Have you got the rainy day blues? Cabin fever? Stuck in a rut, or just looking for some affordable outlets for your tots, toddlers and perhaps their older siblings? Would you like some ideas on producing some unique, economical toys and amusements for your progeny? Ideas for new, different and creative toys can come from virtually every corner of the house. You may just need a healthy “how to” push in the right direction. Try these ideas for recycling common household items for starters.
Soda Bottle Trucks
As rain pounded into the black sands of the Pacific coast fishing village where I was passing my vacation, I noticed the downpour never stopped the kids. What I also noticed was their ingeniously crafted toy trucks fabricated from water or soda bottles. Each boy ran along rivulets of water pulling a sand-loaded truck. Converting the plastic bottle into a truck was childishly simple. Four bottle caps served as wheels. Two axles were formed from two three and a half inch long pieces of coat hanger wire. The wires were run through the sides of the bottle and through a plastic bottle cap on each side. The ends of the wire were bent up to hold the bottle cap wheels on. A portion of the other side of the bottle was cut away to create a cargo bay. String was tied around the bottle neck. Load up the cargo bay with sand, rocks, marbles, small figures, screws, nuts and bolts, whatever – and the truck was ready to go.
Shake, Rattle and Roll
Empty metal, cardboard or plastic containers make great noise maker toys for the tots. Round containers from cereals, powdered or dry, granulated and some liquid products work well especially if they have re-sealable tops. You can partially fill them with gravel, marbles, clean sand, seeds, dried beans, rice, etc. to create different sound effects. Be sure to super glue or otherwise permanently seal the assembly to keep inquisitive toddlers from opening and potentially swallowing the contents. They’re washable too, so they can be easily washed or cleaned. Your imagination is the only limit to what you can come up with.
An all-time favorite toy with children and adults alike, kites have been around for more than 4000 years since their invention in China. Originally made from paper and bamboo, kite-making materials now run the gamut from the original paper and bamboo to nylon, cloth, plastics, and even metal foils. Not strictly for kids, Benjamin Franklin flew a kite into scientific history. Fifth century BCE Greek scientist Archytas of Tarentum is credited with introducing kite-flying into Europe. Here are some reference web sites to get you up, up, and away:
• http://www.skratch-pad.com/kites/make.html Have ever wanted to build a kite? Well, here is a simple kite you can make your self!
• http://www.ehow.com/how_1288_make-kite.html How to make a kite. While kites are inexpensive to buy, making one adds to the fun. You’ll be especially proud when your diamond-shaped creation takes to the sky.
• http://www.aloha.net/~bigwind/20kidskites.html These are the complete time tested instructions to get kids making their own kites and flying them in 20 minutes.
• http://www.planemath.com/activities/flykite/kiteplans.html Here are more simple kite plans to help get you and your kids started
• http://scsc.essortment.com/howtobuilda_rlrf.htm Kites are fun for young and old alike. You can build your own kite, or help your kids build one by reading this article!
It’s hardly much of a jump from kites to planes. Inexpensive and easy to produce, flyable planes can be made from paper, plastic or Balsa wood available at hobby shops, building and craft supply stores and hardware stores. Just like kites, they’re intriguing, tons of fun and a snap to make. Flying them can be a bit trickier, but who cares? Time sure flies when you’re having fun! Try these web sites for a quick take off:
• [http://www.cdli.ca/CITE/paper.htm] This page lists some of the best Web sites on how to make and fly paper airplanes.
• http://paperplane.org/ Ken Blackburn, web site to share what he knows about paper airplanes. He holds the Guinness record for time aloft for paper airplanes.
• http://www.exploratorium.edu/exploring/paper/airplanes.html T he most amazing thing about a paper airplane is that all you need to make one is
a sheet of paper—nothing more.
• http://www.paperairplanes.co.uk/ Alex’s paper airplanes
Cobra Paper Airplane The Planes – This is an index listing all the paper airplanes
currently on the site ranked by how easy they are to make
So there, you have some ideas on producing some unique, economical toys and amusements for your tots, toddlers and their older siblings. Ideas for new, different and modified versions of your creations will flow from virtually every corner of the house. Who knows, you might even develop something saleable. The toy conglomerates are always looking for the next super fad item.