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Miss Katie's Creative Corner

The following are examples of artwork, projects, and crafts completed by SWANCC community schools and preschools. If you would like Miss Katie to visit your school, learn more about the Early Childhood Education Program.

If you would like your school’s artwork to be highlighted in Miss Katie's Photo Gallery, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

March/April Craft from Trash and Tip


Recycled Seed Starters

Spring is coming but for most of us it won’t be another few weeks until we can get outside to plant. Instead, we can start our vegetables, herbs and flowers now by starting our seeds indoors. You don’t need any fancy starter kits or seed starting pots rather you can use recyclable items you have around the house.

What you need:

Recycled items: yogurt cups, toilet paper tubes, plastic lettuce or fruit containers, newspaper, egg shells, egg carton, baby food jars, milk cartons, cans, and more.

What you do:

Be sure all recycled items are empty and clean with no soap residue. If your container has a bottom poke holes for drainage. Fill with soil, plant seeds, water and place in a sunny area.

  • Newspaper can be folded to make seed pots – search on the Internet for folding instructions.
  • Toilet paper tubes can be cut in half or as deep as needed for seed growth. Place them on a tray before filling with soil. Or make four cuts in the roll, 1/3 of the way up, fold in the bottom like you would to close a box before filling with soil.
  • Eggs can be carefully cracked and eaten. Then use egg shell to hold soil. The eggs can be placed back in the egg carton while growing.
  • For other items, be creative! Cut, shape and design the item for planting needs.

For most paper choices and egg shells they can be planted right in the ground to decompose. Sometimes the paper just need to be torn a bit to speed decomposition and allow roots to reach soil.


Recycle your old newspapers, egg cartons, and toilet paper tubes as they will all help seeds get off to a good start. Don’t worry about planting the paper as it will break down over time and the plants roots will grow through the paper. If you buy plants at the store in plastic containers, remember to check to recycle number to see if you can recycle with your curbside program. Numbers 1-5 and 7 can be recycled in your curbside recycling program. Or ask your local garden store if they will recycle garden pots, cellpacks, trays, and plant labels. Also, the Chicago Botanic Gardens has a recycling Plant Container Recycling Drive in June for these items with numbers 2, 4, 5. For more information see their website

January/February Craft from Trash and Tip


Egg Carton Math Games

What you need:

Egg Carton (empty!)

1 or 2 dice - depending on age of players and counting skills

Counters: pennies, pom poms, beads, dried beans

Markers or crayons

What you do:

Color and decorate the outside of your egg carton if you like. There are 2 ways to play.1) For younger players - roll the dice (or die) and put that number of counting items in the first cup. Then go to the second cup. If you play with a partner, you can each take a row and take turns. See who gets the most counters after the row of 6 cups. Or 2) Using a marker, write numbers 1-12. Follow the rules of "Shut the Box". Using 2 die, player rolls put that number of counters in the corresponding cup or split the die. For example, roll a 1 and 3. Player can put a counter in the 1 cup and 3 cup or add them and put in the 4 cup. Again, you can alternate with a partner. If older students are playing you can make it more difficult using subtraction or multiplication, just adjust the cup numbers.


Make 2017 the year you become part of the “solution” for our ailing planet.

Make one resolution to use SWANCC's Green-Pages-Directory. The guide is a useful resource for residents trying to find a place for items they no longer need. If you think “landfill” rather "garbage" when you throw something out, hopefully you’ll be reminded where your trash is really going. The Green Pages Directory is a great solution.

The directory lists reuse opportunities for books, clothing, office equipment, sporting goods, toys and other materials. The guide also provides information on various aspects of recycling and waste, featuring sections for appliances, batteries, construction debris, electronics, office machines, cartridges, metals, motor oil and many other items.

In addition there are several online avenues to divert materials from the waste stream such as, that are used to post items to be purchased or picked up for free.

Make your resolution part of a solution for our planet this year!

Get started now! You can find recycling opportunities in your community or nearby for holiday lights and styrofoam.

November/December Craft from Trash and Tip


Low-Waste Wrapping Ideas 

When thinking about the holidays and gift giving, think of ways you can wrap gifts with little to no waste. 

What you need/ideas:

  • Towel gift wrap - wrap the gift in a small towel or tea towel which can be a gift as well.
  • Fabric gift wraps - these are reusable and can be found online. Find options here: BOBO.
  • Make your own Gift Tags - reuse cards, paper and include To and From
  • Bows - reuse ribbon, string, even paper to create bows for your package.
  • Alternative to Styrofoam and tissue - shred magazines and newspapers to make your packages safe.
  • Recycled wrapping paper - look online for recycled paper. Fish Lips Paper Designs offers a variety of recycled wrapping paper.
  • Reuse items for wrapping - brown paper grocery bags, newsprint, egg cartons, plastic containers and bottles, or old maps all can make wrapping an item more fun and create less waste.



Think about your waste consumption this time of year.

Beginning Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. There is additional food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons that all add up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills.
In the U.S., annual trash from gift-wrap and shopping bags totals 4 million tons.

Holiday cards total 2.6 billion sold each year in the U.S., enough to fill a football field 10 stories high. 

By reusing just two feet of ribbons, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.

For more tips and information see the EPA Greening the Season.


September/October Craft from Trash and Tip


Back to School Pencil Holders

What you need:

Aluminum Can - empty, clean, free from sharp edges

Colored Paper and/or Colored Tape

Glue or glue dots


Markers, stickers, other decorations

What you do:

Measure colored paper (strips or one piece) to wrap around can. If using you tape, you can cut as you go. Next cover the can. Adhere paper with glue or glue dots (these work well because there is no drying time). Decorate with stickers, color with markers, or add any details you like. Fill with pencils and pens for school.


Packing lunches and snacks is part of the back to school routine. But did you know that "Americans waste enough food every day to fill a 90,000 seat football stadium" (USDA - United States Department of Agriculture). While not all that is in lunchrooms or cafeterias, there are several ways we can reduce food waste at school and in the lunchrooms. Of course if your school recycles and composts you are off to a good start. But reducing the amount of food and packaging that goes into lunchboxes and bags is the first place to start. Be realistic. Parents know how much their children can eat so lunchtime is not exception. Limit portion sizes and limit the options - no more than three things to eat. Gentle reminders as teachers to parents about this is helpful. If you have a cafeteria or food service provider ask them to do the same - less food, less packaging, fewer options. And if you are able to do a Lunchroom Waste Audit it is a great way to see how much is wasted every day - plastics, paper, aluminum, excess packaging, and of course, food.

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