The best homemade toys are just like ready-made toys bought from stores! While these toys may seem inferior, they can actually be just as enjoyable and educational as their purchased counterparts. These are also more financially savvy because many, if not most, of the materials used for making homemade educational toys can be found at home.
Many parents use recycled materials, too, for added cost savings. These materials can be old toys, scrap paper, and broken crayons, to name a few, which have seen better days but can still be used for other purposes. The homemade toys from these materials can even become learning tools for children about the importance of recycling.
Preparatory Steps on How to Make Educational Toys for Toddlers
Before making educational toys for your children, be sure to prepare yourself about the requirements for success. You may just plunge into the activity, of course, but you will have more success with appropriate preparation.
- Look at photos and videos of age-appropriate educational toys for children. Keep in mind that toys for infants will be different from toys for toddlers because of the differences in their skills and interests.
- Decide on the types of toys that you want to make for your children. Puzzles may be more appropriate for toddlers, for example, while younger children will like activity panels.
- Make a drawing of the desired toys. Even simple drawings will make it easier to gather the materials and make the toys because the abstract ideas become more concrete in form. Be as detailed as possible with your drawings, such as the colors and dimensions for a more definite idea.
- Take stock of the available materials at home and the materials that must be purchased in stores. Be sure to consider the costs, too, since substitutions can be made, such as drawing the puzzles yourself. Many items in your home can become materials for homemade toys, such as cardboard, cups, and boxes as well as used clothes, socks, and yarn for stuffed dolls.
When you have your drawings and materials, you can proceed with making the DIY educational toys. You may work in a dedicated area, such as your garage or basement or home office, which will likely speed up the work since kids aren’t around to interrupt.
But you may also involve your children in making their own toys, which will increase their sense of ownership and enhance their physical and mental skills, too. The toy-making activity is also a great opportunity for parents to teach their kids about essential life skills, such as problem-solving, as well spending quality time.
A Few Great Ideas for Toddler-appropriate Homemade Toys
Again, choose the types of toys that will address your child’s specific educational needs and interests. Look at his or her favorite shows on television and topics in books, for example, to make your job easier. Here’s a few ideas that you can consider.
- Puzzles (2-4 years) are fun because children love taking apart and putting things together. Paste a favorite photo from a magazine onto a thick piece of cardboard. Cut the image into different shapes using a cutter and voila!
- Wooden blocks (1-3 years) are great toys because these can be used to build many different structures resulting in enhanced imaginations. Saw durable wood into small cubes, smoothen the edges, and paint them in solid colors or with patterns. Let the cubes dry first before giving them to children.
- Art tools and materials (1-5 years) allow children to just have a go at it, as well as encourage them to express themselves via art without being judged for their work. Cut sponges into different shapes, such as flowers and animals, which can then be dipped into paint and made into prints on paper. Old toothbrushes, small paintbrushes, and even cut-up vegetables can also be used to create more shapes, patterns, and textures.
- Puppets (2-4 years) allow children to engage in role playing activities and encourage their imagination. Old socks can easily be made into puppets with felt material for mouths, buttons for eyes, and yarn for hair. Paper bag puppets are even easier to make since faces can be drawn on the paper or holes can be made for the eyes, nose and mouth.
If you want to add lights and sounds to toys, you can use small radios and fairy lights. But these toys should only be used by older children for safety reasons.
Homemade toys should also be safe for use by children. Keep in mind that toy safety should always be first and foremost on the minds of parents and teachers when making educational toys. These safety tips include but aren’t limited to the following:
- Avoid using materials that can become hazards to children. These can include paint with lead, plastic with BPA, and objects with jagged or sharp edges, among other damages, as well as items that can become choking and strangulation hazards.
- Always test the DIY toys in terms of their overall construction before letting children play with them.
In the end, it’s the parents’ and teachers’ responsibility to ensure that the toys are safe for children – the aspect of education comes in a close second.