This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BringingInnovation #CollectiveBias Innovative 3-in-1 DIY Upcycle Tutorial: Wall Art, Instrument, & Sensory Wheel


One of my five-year-old triplets, Andres, is obsessed with tape, garbage, and innovation.  I get nervous about Andres going through the garbage all the time. Sometimes, I keep it outside. Still, he finds any garbage he can. I worry because he could get hurt, eat something rotten, or become a dumpster diver! Trust me, I’m not judging anyone who enjoys a good dumpster dive. It’s just that Andres has Autism and likes to run or hide from adults. He has been struggling in School lately and started eloping. Recently, he found a new hiding spot; under cars! 

So, now you understand why I worry that he might actually run away and jump into a dumpster. I try to give him access to a good amount of ‘safe garbage,’ so he won’t wander off looking for more. Communication is much harder for him than it is for his siblings. Whatever he can’t say, he surely envisions. He’s fascinating! I’m always wondering what he’s really thinking when he starts to build one of his inventions. The thing is, Andres is #BringingInnovation everyday. I’m in awe at the detail and creativity of some of his work. Andres is an artist, in every way. There’s a beautiful irony to it, also. Andres doesn’t write well, talk well, or put things together well, at least, not the way they are supposed to be put together. Instead, he draws, sings, and builds. I thought his fascination with garbage was just because he has the heart and soul of an artist. That’s certainly part of it, but the other day he told me, “you can make new things from old things, mommy! You can use them for something else. You can make something new!” I immediately asked him where he learned that, because it seemed over-the-top important to him. I knew he liked garbage and building, but I did not realize he recycles and upcycles, on purpose, for a purpose. He’s loves DIY upcycle projects. 

He also likes batteries. Obviously, I can let him play with them freely. They’re not toys. So, I told him I would buy him his own special batteries, but I would have to be in charge of them. The other day I was at Home Depot picking up some stuff for an upcoming DIY project. Green batteries caught my eye. I mean, they had green on them. That’s Andres’ color! Yes, each of my children have an assigned color for things they shouldn’t or don’t want to share, like toothbrushes, special toys, homework bins, etc. Check it out, HERE. I flew towards the green batteries. Energizer® EcoAdvanced™. They are the world’s first AA battery made with 4% recycled batteries. Andres doesn’t like waste. Energizer® EcoAdvanced™ AA & AAA batteries are Energizer®’s highest performing batteries, and longest lasting alkaline ever. That means less waste. It’s another step in Energizer®’s journey to bring performance and responsibility to the world. By 2025, their goal is to increase the amount of recycled battery material ten-fold to forty percent. Also, holds up to 12 years in storage. So, I got one package of each. I’m using one package to revive an old game controller and I’m storing the other package for Andres, until he’s a little older. I want him to have the world’s first AA battery made with 4% recycled batteries. By then, I’m sure Energizer® will have made significant progress on their goal, but it will be wonderful to show these ones to Andres, and share stories with him about his passion for recycling and upcycling, at such an early age.


I tried to interest Andres in some one-on-one time yesterday, but he was too upset. Today, his triplet brother, Enrique, is being moved to a new classroom. They won’t be together anymore. Enrique seems okay with the idea, but Andres seems devastated. He did ask me if he could take his wheel to school. For about 1 1/2 years, Andres wouldn’t go anywhere without his wheel. It’s just an empty steering wheel housing for a game controller. He hasn’t asked for it in a few months, so I was caught by surprise last night, when he asked me to get it for him. I had the perfect idea. I decided to upcycle his wheel! At first, I was just going to paint it. While I was painting, Andres ran from the house towards the street. As I stood up to chase him, my project flew everywhere. It’s was all messed up. Except, it wasn’t. In order to fix it, I had to get creative and I even surprised myself. What was just going to be a touched-up wheel turned into a 3-in-1 project. The finished wheel serves as Wall Art, an Instrument, and a Sensory Wheel! This wheel would make any young child smile. It’s pretty cool and easy to make! I was so excited to put together Andres’ favorite thing and favorite cause to create an upcycle he would love. Here’s how I put it together.

An old “wheel” housing for a game controller…


I gave it a little base-coat with white spray paint…


I wrapped some tape around parts of the wheel to section off areas to paint on one side. I used different textures of tape on the other side.


I removed the tape, did some touch up, and hung to dry.


The back looked terrible. That’s okay, though. I covered it with electrical tape and duct tape to create various textures to support Andres’ sensory needs.


I overlapped each new layer of tape to completely cover the outer part of the wheel on this side.


I cut out, painted, dried, and attached with tape, two pcs. of cardboard to cover the center hole of the wheel and turn it into casing for uncooked pinto beans.




As you can see, I also painted Andres’ name over the center area on one side of the wheel and painted “family” on the other side. I added stick on eyes, pipe cleaner hair, and designed hands and feet also with fuzzy craft pipes.


Andres was ready to start the day with his wheel and without his brother, Enrique. Andres was holding onto his upcycled security wheel, and Enrique walked over to him. Enrique told  Andres to hug the wheel if Andres missed him at school today. I turned around and caught them both holding onto it, together. I was mush!


This upcycled wheel saved the Day. It turns out, Andres had his best day ever, since the start of the school year. He only left his wheel in his cubby during lunch and recess. His teacher told the other students that it’s not a toy. It’s a tool. Andres didn’t “make music” during work time, but he did explore the textures frequently. When I picked him up from school he was so happy to see me. He told me that he feels safe now, because he has his new wheel. Also, he said he was proud of me for making something new!

Antonio convinced me to touch up his controller, so we gave it a little personalization!




I’ll be following along as Energizer® continues #BringingInnovation to the world!

You can follow them too. YouTube  & Twitter  & Facebook & Instagram. What was the last thing you upcycled? Share with us in the comments!

By:  Alicia Gonzalez