Children can learn to recycle by reusing items from holiday gifts. When they learn that old things can turn into something new and useful, they may begin to look at trash differently.

Children can learn to recycle by reusing items from holiday gifts. When they learn that old things can turn into something new and useful, they may begin to look at trash differently. Your holiday challenge: Find new uses for what was once headed for the dumpster.

After all the packages have been opened, give your little one an opportunity to learn about recycling with holiday cards, ribbons, paper and boxes. Recycling means re-using, and children learn by doing, so keep busy with fun activities during the long winter months ahead, and provide yours the opportunity to cut, paste, color and shake. Looking for some ideas? Try these:

• Gift tags: Holiday cards are covered with beautiful pictures that can be cut out and made into gift tags for next year. Use a marker to draw around the desired design, and follow the lines to cut out the shape. Provide a hole puncher for your child to use at the top of each tag. Cut ribbon and thread through, tying at the top, to complete your gift tag. Store in a small box, recycled from under the tree. Next year, instead of purchasing tags, all you need to do is write “To” and “From” on the back of your recycled tags.

• Ornaments and decorations: Recycle holiday cards, cutting and saving special parts of the design. As above, provide a hole punch and decorative ribbon for hanging, as an ornament. To enhance the ornament, provide glitter and glue, helping your child to trace designs with the glue and sprinkle with glitter. This can be done on a tray or a paper plate to minimize mess. Once dry, your child’s handmade ornaments can be boxed and saved for next year.

• Saving and rolling: Provide your child with an empty paper towel roll and special ribbons worth saving. Practice fine motor skills by winding, wrapping and taping the end of each ribbon, so it doesn’t unwind. Place in a recycled box, just for ribbons.

• Ribbon tree decoration: Design a beautiful ribbon tree for next year. Use a Styrofoam tree-shaped base, small pieces of ribbon cut to the same size, and pushpins. Starting at the top, have your child push ribbons into the Styrofoam tree, in a circular direction. Decorate all the way to the bottom, until the entire tree is full of brightly colored, glittering ribbons.

• Fold and save: Many foil papers can be folded and saved for another gift to wrap. Teach your child how to smooth out, match corners, fold and save special paper for other gift giving.

• Snowman art: Using tissue paper, draw a simple design of a fat snowman standing next to a tree. Your child can tear pieces of white tissue paper, scrunch them up and glue them onto the snowman for a 3-D piece of art. Green tissue paper can be scrunched and glued onto the tree, and blue or red tissue paper can be placed up in the sky to look like a blue jay or cardinal flying by.

• Cars and trains: Use small gift boxes to build a car or train set. Wrap each in a solid color of wrapping paper, cut windows and doors from other colored paper, glue on — and go!

Remember, using old items for something new is like ringing out the old year and bringing in the new!

Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting educator. Send your child-rearing questions to FamilyMatters@cantonrep.com or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton, OH 44702. Find additional parenting resources at her website, www.yourperfectchild.com.