DIY is the way!
All parents whose child has pushed an expensive toy aside to play with the box it came in know that children often enjoy simple toys the most. Many playthings can be easily made at home with inexpensive and even recycled materials. We’ve rounded up DIY toys that even the least crafty parent can create. Paint flat rocks in rainbow colors to make a stacking toy, create play cake slices with sponges and glitter, make your own sensory board. Scroll through the arrows above for these and more awesome ideas.
Cardboard beads for threading
Oversized beads and pipe cleaners make a great threading activity for little hands. Create cardboard beads from cut-up paper towel or toilet paper tubes. Decorate the beads with paint, duct tape, patterned paper or turn the kids loose with markers or stickers.
Felt vegetable garden
Check out this adorable felt vegetable garden. The planter box is filled with “dirt” made of brown felt bolsters, in between which the veggies can be tucked in or “planted.” Next, make colorful felt veggies with the free downloadable pattern to complete your child’s colorful garden.
Play sponge cake
Once the kids have played with their vegetables, it’s time for cake! Perfect for playing bakery or tea party, kids can help create layered cakes with felt, glitter, pom poms and colorful sponges.
DIY sensory board
Take a trip to the hardware store for MDF and a variety of household items for babies to manipulate and you will have all of the ingredients for a sensory board. Babies and toddlers will love feeling the carpet swatch, turning a light switch on and off, and looking in a mirror. This board was hung on a wall at the perfect height for a sitting baby.
Chalkboard wood blocks
This cityscape was created from just one 2 x 4 piece of lumber. The author of the Hello Bee blog had the wood cut into various shapes, and then sanded and painted the blocks with chalkboard paint. Kids can draw their own details on the blocks and then erase and draw new ones each day.
You’ll need only basic sewing skills to make these fabric fish with a magnet inside each. The Tidbits blog will show you how to create this toy, even walking you through how to make the wooden reel. This toy will amuse kids for hours!
Rainbow stacking stones
If your kids love to collect stones, put them to good use by creating a stacking and balancing game. The kids can even help paint the rocks. Paint your stackers in rainbow hues or alternating colors to add pattern recognition to this learning toy.
Water bottle bowling pins
This super-simple craft makes use of water bottles that would otherwise be discarded or recycled. Kids can help a parent shake the paint inside the bottles (once the cap is on tight) and the bowling pins are ready to use in minutes. The pins are lightweight, perfect for indoor bowling with a soft ball.
Tactile tugging toy
Any empty, lidded canister will work to create this fun toy project. Babies and toddlers will enjoy pulling the ribbons back and forth through the slots. Using ribbons in a variety of textures makes this toy a tactile experience.