Playtime

by Irene Helen Zundel


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Toys cost a proverbial arm and a leg, and it seems their original charm soon wears off! What mother hasn't cleaned her kid's room and found a bunch of abandoned, barely-used toys?

It just isn't practical to throw them out, and it would be a real budget crusher to keep buying new ones. What can a frustrated parent do? Transform them into something new and different that your kids will play with a second time around!

Here are some low-cost, fun and inventive ways to turn those toy box rejects into tempting new playthings.

Reinvent Boring Board Games

Try combining two or more games to make a new one. Perhaps those Hungry, Hungry Hippos can eat the Ants in My Pants. Or those ants can invade Candy Land! You can also play the original game in a new way. Add a timer to speed up the action. Replace the dice with a deck of cards to determine the number of moves. Used edible items or small toys as markers and tokens, such as tiny plastic dinosaurs, doll shoes, Lego men, or rings and earrings from a costume jewelry set.

Play a Cool New Sport

Never mind the birdie in badminton. Try hitting small water balloons instead! Ever have a squirt gun fight while riding a skateboard, or play volleyball on roller skates? Why not try a bean bag toss through the basketball hoop?

Make Some Inexpensive Add-Ons

Have your kids abandoned their matchbox cars? Try making a car wash, gas station, or truck stop with old shoeboxes. Using sidewalk chalk, draw a racetrack on the driveway. Using blocks and some plywood, fashion a downhill ramp.

Combine Toy Sets

Take some sidewalk chalk and draw a mini town. Have several roads going into the town square. Make some stores from shoeboxes. Add in the police or fire station your kids built with their Lego sets. Use your matchbox cars for vehicles on the roads, small troll dolls for people shopping, etc.

Take that toy wrestling ring and those WWF figures, superhero figures and Pokemon animals and stage an original Smackdown event. Did you ever wonder if Spiderman's web could hold the Rock, or if Pickachu's electricity could zap the Joker into oblivion? Well, here is your chance to find out!

Give Dolls and Stuffed Animals a Makeover

Gather some stray pieces of junk jewelry, beads, sequins, glitter, barrettes, lace, ribbons, play make up, scraps of fake fur, feathers, doll clothes and whatever else strikes your fancy. Sparkle up Barbie's wardrobe. Make up those troll faces. Deck those stuffed animals out in doll clothes and jewelry. Braid, bead and glitter hair.

Use Old Art Supplies in a New Way

Are your kids tired of their paint sets, Play-doh, markers and sticker sets? No problem. Replace the paintbrushes with a make up sponge, toothbrush, cotton ball, fern leaf, and feather. Each one has a different texture and creates a different effect for a more interesting picture. Let them paint with colored glues, and add glitter, beads, stickers, and fake colored gemstones. You can also replace the paints with old bottles of nail polish and worn out tubes of lipstick.

Do you have a toddler that loves to finger paint, and a bunch of almost empty food jars in your pantry and refrigerator? Great! Let your little one make an edible work of art using honey, peanut butter, jam, chocolate syrup, corn syrup, maple syrup, pudding, or whipped cream. Add to the fun by supplying a few banana slices, chocolate chips, blueberries, strawberries, raisins and shredded coconut to make hair and funny features on faces.

Soup Up Riding Toys

Is your child's bike, tricycle, wagon, scooter, skateboard or toy car lying idle in the yard? Add an air horn, flame decals, streamers, a basket, a dashboard radio, handle bar mounted squirt guns, light up wheels, colored spokes, fluorescent reflectors, or glittered hand grips.

The possibilities are endless, and the process of transforming toys is creative and fun. Why not see what great ideas your family can come up with?


Ms. Zundel is a freelance writer, home schooling parent, and publisher of an educational newsletter.

Take the Next Step:

  • Abandoned, barely used toys filling your kids' rooms or garage? Get the kids together today to see what great ideas they can come up with to turn those toy box rejects into tempting new playthings.

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