I found an article in an old Smithsonian magazine titled "Hands-on
Toys" - about a collection of toys made from recycled materials by
people in various parts of the world. They are incredible! I used the
idea for a lesson for 8th-graders to make toys from recyclables and they
loved doing it. One boy made a 5-foot rocket ship, one girl a bathtub
complete with fixtures and shower curtain. I'd say it was their favorite
project of the year. And they got to use the glue guns!
Just have them (and teachers, too) bring in everything possible from
film canisters to egg cartons and turn them loose.
I can't tell you the date of the article because it's not on the pages,
but it was written by Paul Trachtman, so you may be able to find it that
way. I think it was within the past 10 years or so...