Anyone who’s ever watched a child have a wow of a time with an empty box while the present it once housed sits temporarily forgotten knows that when it comes to play, kids are a creative, innovative lot.
You can follow your littlie’s lead by turning stuff you’ve got laying around into eco-conscious upcycled creations for him to play with. Use your imagination and pretty much anything has playtime potential: decorated empty tissue boxes become funny shoes to stomp around in, old ice-cream tubs are helmets and hats for dress-ups, and milk cartons cut in half become boats to float around.
The following DIY projects are few of my favourites. Some require a quick bit of sewing, but you don’t need to be a whiz with a needle and thread to tackle them – take it from someone whose own sewing skills are lacking!
Turning old facewashers into a puppet pal for bathtime fun is super-simple. Lay out two washers and place your hand on one to see how big you’ll need the puppet to be (not too snug, not too loose). Draw either a rectangle or domed shape around your hand, using the edge of the washer as the base and allowing extra room for sewing a seam. Cut out the shape and use it as a template to cut the same shape out of the second washer.
On one piece you can create a funny face for your facewasher friend. You can embroider eyes, hand-stitch fabric features or draw on other details, for example.
Put this piece face-side up and line the second washer up on top of it. Sew around the edges, leaving the bottom seam, formed by the original edge of the facewashers, open. You can use a machine or sew by hand. Turn the puppet the right way out and there you have it! An amusing way to play and get clean in the bath.
Roll up, roll up
The cardboard tubes from inside rolls of plastic wrap and aluminium foil are perfect for arts and crafts with your tot, so why not make something a (little bit) more permanent for the toybox? Create a little family for your kid to play with by cutting the rolls down to different sizes: a couple of tall ones for the mummy and daddy and some medium- and small-sized ones for the kids.
Help your littlie paint the rolls with people, animal or monster characters, or give it a go yourself if you want to make something a little more ‘professional’ (hop online for amazing inspiration).
Once the designs are dry, you can wrap the rolls in clear contact for durability and cut circles of cardboard to attach as bases to make the characters more sturdy.
Sock it to ’em
Sock puppets are a time-honoured playtime tradition and making them can be as simple or complex as you like.
Pop your child’s hand or your own paw in the sock to see where the face features need to go. You can then scribble these on with permanent markers, fabric pens or paints, glue on features such as googly eyes, or sew on faces, hair, ears, tongues and other accessories.
Do a quick Google image search and see where your creativity takes you!
It’s also easy enough to turn a sock into a simple doll by sewing on the face features, stuffing the sock and sewing it closed.
Turn your tyke’s pillow into a character-filled cuddle buddy by jazzing up an old pillowcase.
Using washable fabric paints or pens, craft a big, cute face on the case, which you can take on and off for playing and sleeping situations.
You can even sew on strips of fabric, or stuffed fabric tubes, for long arms and legs, though these extra-snazzy pillows aren’t the best for bedtime.
Have a think and see what other upcycled toys you can make!