Introduction: Recycled Mini Flower Vases

Need a sorta-last-minute craft for your kids for Mother's Day, and the kids are too young to use the Mitre Box and MIG welder?

This project should be sufficiently safe for any ages and any attention spans - even mine!

We're doing this project with our Jr. Church for Mother's Day - we have all ages, and some awesome special needs kids, so easy, safe, and minimal mess (on the kid's end, anyway)

The project does take a bit of "adult prep" for us, but if you're only doing it with a kid or three and are willing to pay attention, there's no reason you can't work together on the whole thing.

Things you'll need:
- "Danimals" yogurt smoothie containers
- Plaster of Paris
- Primer (we used a spray primer safe for plastics)
- Decoration - Markers, Foam Stickers, Regular Stickers, Paint if you're brave
- Fake Flowers and that Green foam stuff
- a few tools: a knife, a ruler, Mixing paraphernalia for the plaster, and gloves were handy.

Step 1: The Bottle

Arguably the easiest step, get the kids to drink the Danimals. You can do it yourself, but let's be honest, your palate is too advanced for this.

Skin the beast, making sure not to deform the bottle - although if you do, it's easy to pop most dents back into place.

Finally, give it a good wash, especially up around the rim. you'll thank me when it doesn't start to stink in 2 days.

Step 2: Transforming the Bottle

Next, we want to mix up some plaster of paris to weigh the base down. Follow the instructions, but it's usually mix 2 parts Plaster to 1 part water. Fill the bottles up about an inch, and let that cure. some recycled containers are great for measuring, mixing and pouring - the cured leftover plaster should just pop right off, leaving the containers safe for recycling or measuring another day.

You could also use epoxy, or super glue a large washer to the bottom - if you plan on using real flowers in the vase, make sure you use something waterproof. Just make sure these things, like the Weebles of Old, wobble but they don't fall down.


After the Plaster (or whatever) cures, give the bottles a coat of primer, and if you're feeling snazzy, slap a color on there too. We used a spray primer that claimed to be safe for plastics, and left them white so the kids could color on them. I do suggest you at least prime them, since the plastic is kinda see-through and there's usually some printing near the neck that needs covered. This is where the gloves come in handy - there's no good way to hold the bottle while you spray, so i just stuck my gloved fingers in the mouth and sprayed away.

(it should be noted that our kids used washable markers with this craft - and it immediately got all over their hands. a clear coat could stop this, or stick to paint and stickers... or if you're REALLY brave, permanent markers!)

Shazam! the trash from a low-quality kid's snack is now well on it's way to being a (admittedly tiny) vase!

Step 3: Prepping the Fake Flowers

Obviously, if you plan on using real flowers, you can skip this step.

While the plaster cures or the primer dries or during commercials to "dancing with the stars", it's time to prep what goes in the vase. Because really, without the flowers, we're just decorating the outside of a yogurt container.

We got some small cheap flowers from the local craft store, and clipped them down to mini size - there's a ton of them there, since we're preparing for a whole classroom of kids, but you really only need two or three per vase.

You'll also want to cut some of that green foam down to a size that will fit into the vase to stick those shockingly realistic flowers into. I found a 3/4" x 3/4" x 2 1/2" block to fit perfectly. if you're strangely compelled to cut straight, square lines like I am, this is where a knife and ruler come in handy.

Step 4: Crafty Folk, Assemble!

Last step, and where we'll be picking up with the kids at Church.

- Decorate those vases. We're giving the kids washable markers, small foam stickers, and some plain stickers (including some stereotypical boy stickers - what mom doesn't love a skull with a lightning bolt on it's head?) If you're brave, of your kids are better behaved than ours are, feel free to hand out the poster paints too.

- Once the frenzy of decorating seems to die down, have the students each grab a few flowers and a green foam thing, and have them put the flower stems in the center of the smallest side (like pictured). I know i'm going to have to watch my boys to make sure that block of foam doesn't turn into dust, so fair warning to you as well - i hate cleaning up that stuff.

Finally, have them stick the foam thing down the mouth of the bottle and Presto! instant Mother's Day (or mom's birthday, or bored afternoon) craft, with minimal mess and with stuff most crafty parents have laying around.

If you're using this as a part of a lesson, make sure you talk to the kids about the importance of re-using items we often think of as trash - the trash can isn't a portal to another world, where things just "go away" - things we throw away go somewhere to just sit, for a long time, when they could be turned into beautiful things. (end rant)