One of the things we are very passionate about is repurposing and upcycling vast amount of items that are usually trashed. This is a reason why we are running 60 Day Junk Play Challenge with amazing group of bloggers in March and April, just as we finish Less Toys. More Play. Two of these series are interlinked in many ways and today we have mom and photographer Betsy from BPhotoArt.com, who will share with us one of the ways to upcycle old into something kids would enjoy:
Sometimes the best toys are the things you’d never expect. Like the cardboard box that becomes a fort, or the weekly pill organizer that transforms into a “video game.” Kids don’t need a lot of fancy toys to be happy when they’re playing. it’s the commercials that teach them to “want” and our own desires as parents to not “deprive” them of a toy-filled childhood.
But where does imagination thrive? Where does creativity abound? In simplicity. With cast offs and hand-me-downs. When all the thinking has been for a child, and a toy is spelled out in black and white, there’s not much need to use that great tool ….your imagination.
I have fond childhood memories, not of the fancy toys that I received as gifts, but in the simple things. The toys and creations my grandfather “helped” me craft in his workroom, the office supplies that I turned into things for a store or classroom, and the cardboard boxes that became houses for small toys. Creativity keeps a child’s attention.
So, one thing I’ve been intentional about with our boys is to allow open-ended play opportunities. I want my boys to experience imaginative play, to have fun with repurposing common household items and use their creative thinking skills to have fun.
For babies, this can be as simple as setting out a few kitchen utensils — a spoon, mixing bowl, and rubber spatula, for example.
For toddlers, the items can become more complex. We’ve repurposed an old credit card scanner (it was obsolete, not broken), old TV remotes, and even a “demo” cell phone that our salesperson was kind enough to give us at no cost.
These things have been well loved and much used.
The credit card scanner transformed into a cash register (I put tape over the metal teeth that tear the paper), and we had many fond sessions of “store” or “restaurant.” My toddler absolutely loved pretending to swipe credit cards and take money… who needs an authentic cash register with opening drawer when you have one that has lots of fun buttons and a place to slide a credit card?
The TV remote was a go-to toy for quite some time. My son loved pretending to change the channels while watching a show with Daddy. It kept his fingers off the real remote, which was a nice bonus.
The fake cell phone, of course, was used extensively to place calls to Daddy at work, or to grandparents. He even made sure to bring it along on car rides “just like Mommy.”
Imaginative play does not have to be toy free. But by the same token, you don’t have to stock your play room with authentic child-approved toys. If you’ve been given hand-me-down toys that work well, there’s no need to replace them with “better” wooden toys. That’s just wasteful.
We’re all for repurposing — and if we have a plastic hand-me-down toy, sure, I’ll consider keeping it around. But I want the toys we have to contribute to my boys’ creative play. I don’t want them to be unable to cure boredom on their own. I want them to be problem solvers, creative thinkers, to come up with solutions that might be out of the box.
And giving them the opportunity to repurpose old toys, or old electronics, into something new and exciting is one of those perfect opportunities. It’s a chance for creativity and imagination to blossom.
Betsy Finn, M.Photog.Cr.,CPP, lives with her husband, two boys, and two cats in Michigan In addition to being a full-time mom, she has a portrait photography studio and enjoys capturing memories for her clients. Betsy blogs about life as a mom, activities that have caught the interest of her boys, capturing every day memories, and other parenting topics. Some of her most enjoyed posts are:
- Finding Ways for Kids to Discover Nature,
- The ABCs of Photography (an Educational Series for Kids)
- 50 Things You Can Do With Your Toddler While Caring For Your Newborn
All 24 articles we will be sharing during February have been written by a number of prominent family friendly bloggers (some educators, all parents). These articles will be collected and you will find them on our page Less Toys. More Play.
3 Ways to Play with Blocks
5 Fun Activities for Kids with Kitchen Colander
33 Ideas for Sensory Play with Farm Animals
150+ Hands-on Activities for Kids to Learn with Play
Spring Accordion Wreath rom Child’s Artwork