by contributing writer Kristen
Have you ever attended a child’s birthday party where the child is more interested in the box and the wrapping paper than the actual toy they received? Through my years of experience as a babysitter, nanny, and now a mom, I have found that kids have almost more fun when they play pretend with items found around the house rather than expensive toys.
Encouraging your kids to play with items around the house saves money, cuts down on clutter, and teaches them to be resourceful.
10 Household Items that Make Great Toys
Flashlights make great toys! They can be used to play explorer, detective, camping, and other games associated with imaginary play. If your kids are looking for an activity, hand them a few flashlights and help them come up with a scenario for playtime. Flashlights are items that most people have around the house anyway. For some reason, kids love using real items when they play.
2. Laundry Baskets
Laundry baskets can be incorporated into play in a variety of ways. With some imagination included, they can be turned into boats, cars, pirate ships or trains. Kids can also turn them into beds for their stuffed animals or dolls. You can also play a game of basketball and try to toss balls or stuffed animals into your laundry baskets! I am sure there are many more games that kids can play with laundry baskets.
3. Plastic Containers with Lids
When my toddler visits his grandparents house, he usually spends most of his time playing in Grandma’s Tupperware drawer. He loves stacking all the different sized containers and matching them up with the lids. A drawer of plastic containers can entertain a small child for hours! These also make great bath or sand toys! The only downside of turning plastic containers into toys is that you will need wash them all before using them again for food storage.
4. Old Remote Controls and Cell Phones
Little kids love pressing buttons and being able to use items like the ones mom and dad have. When you are done with an old remote control or cell phone, take the batteries out and let your kids play with them! You may find that they prefer these old electronics over their plastic toy versions.
5. Pillows and Blankets
Looking for a fun activity on a rainy day? Let your kids take out pillows and blankets and instruct them to build a fort! Then all you have to do is watch their imaginations run wild!
6. Masking Tape
Masking tape might just entertain your kids for hours! They can make tape balls, race tracks, and create much more! You may want to stick with tape that will come off easily. Giving your kids masking tape should be a supervised activity.
7. Old Clothes
Old clothes can be saved and used for dress up! Use some of your old clothes and make a Dress Up Box. Make sure to include hats, old costume jewelry, and other accessories as well! If you sew, you can try to re-purpose some of your old items to fit your kids. I promise that they will have just as fun wearing these old items as they would wearing a store bought costume!
8. Pots and Pans
Pots and pans are such a classic children’s toy that I had to include this on the list. Kids have hours of fun playing with pots and pans. They make all sorts of fun sounds! And don’t even get me started on how fun the lids are! Playing with pots and pans is a great sensory activity for little kids. Bigger kids can also use pots and pans to play kitchen.
9. Old Food Containers
Old food containers, such as an empty cardboard cereal box or an old milk jug can make great toys! Kids love putting things into different containers. Also, old food boxes can be used to stock a child’s play kitchen. You can create crafts with many of these items, and you may be surprised the other things your kids come up with! The best part about these food containers, is that you can just recycle them after your kids get tired of playing with them.
10. Cardboard Boxes
Spending a day playing in a cardboard box should be a rite of passage for any person going through childhood. Kids like to crawl in them, make forts and tunnels, turn them into cars, boats, doll houses, and play kitchens. They can use them to play hide and seek, use them to play games, make costumes out of them, and more! If you purchase something that has a large cardboard box, keep it out for a few days and let your kids play in it. They will have so much fun!
I am sure there are many other items around the house that your kids use as toys. I think you will be surprised once you realize how few toys your kids actually need. Using regular household items as toys is a great way to encourage creativity!