As most parents know, kids toys, especially ‘sets’ of things, can get out of hand in quantity and cost quickly. If you’ve got hot-wheels then you need the mat, the garage, the towers, the race track. If you have Barbie you need the cloths, the house and the convertible. Do I need to continue?
My toddler was gifted a set of Calico Critters this year and it’s adorable. She loves the animal families and their little cottage. However, it’s been a challenge to keep her interested in the single set lately. I’ve been scampering to find things to enhance her set without actually going out and purchasing anything new.
Here are a few ways to take items you already have (and probably throw away) and turn them into a fun craft time and great follow-up play.
Lets start with a good base. If you’ve been following the blog you’ll know I have a thing for felt. It’s easy to shape, has plenty of color choices, and requires no hemming for the edges. I took a large piece of green felt to use as the ‘grass’ and began adding to it. A piece of blue for a pond, mini fluff balls make little flowers. An extra piece of green glued into a circle with little fluff balls make a great berry bush. A piece of foam covered in felt can make a hill and adding in a few fake flower stalks turn into blooming trees.
A large yogurt container, left over from my popsicle recipe, turned into a tree stump fort. To do this clean your container, put in a hole, coat in paper and color on the bark. My toddler loved using a glue stick and helping color. Does it look gorgeous? No, not really, but she has so much fun hiding her little rabbit toys in it while pretending to play hide and seek.
Some cheep foam sheets from the dollar store and three popsicle sticks became a little camping tent. Paired with a battery candle and a few rocks from her collection became a campout site. A necklace box can be a beautiful garden. Cut out a few slits for the ‘dirt’ and color the box. Then using more foam and popsicle sticks make plantable fruits, veggies, and flowers.
Milk Cartons are so versatile. Cut out one side, add two popsicle stick supports and a second story floor using the piece you just cut out and you have any number of buildings. In our case we covered it in paper and made a barn to go with the little cottage. You could be a bit more advanced and make a windmill, skyscraper, or a space ship.
As far as accessories go pop bottle tops covered in hemp string make great baskets, big buttons are plates, and tiny buttons are colorful food. A few pieces of paper folded with string make ‘books’ to read.
Once you start trying out some of these ideas you will see all the benefits of reusing trash and creating days of fun. Plus no guilt tossing them out when they break or don’t get used anymore.
Challenge your kids to think of fun ideas especially when the weather makes it tough to be inside for hours. Don’t be afraid to experiment with ideas. Next we are going to try to turn an oil bottle into a lighthouse, let me know if you have a handy way to actually make it light up… I’m stuck on that part.