I was warned when I was pregnant to keep the toys to a minimum or the house would quickly become a flowing river of crap. With a dearth of space and a single income for a few months, we kept the toy collection at bay.
I later learned in our child development class that this is not only a practical philosophy, but a good developmental practice as well! Win-win! I forget the actual term, but “open-ended” toys (read: objects with unlimited possible functions) are a great way to stimulate imagination and problem-solving skills.
Enter the dumbest/smartest toy I’ve made to date: a beer case box with the top taped shut and the handle ripped open a bit. A.K.A. The Shapeless Shape Sorter. We spent 45 minutes putting things inside and taking them out again. Surprise! It’s another block! Awesome!
In case you’re looking for free ideas that will go over with your little one (and if not, just recycle/trash them!), here are a few:
• Tissue box (paper towels last longer than tissues)
• Post-it notes
• Remote control without batteries
• Plastic bottles filled with dried beans, coffee beans, feathers, glitter, confetti, etc, and hot glued shut. I added ribbons to the creamer bottle “rattle” to have color and something to grab.
Not pictured: Tupperware, gift boxes, paper bags, paper towel rolls, salad spinners, pans, spoons, spatulas, tennis balls (preferably not covered in dog slobber). If it won’t choke, burn, or slice your child, chances are, they can play with it!
Basically, anything can be a toy. It doesn’t have flash or beep or bear the name of a famous scientist (ahem). It turns out that being a cheap or broke parent can be a good thing.
What are some of your favorite “free” toys?