Art Activity

Every home, garage, attic, shop, and school has its share of miscellaneous items that are no longer useful but could be if anyone could just figure out what to do with them. In this activity, students will use their imaginations to make something useful and/or decorative from throwaway items brought in from home.


Throwaways and recyclables from home, such as clean plastic gallon containers, buttons, boxes, scrap material, wire, wood, string, etc. (Items should be safe, non-toxic, and no longer needed.)


  1. Provide a convenient storage area where the materials can be stored until you're ready to use them.

  2. Divide the class into four teams.

  3. Each team randomly selects a set number of materials from the storage area (5 to 7 items, depending on how much is available). All other materials should be accessible to teams without limits on their use.

  4. Set a period of time (about 30 minutes) for each team to create a totally new "Whatsit" that uses all the selected items. Encourage students to discuss their ideas for a Whatsit before creating it. The Whatsit can be functional and/or decorative, just as long as it's new and different. (You may choose to allow each team to swap one item with another team or with the leftover pile.)

  5. At the end of the allotted time, have teams display their completed works and choose a spokesperson to explain the purpose of the Whatsit and, if necessary, to demonstrate it.


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