This cute recycled robot craft is so much fun to do with little ones. It’s VERY easy to make and a great way to use old toilet roll tubes, plastic bottle tops, straws, buttons and scraps of other craft materials you might have lying around. The robot is small, but it’s so much simpler to make than many of the other robot crafts I’ve seen on the internet. This one has arms that can move up and down and fun wheels to zoom around on. You can make a very simple version, in which the wheels don’t actually turn, but I’ve also included instructions for how to make the robot WITH turning wheels!
Some young kids find robots a bit scary, but this one is just so cute that I guarantee they’ll all find it adorable. My 3 and 4 year olds absolutely loved it, and each little robot turned out unique.
You can make the recycled robot as an Earth Day activity or tie it in with a Space or toys theme. Everything I used in this project was recycled apart from the stickers and the tin foil. I always re-use googly eyes from other projects, but if you don’t have old bendy straws or googly eyes to recycle there are alternatives you can use, such as pipe-cleaners for the arms, and stickers or buttons for the eyes.
For other related crafts and resources see the end of the post!
- A toilet roll tube, or kitchen roll cut on half
- Tin foil
- Recycled materials: old bendy drinking straws, bottle caps, bits of pipe cleaner, buttons, scraps of craft foam etc
- Single hole punch or a way of making holes in the tube
- Glue stick
- Strong glue or double-sided sticky tape
- Optional: stickers, googly eyes, wooden kebab stick
How to make the Recycled Robot Craft:
1. Take a toilet roll tube and use a glue stick to cover it in glue.
2. Cut a piece of tin foil approx. 14 cm x 18 cm and wrap it around the tube. Push any excess foil inside the tube at each end.
3. Make two holes on each side of the tube. It’s easiest if you have a single hole punch, but it might make the holes too high up on the body for the arms to sit well.
Another way to do it is by flattening the tube slightly and making a small cut on either side with some scissors. Unflatten the tube and poke a pencil through the cuts to make the holes.
4. If you’re using an old bendy straw for the arms, cut the long end so it is the same length as the short end (see photo). Extend the straw (kids LOVE doing this!). If you’re using a pipe cleaner, take a piece approx. 16cm in length. You can wrap it in foil if you want to make it look like metal.
5. Poke one end of the straw or pipe-cleaner through one hole and out the other side of the body. Bend each arm forwards and trim if necessary. Now the arms can rotate up and down!
6. NON-MOVING WHEELS VERSION: place a piece of double-sided sticky tape or a blob of strong glue to the top part of a bottle cap. Stick it to the bottom of the body in line with one of the arms. Do the same on the other side.
MOVING WHEELS VERSION: make a hole in the centre of each bottle cap using a screwdriver or the point of a pair of scissors (needless to say, only an adult should do this!).
Take a wooden kebab stick and push one end through a bottle top as shown in the photo, leaving about 1cm poking out one side.
Make a hole on each side of the tube, about 1 cm from the bottom and in line with each of the arms.
Poke the stick through the two holes in the tube and push the other bottle cap onto the kebab stick.
Trim the kebab stick, making sure that some of the stick is poking out on either side, otherwise the wheels can come off easily.
7. Now you can decorate the body. I used white stickers to make the mouth and the panel for the buttons, but you can use paper, card, craft foam – whatever you have. Add some buttons, eyes and draw on the mouth with a black marker.
8. For the antenna you can make a hole at the top of the head and thread in a piece of pipe-cleaner. Another option is to just fix a short length of drinking straw with a stapler.
9. Your adorable recycled robot is finished! Now have fun making it zoom around and try to pick things up with its bendy arms!
Advice for small group classes:
This is an easy craft that takes about 20-30 mins to complete, depending on the age of your kids.
- If you want to make the wheels movable, I recommend you make the holes in the middle of the bottle caps before class.
- You will probably need to help young children push the arms through the holes in the body.
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