13 Repurposed Toys

by Deb on October 7, 2010

Bottle toys

As part of our impending move we’re going through all the toys.  And it turns out a lot of them are either recycled or household items that weren’t originally meant as toys.  So here are some of the things you may not have thought of playing with:

  1. Shaving cream – this is a perennial favourite,  we buy the cheapest homebrand specifically for the girls then colour, mix and play.
  2. Sticky tape – not just to stick things, toddlers will spend ages trying to pull it off, unstick it and pick things up with it.  Rolling it into a ball is fun as they try to pull it off their hands.  We get patterned ones from $2 shops.
  3. Wrapping paper – Not only is wrapping great fun, it has lovely pictures as well.  Good for cutting skills, collage, even illustrating stories.  (In an ironic twist, we generally wrap presents in artwork and keep the wrapping paper with the craft supplies.)
  4. Flower petals and leaves – We’re very fond of fresh flowers when we can get them, then keep the dry petals for collage.
  5. Straws – For older kids they are great for painting, bubble blowing and threading, but they also make great mobiles for little babies.  Simply tie a string tightly around the middle of a bunch to get a star, or use a needle to go through the middle of them for a twisting mobile.
  6. Plastic bottles – these aren’t just good for shakers and rattles, you can cut them up to make all sorts of things like funnels, scoops and moulds.
  7. Boxes – to decorate and keep treasures in, turn into cars, dioramas, or houses.
  8. Calculators – these are pretty popular here as something to push buttons on, or the big girl is learning her numbers.  But as far as the little one is concerned, they’re mobile phones.
  9. Torchesthese actually got their own list, we have so many uses for torches around here!
  10. Icecream or yoghurt containers – when my girls were around 6 months all they wanted to do was take things out.  So I put several containers with little balls, figures, cups and small toys around the house and they would have a ball crawling from one to the next.  Or cut a hole in the lid of an icecream container and you have a great posting game.
  11. Business cards – this is a variation on taking things out of containers, getting business cards out of a purse or organiser is great fun.
  12. Bubble wrap – who doesn’t love it?  Especially if you dance in bare feet.
  13. Sock puppets – Another old favourite, isn’t it nice that they come in different sizes to fit different hands.

What are some of your favourite repurposed toys?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Marita October 7, 2010 at 8:18 am

😀 looking around I’m seeing lots of similar items at our place.

Heidi loves her calculator mobile phone 😀
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Laura October 7, 2010 at 8:27 am

My girls have both liked taking things out as well. A deck of cards in small box with a lid is a favorite toy of both.
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Deb October 7, 2010 at 8:52 am

What a good idea. We used to sort uno cards into colours I remember.


Amanda October 7, 2010 at 9:55 am

We use plastic bottles as terrariums. Cut them in half about 2 inches from the bottom fill with soil and some seeds and give it a light water. Carefully put the top half back on slid over the bottom half. Put it in a sunny window and watch your plants grow! I find Juice bottles work best


Brenda October 7, 2010 at 11:49 am

Oh, my kids used to love shaving cream projects. I really enjoy your ideas. Thanks.
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Adelle Laudan October 7, 2010 at 11:56 am

Boy I remember those days. Open the plastic container cupboard and let them at it. They think they are getting away with something, and you have a couple of minutes to yourself. lol
Fun list. Happy T13!


Aussie Mum October 7, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Your list sounds very much like our useful box. My boys love boxes, straws, tape and just about anything they can “construct” things with.

Junior my 4 year old also loves his touch – so much so that we have invested in windup torches for all of us because we were sick of changing batteries all the time.

I think I would add Balloons to your list. Here they get blown up and let go to wizz all over the place; used as footballs, volleyballs etc; filled with water and made into water bombs; used as molds for papermache etc. We love them.
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Deb October 7, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Don’t worry – I’m on record as saying balloons are the ultimate children’s toy! I thought I’d better leave them because I’ve done so many balloon things 🙂 I agree, we always have a packet of balloons on the go.


cathy@nurturestore October 7, 2010 at 7:19 pm

I much prefer repurposing to buying more new stuff. I blogged about our love of bottle tops this week.
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Xakara October 7, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Dancing barefoot on bubble wrap with a two year old cousin is still among the most fun afternoons I’ve ever had!

After she pulled all the cans out of the cabinet so she could crawl inside, she moved to taking off the labels, (after the first can, I just wrote on the bottom of the cans in permanent marker and let her have at it). When she ran out of labels, I gift wrapped the cans so she could look at the pictures and sort everything by design before she unwrapped them again. Kids are just the most entertaining thing ever 🙂

I’m out of small cousins and godchildren but I can’t wait to use your ideas with the next small ones in my life.




Harriet October 8, 2010 at 2:15 am

Loved your useful list of toys. Ahhh…the sock puppet.

Have a great Thursday!


iKrissi October 8, 2010 at 8:19 am

LOL those are awesome ideas for toys 🙂 I had to laugh at ‘straws’ because my pet bird is obsessed with them (we’ve never been able to figure out why).

Happy Thursday 13
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Hear Mum Roar October 8, 2010 at 9:01 pm

We use clean, recycled junk, a computer keyboard, mobile phones, plastic containers.


Deb October 9, 2010 at 9:13 pm

I was a bit shocked when my 2 year old made herself a laptop out of a flat box and an old keyboard, she even insisted I find her a mouse and loves telling me about the work she’s doing on her ‘puter!


cathy@nurturestore October 15, 2010 at 7:02 am

Thanks for sharing with us at the Play Academy!


Anne-Marie @ Best Toys for Boys July 8, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Let me think…paper clips – my 8 year-old son just loves them. A paper punch – he loves to punch holes and then tie a pack of sheets together to make a little booklet, salotape as well – huge favorite, candles, even though he’s not aloud to light them without supervision…
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