Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Toys are amazing these days.  They’ve got so many bells and whistles on ’em, that they can practically raise your kids for you, almost.  For the most part, we’ve managed to steer clear of those types and keep to the kind that promote imaginative play: blocks, art materials, dress-up costumes, books and more books, people & animal figurines, and the like.
We’ve also gotten the twins some toy cookware and some toy foods (we got a nice set from Oriental Trading Co. for cheap using a discount coupon we found on
I still haven’t gotten them a play kitchen yet, because quite frankly, there’s no room for it in our small apartment, but the girls seem to be quite content using the coffee table as their ersatz kitchen/restaurant.
When they started nursery school, I noticed in some of the pics their teachers took of them, that they enjoyed playing with huge giant blocks made from corrugated cardboard. The cost for us to have a set of our own, however, was horrifyingly prohibitive for just cardboard blocks!
What I did instead, was to start saving the boxes from the food we bought – frozen foods, cereal boxes, cracker boxes, and the like. I taped shut the open ends, and when we’d accumulated three large trashbags full of them, I brought them out for the kids to play with. (but keeping the trashbags out of their reach, for safety)

They loved them! They play with them like building blocks, they play shopping with them, and they even started pretending to cook using them as the ingredients for the recipes, pretending to pour the contents into their little pots and pans, while announcing they were adding a 1/4 cup of flour, or a pound of zucchini (too bad I can’t get them to eat zucchini outright in real life, instead of having to grind it into other foods 🙂 ) to their culinary creations.
And at the end of playtime, we all join in putting the boxes back in the trashbags. And if they happen to mash a box beyond repair, we just break it down and put it in the recycle bin!

Now that the girls are 4, and no longer putting small objects in their mouths, I think I’ll start letting them have some coins, to aid in their play (and math skills).

What are some of YOUR easy homemade toy ideas?  Write a comment and let us know 🙂



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5 thoughts on “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

  1. I love it! Kids are really much easier to please than the toy companies lead us to believe.
    We made pan flutes out of straws today, and windsocks out of dixie cups and Christmas ribbon.

    The most popular was from my son’s 1st grade teacher. They read a story about a recycled robot so that was their project.

    My 7 and 3 years old loved it..we used poptart boxes, mini m&m tubes, Coke caps. I keep a tote now full of odds and ends for projects!
    Laura recently posted..How the Wii helped me lose weight!My Profile

  2. There’s a website where you can print play money of all denominations. Even with your photo on it! kidsmoneyfarm dot com.

    1. Thank you so much! That will be a great help, I didn’t really fancy having to crawl around and flail my arm under sofas to retrieve real money which I’m sure would have gotten misplaced. 🙂

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