Think that “Going green” with your kid’s toys means shopping for expensive and hard-to-find wooden toys? Think again! Some of the most fun, and GREENEST toys are the ones you can make yourself out of common household products and a little ingenuity. If you are the parent of a small child, you probably already know that pots and pans and cardboard boxes are often more captivating to your child than anything store-bought or pre-packaged. The following five DIY toy ideas take the idea of pots and pans to the next level, and were provided to us by uber-creative supermoms Ofrit Peres and Natalie Cronin, the lovely ladies behind the traveling green play event called Unplugged On A Rug.
1. PLASTIC WATER BOTTLE SHAKERS
Recycle your empty water bottles to make great shaker toys! Used water bottles can be filled up with lots of different stuff such as beads, beans, sequins, crayons and more to make a wide variety of sounds. Remember to always seal the cap with a non-toxic super glue, so that baby can’t get at the choking hazards inside. Try this addition: find a smooth sided empty water bottle, roll a photo of grandpa or grandma inside the bottle, your baby will see them as they play — and he/she cannot destroy the picture!
2. NESTING/STACKING YOGURT CUPS
If you eat as much yogurt as I do, you will know that these are easy to come by, and make a great green (and free) fill and spill toy that can also serve as nesting cups. Use clean butter, yogurt, cottage cheese containers of any size. These can fit into each other like nesting cups or can be turned into a makeshift drum/shaker toy with large lids and caps from baby food jars, pasta sauce or anything!
3. MULTIFUNCTIONAL CARDBOARD BOXES
If you have a tot (or a cat), this idea probably needs no explanation — just add kids for instant fun! You can use cardboard boxes as a house, castle, drum, boat and more, just use your imagination and have fun with it. You can add old magazines and newspapers for weight. It takes might to push it around — and makes a different sound than an empty box!
Beth’s inhabitot Olivia enjoys her cheerios wave drum
4. CEREAL BOX WAVE DRUMS
Seal the cereal boxes very tight with a handful of beads, beans — or even easier — old Cheerios inside. This makes a wonderful “wave drum” as you rock it side to side. Try golf balls or ping pong balls too if you have those around!
5. ORANGE JUICE CARTON BLOCKS
These can make a great set of big blocks. Flatten the top down with duct tape (they have pretty colors now!), push in the little spout inside and get building!
Safety note- As with any re-used and/or recycled toy, clean your recyclables carefully and supervise your child at play at all times. Recycled toys are best when enjoyed together!
Thanks so much to creative green moms Ofrit Peres and Natalie Cronin for these crafty ideas! For New York parents looking for a bit of green fun for their tots, Ofrit and Natalie hold a Great Green Playdate in New York City every month, and the next one is coming up on January 18th at Kidville in the Upper West Side. As always, Inhabi-moms will be there, so come play with us!