How To Build A Robot:
Recycled Crafts For Kids

The best thing about learning how to build a robot is you get to recycle household trash and turn it into free STEM activities learning science and engineering with cool robot models.

build a robot from trash

Building robots like this is fun and the delight kids show in making something that actually moves is fantastic. 

If you have a look at our homeschool robots, you'll see building robot body parts is really about raiding the trash can

Dinosaurs look really cool with plastic fork teeth and spray bottle heads.

The techniques you'll learn when you make your own robot are great to use for all sorts of STEM kids projects and activities.

And recycled crafts always earn bonus points!

We'll take you through the techniques step-by-step and encourage you to look at trash in a completely new way!

STEM Activities For Kids

The credit for building those cool robots and teaching kids STEM skills like engineering and technology is down to the Making Dinosaur Robots from Junk book written by Stephen Munzer, now sadly largely out of print.

The best way to see how to build robots is to start here:

You'll see there how we made them, meet T-Wrecks and Terror-Saw, and find out how to turn a plastic fork into ferocious teeth.

dinosaur robot terror saw

Recycled Crafts For Kids

The way Stephen showed us robot building for beginners lit up all sorts of exciting ideas about how to build our own homeschooling robots.

The great thing is that my daughter Catherine had so much fun making those robots she used the homeschooling crafts skills she'd learned to come up with some really cool robots of her own. You're about to meet Squash Bot, Ray Droid and Saw Bot!

making a dinosaur robot

See how Stephen's dinosaur robot head comes from an air freshener with his own set of formidable plastic fork teeth?

You can use these ideas in all sorts of ways to recyle your own trash. Look at these tin can robots Paige and Matt made:

Finally, I love this idea for a robot space probe for any kids who love space!  As you can see, we made our own space probe from cardboard tubes and loo rolls; but here you get to build a robot rover which you can imagine walking on Mars.

build a space probe

Free Kids Crafts

When you've got the idea, you can adapt the kids crafts skills Stephen uses to learn how to build your own models including our awesome Velociraptor:

make a dinosaur

Meet our homeschool Velociraptor!

Once you've had a go at these recycled robots, you'll be all set to have a go at building your own dinosaur.

If you start looking round the house, you'll begin to see all sorts of opportunities for homeschooling free crafts for kids.

robot droids

I'm going to put some suggestions here, but you'll find more fun ideas in our homeschool page on building robot droids.

And I've been a little rude and shown you Squash Bot naked so you can see the free parts you need to build a robot body can come from something as mundane as a hand cream container. You can see him in bronze on our homeschool robot droid page.

robot with toothbrush heads

How To Build Your Own Robot Model:
1. Body Parts

Recyling a plastic container makes for perfect robot bodies.  You need one which is relatively light and tall; among the free trash candidates to look out for are:

  •  Spray cleaner bottles
  • Loo cleaner bottles
  • Window cleaner sprays

But there are lots of fun homeschooling choices lying around. Have a look at what Catherine chose to build a robot for her homeschool Ray Droid:

ray droid robot

His body is a plastic head torch container and check out his cool homeschooling glue bottle nozzle ray gun!

If you'd like more ideas for how to build something with free junk, why not turn a shoe box into a homeschool ocean diorama?

Or your kids could be inspired by our homeschool dragon crafts to make a free dragon out of junk.

You could also try making more dinosaur robots like T-Wrecks and turning it into part of our exciting dinosaurs project. See what fun it is to find out what life was like when the dinosaurs roamed!

2. Building Robot Wheels

Learning how to make something move is one of those really satisfying fun crafts for kids.

For beginners, we've had a lot of success with robots with milk bottle top wheels. You can stick two together with glue to make the perfect homeschool wheel. We know a plumber friend so we put free pipe insulation foam between them to make the wheels wider.

More popular choices for kids robot building for beginners:

  • Your kids can use jam jar lids, but if you're beginners and just starting out learning how to build your own robot you'll find they're not a great homeschooling choice - too wobbly.
  • CDs are great, there's usually loads of free ones in the homeschool junk pile and the lights shining off the sides look fun and cool! We stuck ours on film canisters to give support.
building robots from trash
  • A perfect choice for building homeschooling robot wheels are plastic lids off food containers like dried milk or cocoa powder which come complete with a helpful rim for running along the ground.

To build a robot that moves does mean getting the wheels right so have a look at our homeschool Ray Droid showing off these last two ideas.

saw bot

3. STEM Technology: Movement

Now for a fun homeschooling lesson in how to build moving robots using milk bottle tops.

  • Glue together two milk bottle tops to make a homeschool wheel. Repeat for four wheels.
making robot wheels
  • When the wheels are dry, heat a bradawl or a small screwdriver over a candle flame. This is dangerous and I recommend all the homeschooling kids crafts skills here need adult supervision.
  • Make a hole in the middle of the wheels using the heated bradawl. The hole should be just big enough for a barbecue stick to fit in tightly.
  • Mark two holes opposite each other at the front and back of your homeschool container.
  • Pierce the holes with the hot bradawl so that a barbecue stick runs free through you container and comes out the other side.
  • Fit your homeschooling robot wheels to two barbecue stick axles. You can use spacers cut from straws if the wheels push up too close to your robot body.

Building homeschool models is something we really enjoy, as you can see in our build a space probe page.

Cool Robots: Heads And Tails

Now you've learned how to make your homeschooling robots move you need to look round for what other free items you can steal from the trash for building robot heads and tails.

Fun choices to pinch for your free kids crafts are:

  • Clothes hangers; if you saw the end off they make fun homeschool tails for robots.
  • Spray bottle nozzle heads look really cool.
  • Catherine chose a medicine bottle top to give a fun head when she was building Squash Droid.

You can often glue them on to the robot body or fit the head into the bottle neck.

Learning how to build a robot teaches all sorts of homeschooling fun kids crafts skills.

Fun Kids Crafts: Robot Building For Beginners

make a robot from recycled crafts

A word to the wise: when it comes to homeschool robot building for beginners a can of spray paint is the vital element required to turn your creations into really cool robots.

Catherine will take you through all the steps stage by stage so you can see exactly how to build your own robot in our page on homeschool recycled crafts.

dinosaur robot t rex

If you want to learn how to build a robot the exciting thing is you don't have to look far; the trash can really does provide everything you need for free crafts for kids!

Want to remember this? Pin this Build A Robot page to your favorite Pinterest board!

Build a robot

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