Rethinking & Repurposing: Ways to Entertain (and Contain) the Kids

So recently I’ve noticed a big push for repurposing things.  No, I haven’t been living under a rock for the past 8 years…just a little busy with some other things I prioritize above craftiness and “green” living.  So maybe this push has been around for a while, but I’m just now getting the motivation to make the move!  Anyway, in an effort to be more “green” and “crafty” I decided to create some toys for my kids and some toy containers by repurposing some household items.  With the help of my way more creative, crafty and green friends and Pinterest, I have done just that.


My first creation is a shape sorter.  Sure there is only one shape to sort, but my 19-month old loves this game.  She will sit for quite some time slipping the lids into the hole and then requesting I open it again so she can get sorting some more.  A great way to model some verbal (“oh” for open) or nonverbal (sign ‘open’ or ‘please’) communication for her to imitate to have her request met.

juice lids


Blocks!  These blocks are made from pushing one empty milk/juice ½ gallon carton inside another.  They are amazingly sturdy and build one heck of a fort, car, boat or _____.  Let your kids fill in the blank!  While building my little one practices saying, “up, up, up” as we build the wall up and “more” or “again” to have it built up again.  My older one just gets some exercise and works on his fine motor (and gross motor) skills all while having some fun!



Containers, containers, containers!  I love repurposing plastic lidded containers to contain all the little, tiny things that need harnessed out of baby girl’s reach.  Most recently LEGOS have entered our house and believe me, they need to be hidden under a lid, or better yet behind a closed door to contain the chaos!  But because I don’t have an extra room to dedicate to just LEGOS we are storing them up in these old popcorn buckets for now.  We have also repurposed a marshmallow fluff and Crystal Light container to hold colored pencils, paintbrushes and markers up out of baby girl’s reach too!



GIANT plastic containers…leftover from cheese balls, animal crackers, pretzels, etc.  The Hot Wheels…*ouch*…the darn Hot Wheels!  I was tired of stepping on them so I contained them!  Once again I figured out a way to harness the fun of these metal/ plastic wheels by giving them a home up on the shelf and off the carpet.  Big O does a pretty good job of keeping them picked up when he’s not playing with them.  My feet thank him!



And through the years we have saved old food containers to mimic the real thing in the kids’ play kitchen.  They love “pouring” cereal from a real miniature box or “squirting” soap in the sink from an old soap container.  Kids want their kitchen to be as much like mom and dad’s as possible, this helps them get there and bolsters their imaginative play even more.


So if I can do it, you can do it!  And be sure to check out our Pinterest board “DIY Play” for more do it yourself toys.  I’ll be the first to admit that creative, out-of-the-box thinking is not a gift of mine….but even I, non-crafty mom, have figured out a few easy ways to keep play simple, fun and GREEN!



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