Posts tagged "toys"

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?

Green Halloween: How can I reuse or recycle Halloween decorations?

Continuing in our Green Halloween series…

Along with masks and costumes, the shops are full of Halloween decorations at the moment too. Plastic skulls & skeletons, plastic pumpkins, plastic spiders & bats, plastic ghosts & ghouls … lots of plastic.

As with the masks, it’s far greener (and more fun!) to make decorations from scratch rather than relying on stuff that’s mass produced on the other side of the world. There are loads of make your own Halloween decorations how-tos out there (for example, these ten different ideas…). But still, lots of people turn to shop bought stuff.

Any suggestions for ways to reuse or recycle these bits and bobs? Plastic pumpkin/cauldron plant pots?

Or how to repurpose/upcycle things to use them all year around – as decorations or for other purposes?

One idea I saw was using skull ice cube trays as soap moulds – while they intend the finished article to be a Halloween party favour/trick or treat gift, why restrict the fun to just this event? I say fun skull soaps all year around!

Another idea for a bigger, harder plastic skull – drill/poke pencil size holes around the cranium and use it as a fun pen/pencil pot – like Pinhead from the Hellraiser films, but with brightly coloured felt tips.

Anyone using Halloween decorations or party favours to make spooky costume jewellery?

Any other ideas?

What can I reuse or recycle to make small toys for kids?

From making dog toys last week to kids toys this week… We’ve had an email from Petra:

Thank you for your very nice and useful site. You helped me before, but now I have a new (reverse) question:

In a few months, my youngest daughter becomes 3 years old. On her day care, it is common to give the other (little) children a small present or healthy treat.

I prefer to give a small present, especially when it is useful and they can play with it for quite a while. Last year, I made them little bags from foam that was left over from a party.

This year, again, I would like to make something for the children, preferable a nice little toy by recycling stuff. But I’m out of ideas.

Could you or your readers help me with some ideas? It should not take too much time to make, since I need to make 20 of them. And they should be safe for little ones as well.

I’ve not had a lot of experience of making gifts for children en masse so I’m going to have to ask other people to help out here… Any ideas?

One suggestion I would make – and one that might be better for slightly older children – is to take advantage of free child labour ;) Provide them with the materials to, say, make their own puppet or little creature and encourage/help them to put it together/customise it themselves. Any more age appropriate suggestions?

How can I reuse or recycle dolls’ house / Barbie furniture?

Doll furniture(Hey, sorry for not posting anything on Friday. I don’t celebrate Christmas so should have posted really but then we stayed up shockingly late playing video games on Thursday night because everyone was off work and I didn’t wake up until Friday afternoon :) )

We’ve had an email from Maya – which reminded me of an email Agata sent me a few weeks ago but which got buried in my email inbox for some reason – asking about reusing dolls’ furniture.

Maya says she has “loads of old doll furniture, mostly from Barbie sets. I don’t have a clue what can I do with them.”

Well, the obvious thing is, if they’re still in ok-to-good condition, to give them away, either to charity shops or through Freecycle – let someone else use them for their intended purpose.

It might also be worth checking eBay in case you’ve got an item that collectors want.

But assuming that’s not an option – say if they’re broken or damaged – what else can be done with them? Any crafty ways to repurpose them?

I’ve seen small dolls’ house kitchen items and the like made into jewellery – kitsch earrings, brooches or pendants – and I imagine something like a dining room table could be used as a podium type thing on a shelf to give a second layer for small items, and armchairs could become phone/ipod rests. Any other suggestions?

(Oh, and if case you’re interested, we covered the dolls themselves just about a year ago.)

(Stock photo by Carin)

How can I reuse or recycle plastic toy holding eggs/balls/bubbles?

plastic toy bubblesFrom the subject up there, you may guess that I don’t really know how to describe what Sarah is asking about. Her email should be a bit more informative:

I have a lot of these plastic bubbles that holds those cheap toys that you get out of those quarter machines in the front of grocery stores. My local grocery store give the kids free “HEB bucks” that they then use to collect the plastic bubbles from the skill crane, inside the bubble is a sticker worth a certain amount of points…. ANYWAY, we get TONS of them.

Every once in a while the store will trade a certain amount of bubbles in for those really nifty reusable cloth grocery bags for free.

However I was trying to think of OTHER creative ways to use them as well. I think one good use would be as storage containers for your condiments when bringing your lunch to work or school. Any other ideas?

I love that the shop already has a recycling scheme for them – yay that shop – but they do seem like one of those things that would be great to reuse.

Depending on how water tight they are, I guess you could use them to make snow globes or, conversely, teeny mini-greenhouses.

Other suggestions though?

(Photo of Sarah’s pod collection by the lady herself)