Overcast   37.0F  |  Forecast »

The Scrap Box Crafting Spot for Kids in Ann Arbor

DIY gets a cool 'repurpose' spin at this nonprofit Washtenaw County family project spot, where kids find cool castoffs for craft projects

Its tagline is "creative recycling." And, at The Scrap Box in Ann Arbor, it's instantly apparent why. This family creativity destination is home to all types of second-had bits and materials just begging to be transformed into new inventions.

From remnants and samples to overruns and seconds, there's a vast variety of scrap materials – or "good junk," as director Karen Ensminger prefers to call it – that can be reused for crafts, school projects and other original ideas.

Eco-crafting boon

With it, kids concoct a bevy of projects, from feathered chickadees to quirky robots, all while learning about reusing or repurposing items that are normally destined for a garbage can.

"We're saving a lot of stuff from going to a landfill – or at least postponing a lot of stuff," Ensminger says.

The Scrap Box

Whether it's a science experiment, learning game or materials for a home repair job, the result is the same: helping the earth.

"Factories have lower Dumpster costs," as The Scrap Box website puts it, "and teachers have unique, low-cost materials" to use with their students.

Imaginations at work

In addition to teaching the importance of recycling, Ensminger says one of the main goals of her nonprofit is to foster creativity in children.

"It represents a way to help kids be more creative with materials they don't get at a regular store," Ensminger said. "They're free to use their imagination."

Tucked away in an industrial complex, the 9,000-square-foot building looks like a small warehouse filled with bins of foam, plastic parts and other "leftovers." But once inside, the colorful artwork and crafts that adorn the walls and hang from the ceiling yield a bright and fun atmosphere – and provide plenty of inspiration for kids and adults alike.

Customers can grab a paper bag – $6.50 for a large bag and $4 for a small – and fill it with whatever goodies get their creative juices flowing. With a little imagination, for example, leftover pieces of foam become puppets, and old CDs converted to coasters. Or, gather up paper and stickers to make a card for just about any occasion.

A fun destination

Ensminger created the shop, which is mostly run by volunteers, in 1985. In addition to the many parents and teachers who frequent the store, school groups, Scout troops and other children take part in various craft workshops.

Over the years, Marlene Lloyd, a teacher from Plymouth Cooperative Preschool, has enjoyed bringing her classes – and her own family – to The Scrap Box for fieldtrips.

"This is such a wonderful, creative atmosphere," says Lloyd, herself a mom and grandmother of 13.

Birthday parties are popular, too. Choose from a child-centered shindig or a family option. For a goody bag? Each kid gets their own little stash of scraps to take home, which they pick from the "bulk room."

Donations and volunteers

The Scrap Box gets much of its inventory from local businesses and factories, but also accepts individual donations of fabric, seashells, buttons and more.

Volunteers are always needed and welcome. The support staff has ranged from local residents to students from the nearby University of Michigan. They help stock shelves, prepare items for sale and more.

And, best of all, they get to witness kids transforming trash into gold. Just browsing the store, you'll hear little customers shout, "Mom, look at this!" as another piece of "good junk" goes into a shopping bag rather than the garbage.

The inventory at the Scrap Box is always changing. Got stuff you think could have a second life? Household donations are welcome, too. Check out The Scrap Box "Wish List" to see what's needed – and keep the cycle going.

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Kids Call Parents by Their First Names

Kids Call Parents by Their First Names

They're ditching 'mom' and 'dad' and putting parents on a first-name basis instead. What's the deal with this trend?

Ghoulish Halloween Drinks for Kids

Ghoulish Halloween Drinks for Kids

You've got the candy and other snacks ready, but what about the beverages? Well, add a cup of 'scary' to your Halloween party with help from Martha Stewart, Pillsbury and more.

DIY Leaf Press Fall Fun Family Craft Project

DIY Leaf Press Fall Fun Family Craft Project

Harness a bit of autumn for your kids' next creative venture by making this handy contraption. Note that a drill is required, so be sure mom or dad helps.

Teal Pumpkins Raise Food Allergy Awareness on Halloween

Teal Pumpkins Raise Food Allergy Awareness on Halloween

Kids allergic to nuts, milk and more can look for pumpkins painted blue-green to find homes giving safe, non-edible treats, thanks to The Teal Pumpkin Project.

Pumpkin Jars, Plates and Juice Box Cover Halloween Crafts

Pumpkin Jars, Plates and Juice Box Cover Halloween Crafts

So simple they're scary! Check out these three orange DIY projects in time for fright night – plus a cool Frankenstein handprint craft for good measure.

Roperti's Turkey Farm Sells Wild Turkeys for Thanksgiving

Roperti's Turkey Farm Sells Wild Turkeys for Thanksgiving

This Livonia landmark offers an alternative to the grocery store, selling 4,000 turkeys in just four days. Peek at our chat with the 'turkey lady'.

Holiday Baby Survival Guide

Holiday Baby Survival Guide

Does your due date correspond with the holiday season? Here are some wise ways to enjoy the season with your newborn – and avoid unnecessary stress.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement