Homemade Toys: Fun & Frugal

With so many toys being recalled due to being safety hazards for children, have you ever thought about homemade toys? Besides being safer, homemade toys are inexpensive and often literally free to make. No batteries, no electricity needed---free or almost free to make and free to use! Last but not least, they're safer. How much better could it get?

As a Stay At Home Mom, you're on the spot to observe your children at play. Have you noticed that often the elaborate, overpriced techno-toys don't really engage their attention any more or for longer periods than simple toys? If you've ever watched a child play for hours with an empty oatmeal box fashioned into a drum, you'll know that it's true. Kids don't need expensive, high tech and possibly unsafe toys to play with in order to have fun.

You don't have to be a skilled toymaker like Pinocchio's father to make fun, educational homemade toys for your children. A few basic, inexpensive or recycled items, some imagination, patience and a mother's love are al that is required. There are thousands of instructions available online for making almost any sort of toy you want. You can find step-by-step instructions for making rag dolls, blocks and homemade play dough, for starters.

Homemade play dough is a success with all kids! They love the stuff and can while away many happy hours rolling and twisting, smoothing and shaping it.

Here is an easy to make recipe for homemade play dough:

  • 7-8 cups plain all purpose flour
  • 3 cups salt
  • 3 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 cups hot water

Mix 7 cups of flour with the salt and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the oil and water. Knead for 10 minutes. You can use the dough hook of your mixer for this if you have one. Add enough of the remaining 1 cup flour to get a soft, workable dough.

You can color the dough before mixing with food coloring, if desired.

Keep the homemade play dough covered or sealed inside a large Ziploc bag when not in use and it will keep indefinitely as the salt retards spoilage.

Another simple and easy toy to make for kids is a bean bag toss game. You can use cloth scraps to make the bags and almost any kind of dried beans.

Bean Bag Toss Game:

Make the beanbags by cutting rectangles of whatever size you choose out of scrap material or old clothing. Sew along both sides and the bottom, leaving the top open, pouch style. Now fill the bag with beans or rice. Rice is lighter in weight and is probably better for smaller children. Once the bags are filled, stitch the tops closed. Be careful to stitch twice to reinforce the bags so that the tops don't come open and send beans flying everywhere!

Now you need a large, sturdy cardboard box, construction paper in assorted colors, a black magic marker and an exacto knife or similar tool to cut holes for the targets. Make the target holes on one side of the box, large enough holes that the bean bags will fit through. Cut shapes from the construction paper and glue them around the target holes. Using the magic marker, assign point values to each target hole.

Voila! Hours of fun for the kids! There are lots of toys you can make for your children, all simple and inexpensive. All SAFE!