Finding green toys for your kids can be a difficult and (sometimes) expensive task. With a little imagination and a bit of time on your hands however, you can turn everyday household objects into upcycled (and green) toys for your children to enjoy. Each of these upcycling projects will put a smile on the face of your kids while giving the both of you something fun to create together.
FUN FOR THE KIDS WITH HOUSEHOLD ITEMS
Baby Clothes = Baby Toys: Here is a fantastic upcycling project for anyone with babies or toddlers in the house: turn your outgrown kid's clothing into plush toys for them to play with. You can cut the clothing to whatever shape you desire, sew them up along the edge, and then stuff them with cotton or artificial batting. Those old baby clothes will go from useless to useful in no time! If you are feeling extra crafty, try stitching fun animal shapes onto your new toys or letting the older kids draw on animal faces with a cloth marker.
TV Stands = Toy Kitchen Set: If you've outgrown your old entertainment center or television stand, you can easily upcycle it into a fun little toy kitchen for the kids. All you need to do is paint the outside of the stand with a fun shade of blue, pink, or whatever your heart desires. Stencil or paint in a few “stove burners” on the stand's inside shelf, a “window” on the back panel, and (if you feel ambitious) mount an old faucet to the wood counter and you've got yourself an instant toy kitchen. Feel free to sit back and enjoy as your kids whip up a batch of Eggs Benedict for breakfast. (Just don't try to eat it.)
Cardboard Boxes = Fun: Lots of us probably did this when we were kids, but you can turn any old cardboard box (large enough to play in) into something magical and fun. You will need a box-cutter, duct-cape, and a little imagination for this one. Let your whimsy run wild here and try constructing a rocket ship, princess castle, or house. Once you've finished your project, get the kids to help you fancy it up with paint, stickers, glitter, or whatever they desire!
Old Clothes = Dress Up: If you are hesitant to get rid of out-of-style clothes, consider upcycling them into something new for the kids to play with. This one requires very little preparation, and your limits here are only how much space you have to throw your own in-house fashion show! Collect your clothes, shoes, and even old jewelry and make everything into a dress-up set. To make things more fun, ask the kids to put on a fashion show. Play music and make sure to clap as they strut down the “runway” in your old skinny jeans, tennis shoes, and floppy hats.
Socks = Sock Puppets: Most of us have this problem: the dryer or drying rack has eaten one of our socks and now we have a sock without a companion. Instead of throwing those loners into the garbage try upcycling them into fun sock puppets. You can enlist the help of your kids for this one and glue or stitch fun shapes, eyes, mouths, and eyebrows onto your new puppets. Your loner socks are now imaginative kid toys. Expect an impromptu puppet show when you're done, and don't forget the popcorn!
Scrap Wood = Building Blocks: Have an ambitious little builder in the house? Take him or her on a trip to the local lumber yard or home-improvement store. Many of these establishments have scrap wood (such as end-pieces or short boards) lying around waiting to be thrown away. Rescue these otherwise unwanted scraps and take them home to be put to better use. You will need a handsaw, sand paper, and possibly a little elbow grease for this project. Depending on the scraps wood you find you may decide to cut out blocks, small boards, and other fun shapes for your little architect to use in his or her building-block creations. Don't forget to sand down every surface and corner to avoid slivers. Feel free to let your kids paint your new building blocks when everything is done.
Old Socks + Rice = Beanbags Galore: Another easy upcycling project to do on a sunny afternoon is to upcycle those old socks into something fun to pay with outdoors. Take any loner sock and fill the bottom 4 inches with sand or rice. Tie off the top and trim off the extra cloth with a pair of scissors. Take the kids outside and show them how to hit cardboard targets, play catch, or even play sandbag horseshoes.
Altoids Tins = Travel Games: If you've got a few Altoids tins sitting around the house, consider upcycling them into fun travel games for those long car rides with the kids. Print out a small (Altoids-sized) checker board, tic-tac-toe board, or backgammon board and glue it on the inside bottom of the tin. You can have fun making your own playing pieces using clay, wood, magnets, or even dried Play-Dough. Pack up the pieces inside the tin and take it with you next time you visit your aunt Meg in Arizona. Not only will the kids have a little more fun in the backseat, but they just might be quiet enough for you to catch a quick nap (just make sure you're not the one driving!)