Thursday, July 30, 2009

Recycling Cereal Boxes into Round Craft Boxes

Making round craft boxes out of recycled cereal boxes ,is not only a fun, frugal, and environmentally friendly craft project, it's also a great "real world" math exercise. In order to figure out the diameter of the box, against the length of cardboard you have available to turn into the sides of the box, you need to know how to figure out the circumference of a circle, and also to use algebraic skills to back track from the length of the side, to the diameter of the circle. Of course, if that gives you too much of a headache, you can always eyeball it, and use trial and error.

To make a craft box, open an empty cereal box at it's side seam, and lay it out flat.

Once you've determined the size of the cereal box, and figured the size of the circle needed for the top, and bottom of the craft box, you can find something to use as a guide for drawing your circles. I had about 11 inches of workable cardboard on my cereal box. I used my coffee cup as a guide to draw the circles. The coffee cup has a diameter of 3.25 inches. That makes its circumference, 3.25in x 3.14in, or just over 10 inches.

Draw two circles, and cut one just inside your drawn line, to use for the base of the box. Cut the other, for the lid of the box, just outside your drawn line.

For the sides of the box, especially if your box has any glue lines on the inside, the best portion to use, is what use to be the short side of the cereal box. Cut about a quarter inch out from the fold lines, that once made the corners of the cereal box.

Then measure in to the side, about a half an inch from the fold lines, and cut along that line. The wider piece will be your box base, and the narrower piece will be the lid.

Trim the box base piece, a little shorter than the box lid piece, and then make slice cuts from the outside of the fold lines, to the fold lines, every quarter inch or so. We hadn't made our slice cuts yet, in the picture below, but you can see them in the pictures that follow.

Bring the short ends of the base piece together, to form a circle with a slight overlap, and paperclip in place. Do the same with lid piece. Fold the sliced pieces toward the center of the circles, using the fold line of the box.

After you try the lid on top of the box, to make sure it will fit, glue the overlaps, and replace the paperclips, until the glue is dry.

Once the glue is dry, remove the paperclips from the base piece, and glue the smaller circle inside of it, so that the printed side of the cereal box is up.

Place some heavy books on top of it, until the glue is dry.

Repeat for the lid, except you should place the circle, printed side down, on top of the lid piece. Again, use heavy books, to hold the circle in place, until the glue is dry.

Once the glue is dry, your box is ready to use, or decorate, as you would any paper mache box from the craft store.

We wanted a box to hold the bits of dinosaur bone, that we were given on the Dinosaur Trial, so we printed out a picture from our trip to glue to the top (this involved knowing the surface area of our circle). We finished the box off by covering it in bits of green, and yellow tissue paper.

On our second box, we added some stitching, and foam letters, an idea that we saw at Homeschooling in the Rose Garden. We love the look, but the stitching proved too hard for little hands. We might try a preschool version, next time, by pre-punching holes, and letting them stitch yarn through.

That will have to wait until we have another empty cereal box, because our third craft box, was reserved for a project the girls have been wanting to try with a homemade sculpty type clay. We still have a little fiddling to do with our clay recipe (as you can see from the cracks on the lid of our toad stool box), but that's a post - and a math/chemistry lesson - for another day.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

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