My friends laugh at my toddler’s toys.
But secretly – I know they love them. My weirdo toys keep their children occupied for a few minutes, and aren’t annoying electronics with NOISE. Yes, they are totally up-cycled random pieces of kitchen containers, but they are cool. I want to share my crazy lady homemade toys with you because maybe your kids will enjoy them, too!
So, I am a pediatric occupational therapist. I help kids improve their fine motor skills through play. I get to help families pick out toys, and find creative ways to use things. My own children struggle with certain areas of development, but their fine motor skills are pretty dang sophisticated. The following three DIY kiddo creations have been some of the favorite toys at our house! I often make these for my (close) friends’ kids when they turn one. Because, let’s face it – they are weird, not all friends ‘get’ it. So, here we go!
Pom Pom Container – Save your next container from breadcrumbs or oatmeal with the flexible top. Cut two slits in the top of the plastic lid so that you can push a pom-pom through. Snip the sharp corners if they get in the way, or little fingers get stuck. Decorate the sides if you want! This is great for finger isolation, which is a precursor to holding a pencil and higher level hand skills.
Bottle Cap Container – Grab an empty bottle of liquid dishwasher detergent. With a sharp knife/scissor, cut the top off and make sure there aren’t any sharp edges. Adhere Velcro (hook-and-loop) dots to the bottle caps and opposite sides to the bottle. Be consistent in putting all the soft sides on the caps and rough sides on the bottle, or vice versa. Once the adhesive has set, place caps on the bottle and let your babe pull them off and place them in the bottle. This activity promotes hand strength by pulling the Velcro and bilateral (two-handed) skills as both hands are working to coordinate.
Peg Container – Find a bottle that has an open mouth area, and fill it with any peg-like pieces. Pegs, crayons or small pip-squeak markers work great. My family laughs at me because I save old marker caps when they dry up. Engaging in this activity facilitates hand-eye coordination, as they work to line up the piece to the small hole before dropping it in!
I’m thinking that the operative word in this toy list is container. Container play is an important stage for toddlers as they dump, fill, and repeat. Lets face it, they want to empty everything you just filled (laundry, bags, drawers, etc.) so might as well give them some more practice. Full disclosure, these toys make a little bit of noise, but it sure is satisfying hearing the pom pom drop inside the metal bottom of the container, or the scratch of the Velcro separating. All of these toys have small pieces and if sold in a store would never be for a child under 3, because of the choking hazard. So, use supervision of course!
If anyone has any cheeseball (pun intended) homemade toys, please share them!