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.” Here we shall take a look into ways to repurpose old techology into toys for imaginative play. As a result, kids will play more and we will spend less.
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.
Simple Things Boost Child’s Imagination
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.
Allow Open-Ended Play Opportunities
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.
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.
How to Repurpose Old Technology for Play?
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.
Imaginative Play with Repurposed Old Technology
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.”
Don’t Exclude All Toys
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.
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.
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, just as we finish Less Toys. More Play. series.
Today we had mom and photographer Betsy from BPhotoArt.com, who shared with us one of the ways to upcycle old into something kids would enjoy.
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READ NEXT IN LESS TOYS. MORE PLAY. SERIES
- 5 Things to Consider When Choosing Toys (And What to Avoid)
- Simple Washing Station for Toddlers
- Playing without Commercial Toys