While Christmas is the time of gift giving, it does not necessarily mean gift new, gift plastic, gift expensive. Resourceful parents have populated the internet with an array of DIY toys that keep children entertained and mean even more to the parents and child given the former made them especially for the latter. While it is true that being crafty and experienced in sewing comes in handy, not everything handmade needs to be sewn.
We have come across some truly amazing pieces, many of which are extremely easy to build. We are also particularly thrilled that most of these toys aren’t gender specific. Which one will you choose?
You can make this as complex or easy as you wish. We have found two alternatives that show how straightforward or intricate you want to go. In the example on the left the fish are made of paper and cardboard. They have been put together with yarn, and the fishing rod has a hook made out of a paper clip. The example to the right contains a magnet in the fish and on the fishing rod. It also reels in; you just have to choose how far you want to go.
Toddler busy board
There are many examples on the internet, so this one is to illustrate what you can do. You can attach their name with Velcro so they learn to spell their name, use basic colours, etc. The great thing about these boards is that you can literally use things lying about in the house. Latches, wheels, squeaky toys, bells and spring door stop… Behind the baby is a lock, some soft balls, a touch light. When we said you could use anything, you can really use anything!
Nature’s building blocks
Lego is great. We all know this. But this website suggests using foraged branches and bark to make these building blocks makes a good point: it encourages to build forest-inspired scenes, whereas the plastic or metal building blocks we may be accustomed to might, understandably, limit the child’s creativity to a more urbanised setting.
How cute is this little monster? You can find the tutorial on this website. It is a great gender neutral colour and toy, perfect for non-conforming parents.
Create Mr Potato Head
A great game to bring out at family gatherings, creating Mr Potato Head looks like so much fun! You could add more items to make a Mrs Potato Head, crazy hairstyles, clothes, etc. It’s useful in teaching about body parts and recognising where each part goes.
The Treasure Basket
You can add anything you like to the basket for your baby to experience: from wooden spoons to castanets, pine cones, natural sponge, seashells, a whisk. Essentially, choose interesting items that will capture the baby’s attention. Try and avoid using plastic in the basket, but there are no set rules. Simply confine the amount of time your young one plays with the basket up to one hour.
DIY Shadow Puppet Theatre
This puppet theatre could not be cuter or easier to make. The base of a shoebox has been cut away, leaving some centimetres to make a frame. You can use tissue paper or greaseproof paper to cover the opening. You can also add a sign for “theatre” at the top and some detailing. Cut out the characters with black card, attach to some wooden skewers to the back and hey presto! Play with the light a little to get the best shadow effect.
This little number is idea to start counting. The muffin has the drawn number, and the frosting has the equivalent number of dots.
I Spy Bottle
This is great for children who go on road trips often. Pick some small toys, letters, keyrings, and fill a jar with rice and the goodies. The kids will simply give the jar a shake and find the items! You can play with them and try and guess what it is. If you travel often, then perhaps you could build a stash of objects to add to the jar and change them round every so often so the toy feels new.
You can make a dolls house with just a drawer. You can repurpose a small bookshelf! By making your own house, you don’t have to conform to the furniture or doll measurements the brand dictates. It also means the recipient of the doll house will be able to have their say. From the colour of the “carpet” to what paintings to have on the walls.
Lastly, it is very likely that birthday parties will bring more than one lunch box. Again, if you commute to nursery on the bus, train or car, this would be a great choice. Similarly, for those visits to older family members who are unlikely to keep many toys, or even family friends without children, having a little world in a mini suitcase will bring hours of entertainment.
Which is your favourite project? Are you going to try making any of these? Or maybe something different!? Let us know in the comments.