How can I reuse or recycle parts of wooden toys?

We’ve had an email from Sarah P:

Cleaning out my boys toy box before Christmas, found lots of pieces of wooden toys from when they were little, sorting blocks, building blocks that sort of thing. Tried to get them into original sets to give away but either too many pieces missing or just not knowing what goes with what. Nice colours and shapes, shame to bin them.

As for the “not knowing what goes with what” issue, enlist the help of your sons ;)

If the pieces are from well known, popular toys, it might be worth offering them on Freecycle/Freegle or even eBay as spares – someone might want to complete their half-lost set or, as in the case of free building stuff, expand their supply. (Searching “spares” in the young children Toy section on eBay returns a lot of Playmobile/Brio/ELC HappyLand stuff so that stuff would probably go more quickly than generic building blocks or cheap toys.)

I can understand the desire to declutter before Christmas but don’t underestimate the value of random bits & pieces for future imaginative play potential – I remember having random bits of pre-school toys around until I was at least 10, using them as assorted markers or objects, reinventing them in different ways to fit the purpose.

The toys will likely to have been painted or varnished so shouldn’t really be burnt or composted and I suspect to be safe for little ones, they’ll be quite chunky – possibly too big for upcycling into fun costume jewellery. They might make a mobile or a decorative door hanger for a nursery though.

Any other reuse suggestions?

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6 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle parts of wooden toys?”

  1. If they are wooden blocks etc then you could glue magnets to the back of them and use them an a lo-fi version of Tetris on your fridge! I have seen people glue images from damaged books onto them too to turn into magnets of just wooden blocks for your shelves. If you have wooden dominoes then you could turn them into brooches as they are or glue images on.

  2. Rose says:

    I was thinking how cute it would be if you could use some of the smaller pieces or cut them down and make yourself some homemade jewelry from your sons old toys :) Also, there is always the option of making Christmas ornaments or putting them in a craft box for your kids, my girls are always thinking of handy ways to make crafts with the random treasures I throw in there!

  3. Sigrid says:

    My suggestion is to not throw them away at all, and also not to upcycle them – if you have some storage space. My seven year old son has the wooden blocks from his father’s childhood, and we have other friends where the kids are just as lucky… Wooden blocks are such a basic toy, they can be used for just about anything. Our son has been playing with them since he was 2 or three, and it is just the games that change with the age. I do not see an end to it soon, and when he finally stops playing with them – who knows, our grandchildren may be playing with them as well.

  4. pc disposal says:

    I think perhaps we are buying too many commercial products that are useless when parts are missing. You could manufacture the parts yourself using a 3d printer, but that would technically be breaking copyright rules (plus you would have to scan the parts yourself first).

    Personally I like the idea of wooden toys being handmade at home. I know it’s not really that practical for most people but I am certain a child would cherish such a gift far more than factory purchased goods.

  5. Alison says:

    I also agree that a handmade wooden toy would be cherished by the child, particularly when he or she got a little bit older. I still have one in the loft somewhere.

  6. Ant¨®nio Lobo zli says:


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