Friday, September 29, 2006

Frugal Fridays- Cheap Toddler Toys

Thanks to Crystal at Biblical Womanhood for once again hosting Frugal Fridays!

When I first started doing some in-home childcare about a year ago, I didn't have very many toys or money to buy them.

Drawing from my experience as an Early Childhood major as well as using some common sense, I began looking around my house for items that the babies could play with. As I've been able, I've supplemented my toy basket with some nice classic toys from yard sales as well as a good selection of wonderful board books that were almost all purchased for a quarter each. (One day I sat down and figured out that buying all these books brand-new would be well over $100!) I also keep a good supply of basic art supplies handy such as crayons, used computer paper, markers, play dough, water color paints, etc.

I've found that the kids like playing with my homemade toys or the recyclables better than the store-bought toys! The basic items tend to keep their attention longer than the battery operated stuff they have at home.

I hate clutter, so I continually am cleaning out the toys and sorting to only keep one basket full of stuff in my living room. My living room is too small to have lots of toys all over! I rotate the toys in and out every month or so and that helps to keep interest up.

Here are some cheap things that I've found that the toddlers like:
~oatmeal containers
~any plastic container with a lid
~orange juice concentrate lids(I decorated these with a sticker on each and cut a slit in a coffee can for an inexpensive but fun, "Kerplunk" game. Remember it's toddlers we're talking about here!)
~laundry detergent scoops-wash these well and keep in your outdoor bag for sand and water play
~boxes- Aldi boxes work well as well as bigger boxes, especially when you have someone to push you around in your "train".:-)
~food boxes-these usually last a short while, then they get cluttery and I recycle them:-)
~wooden spoons and other non-dangerous utensils
~ tin or aluminum pie plates
~water bottles-clean and dry them then add colorful objects such as jingle bells, ribbon, shells, beads or colored water. Be sure to hot glue the lid on or only give a tightly shut one to a small child that you know is not able to open it yet. (Use your common sense with this because of the potential choking hazard and consider the age of your child.)
~measuring cups and other plastic kitchen items-I use these while cooking. It keeps them occupied as well as close by where I can see them and interact with them.
~diaper wipe boxes-fill with scarves or tie scarves together for child to reach in and keep pulling out.

Hope this gives someone some great frugal toy ideas. Let me know of any more you've used or thought of!

Children don't need expensive toys to learn or to be happy. Little ones love having a caring adult close by to sing, talk, play and include them in their daily activities.

Check out Crystal's blog for more great Frugal Friday tips!


Anonymous said...

So true! I've never seen a child who doesn't go for the wrapping just after opening and discarding the gift. *grin* Your ideas are fun, and they encourage quite a bit more creativity than the average fisher-price toy! Thanks!!

Tracy said...

Kitchen cups and wooden spoons bring big fun in our home...our toddlers would much rather play with these.

Our preschool group loves puzzles made from the back of cereal boxes.

Thanks for the great post!

Diane said...

Hi Mary Ann! Thanks for visitng my blog and posting a comment/suggestion! I had to smile when I read your post on favorite kids toys...our girls used to LOVE playing with and chewing on my set of metal measuring spoons. (Especially if they were teething) They made noise, like a rattle and they fit easily into small hands and mouths. I recently had to replace my set and I made sure to buy a shiny new metal measuring spoon set!! Now with two married daughters...I'm waiting patiently to carry on the tradition with future grandchildren (Lord willing!) ;-) Blessings, Diane