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How to Make Homemade Toys for Toddlers

by Kathryn Hatter, studioD

Although you can spend a lot of money on toys and entertainment for a toddler, this is an unnecessary expenditure to keep your child occupied. Toddlers do enjoy toys and playthings, but these items needn't to be extravagant or expensive. Homemade toys for toddlers provide both education and amusement for busy little people. Many toddlers will enjoy the process of making the playthings with you as well.


Make a variety of homemade drums for a toddler. Use plastic containers of various sizes, such as large yogurt containers, butter containers and individual yogurt containers. Place lids on the containers and decorate with construction paper. Children can bang on the containers with plastic spoons.

Create a bongo drum by tying two small oatmeal containers together with colorful ribbons. With the lids on the containers, children can use their hands to tap out rhythmic beats. Encourage toddlers to decorate the oatmeal containers with paint before you tie them together.

Decorate the bottom sides of two paper plates with markers or crayons. Place one of the plates decorated side down. Count five dried beans and place them on the undecorated side of the plate. Place the second plate over the first plate, decorated side up, with the beans in between. Staple the paper plates together to seal the beans inside. Show children how to shake the paper plates as homemade tambourines.

Pretend Play

Make simple puppets out of colorful socks. Paint eyes, nose and mouth onto a sock to create a puppet face. Another option is to glue felt shapes onto the puppet to create a face. Use circle shapes for the eyes, a triangle for the nose and a large oval for the mouth. Show a toddler how to insert her hand into the puppet and make it talk. Or put the puppet on your own hand and read a book to the toddler with the puppet as the voice.

Use a large empty box to make a stove for a toddler. Tape the box securely to make it strong. Cover the box with patterned contact paper or wrapping paper. Draw the burners of a stove on top of the box. Cut out a flap on the front for the oven door. Draw circles on the front of the box as knobs for the stove.

Create a pretend vehicle for a toddler out of an appliance box. Place the box on its side and cut out the top to make it into a car. Place a stool inside the box as the child’s seat. Glue a large paper plate inside the box to serve as the steering wheel. Glue four plates on the outside of the box as the wheels. Decorate the outside of the box so it looks like a car.

Building Tools

Make nesting blocks out of an assortment of boxes that will fit into each other. Cut off the tops of the boxes so you have open blocks. Cover the boxes with wrapping paper or contact paper. Show the toddler how to start with the biggest box and insert the next biggest box into this box. The toddler can sort the boxes and insert them into each other in descending order.

Create building blocks out of half-gallon, quart and half-pint milk cartons. Wash the cartons thoroughly and allow them to dry. Cut off the tops and fit one carton into another similarly sized carton to create one block. Show toddlers how to build large buildings with these super-sized blocks.

Cover wood blocks with scraps of fabric in assorted colors and textures. Glue the fabric securely so it covers the blocks neatly. Show toddlers how to explore the blocks with different textures and colors. Children can build with the blocks or just focus on sensory exploration.

Items you will need
  •  Plastic containers
  •  Construction paper
  •  Oatmeal containers
  •  Ribbons
  •  Washable paint
  •  Paper plates
  •  Markers or crayons
  •  Dried beans
  •  Stapler
  •  Socks
  •  Felt
  •  Scissors
  •  Glue
  •  Large cardboard box
  •  Tape
  •  Contact paper or wrapping paper
  •  Appliance box
  •  Stool
  •  Paper plates
  •  Boxes
  •  Milk cartons
  •  Wood blocks
  •  Fabric


  • 365 Games Smart Toddlers Play: Creative Time to Imagine, Grow And Learn; Sheila Ellison
  • Making Toys for Infants and Toddlers: Using Ordinary Stuff for Extraordinary Play; Linda G. Miller and Mary Jo Gibbs
  • Play and Learning Program: Homemade Toys

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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