we’re scrubbing them out to be reused and repurposed. If it’s a plastic deli tub, it may end up in a lunch bag as a veggie container. A half-gallon milk carton is easily transformed into a bird feeder, and cardboard egg cups are perfect compartments for growing seedlings that will be transplanted into the summer garden.

And then there are all those clear plastic bottles that juice, peanuts and flavored waters come in. Peel off the labels, wash them inside and out, and make some fun! Here are some quick magnetic attractions that will captivate your preschoolers.



Cut up brightly colored pipe cleaners into 1- or 2-inch pieces and drop them inside a bottle. Twist and glue the cap on tightly. Find a magnet in your toolbox (or pick one up at your local hardware store) and let your child discover the fun of moving the inside pieces around with a magnet from the outside of the bottle. Sometimes the pipe cleaner bits connect in clusters that burst out like fireworks.



Fill a bottle two-thirds with uncooked rice. Toss in several metal paper clips. Twist and glue the cap on tightly. Shake so that the paper clips hide within the rice. Move a magnet around the outside of the bottle, twisting and turning it slightly. The paper clips will come out of the rice as they are attracted to the magnet. Drag the magnet this way and that, and challenge your child to collect them all.


Find more recipes and family fun at Write to Donna at


© 2021 Donna Erickson

Distributed by King Features Syndicate