a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thrifty Toys for Tots and Toddlers

            At gift-giving time it is not uncommon to see a young child abandon the gift in favor of the box it came in.
            While we may not feel we can give them as gifts, we can gather small empty boxes (like pudding gelatin, and cake mix that have been carefully opened and then taped shut), empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls, and any number of other items, and store them in a large box---at the ready to capture the attention of a bored or restless tot.
            Years ago, when Heidi's good friend Amber came for a visit she brought along two simple homemade toys for Heidi's toddlers. They were hits!

Shake, Rattle and Pop
Thoroughly wash and dry a plastic one-liter drink bottle. (Some of the bottles have really colorful caps and bases which adds even more appeal.)

Cut several colored plastic drinking straws into random lengths and place in bottle. Run a bead of glue around the inside of the bottle's cap and screw cap tightly on bottle.

That's all there is to it! When I made mine I added a few tiny iridescent stars, along with the straws. Glitter, colored rice, plastic beads or confetti pieces could also be added.

Lids You Can Count On
This toy/game consists of several lids (the smooth-edged kind that you zip off the 12-ounce "cans" of frozen juice) and a round food container, like cocoa powder, infant formula, or coffee come in, that has a removable plastic lid.

Cut a wide slot in the plastic lid, large enough for the lids to easily pass through. The kids love to drop the lids through the slot, over and over.

You can increase play value by adding designs to the lids with permanent marking pens. If you write numbers on one side and draw a corresponding number of something on the other side (example: the number 3 on one side and three hearts on the reverse or 4 on one side and four stars on the opposite side) the tots can learn while they play.

Getting to Know You
Yes, I know there is Skype (is that how you spell it?) and picture-taking/picture-showing cell phones and tons of other electronic devices out there but you know that I am simple and cheap. With that reminder I proceed.

When our married children moved to another state we wanted to make sure that our young grandchildren would remember us between visits. We found a plaything that could hold six photographs. It was great----and it was expensive! But it gave us an idea.

In the craft section of a discount department store, we found sturdy plastic key chains that held two 2-1/4" photos. We hooked three of them together on one key ring and had a six-photo toy that helped the young ones remember us ---- at a fraction of the cost of its commercial counterpart.

I always try to keep my thinking cap on and my eyes open to new ideas.

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