By Angie Howard

My kids love to do crafts. My oldest starts begging just as soon as the seatbelts unbuckle in the Hobby Lobby parking lot; "please, please, Momma, let's go down the art project aisle!"
Nothing spells wonderfully challenging like doing art projects with a barely two-year-old who wants to be (and earnestly thinks he is) just as capable of doing as much as his 5-year-old brother. Things really get interesting when we purchase one art project to complete as a team. Art project kits cost money and sometimes sharing is a necessity!
Most craft kits, though not terribly expensive, in my opinion can cost more than they're worth. I offer this opinion with the disclaimer that I have definitely purchased more than my fair share of art project kits. You pay for the convenience of having all necessary supplies (glue, materials, instructions, etc.) prepackaged and ready for use. But, I dare say from experience, that most of the materials for several easy, fun, and creative projects can be found around the houseâ¦and in many instances those materials would otherwise be thrown in the garbage awaiting a speedy trip to our local, already crowded landfill!
Following are a couple of very easy and fun craft projects perfect for Valentine's Day which are made reusing empty household containers and a few basic crafting materials. Why not create a handmade masterpiece or two with your kids to surprise Daddy or a grandparent this Valentine's holiday? Guaranteed, your children will love spending some quality time with you, and no gift - not even that of fancy chocolates - could be even half as sweet as a gift crafted straight from a little one's heart. Plus, there is the added bonus to our environment of reusing and recycling materials through these fun activities.
Make a beautiful bouquet of egg carton carnations
Emptied egg cartons
Pipe cleaners
Green construction paper
Small pot or container
Left-over scrap of Styrofoam
Shredded colored paper
1) Carefully cut individual cups off the egg carton. (For little ones Mom might help with this step.)
2) Cut points along the top of each cup so they look like tulips.
3) Poke a hole in the bottom of each egg carton cup and poke one end of a green pipe cleaner up through the hole. Roll the end a little so it cannot slip back out of the hole.
4) Make leaves using green construction paper and tape to pipe cleaner "stem".
5) Prepare your planter by trimming a small left-over block of Styrofoam to fit your pot or container. Once trimmed to fit, place the Styrofoam inside your container.
6) Cover the Styrofoam with shredded strips of colored paper (old wrapping paper, construction paper, even colorful magazine pages will do).
7) "Plant" your egg carton carnations by inserting the pipe cleaner stems into the Styrofoam!

Make a Valentine Memory-Keeper
Empty Shoe box
Paper (Reuse packing paper, wrapping paper, newspaper, magazines, etc.)
Confetti (a great way to use left-overs from birthday or New Year's celebrations)
Decorations (old buttons, beads, ribbons, yarn and anything else you can reuse. Check out your sewing or notions box.)
Cut out Pictures from Magazines (and/or from photos if you like; make sure you have double-prints or a digital file before cutting!)
Old Paint Brush
1. Mix 2 parts glue with 1 part water, set aside.
2. Draw designs on paper then color and cut them out.
3. Brush glue mixture over outside section of box then press paper designs, making sure to overlap and cover entire area. Do this until the outside of the box is completely covered. Let dry.
4. Brush glue mixture over each covered area and let dry.
5. Glue other decorations to your Valentine's box and let dry.
6. Use to hold your valentines and other special mementoes.
I hope one of these crafts inspire you and your little ones to create your very own versions of hand-made and environmentally-friendly Valentines. Maybe the money you'll save by not having to purchase those art project kits can be spent on a nice box of chocolates to share with your kids after completing some homemade crafts!