Sound it out
An idea that’s an oldie but a goodie, you can use plastic bottles and other containers to create shaking toys your child can make sounds with. Fill several bottles and jars with items of different weights and sizes, such as rice, buttons, beans and rocks, then put the lids on and seal securely with duct tape.
You might even like to pretty them up with fabric or paper wrapping. Even young babies will love rolling and shaking these about, discovering what types of sounds each container makes. You can also use these toys as part of a ‘sound station’ for your child – simply put them on a table or in a corner with other items, such as tins and pots with wooden spoons to bang them with, and let your little musician-in-the-making loose!
Old plastic milk or juice bottles (the kind with handles) become props for a simple ball game when you wash them out and carefully slice off the bottom halves. If needed, use sticky or duct tape along the cut edges to ensure there are no sharp bits, then use your new ‘catchers’ to throw and catch a ball.
This is a game your little one can play by himself, too. As an added bonus: if you cut on an angle, your catchers can perform double-duty as spades for the sandpit or garden.
Let it fly
Plastic containers with handles also make a great base for creating some pretty homemade ‘fliers’.
First, let your child decorate the container with paints, stickers, paper cut-outs and glue, glitter or whatever else takes his fancy.
Then, use sticky tape to help him attach colourful streamers to the bottom of the container and it’s off to the yard or park to run around and watch the creation’s ‘tail’ fly through the air. For something different, you could attach the flier to a thin plastic baton or short and lightweight broomstick to create a toy your tyke can hoist into the air and parade around.
Cap it off
The larger-sized lids of plastic bottles (bigger than 3cm, to avoid a choking hazard) can also be fun!
Save up a collection and use permanent marker or paint to write on the letters of the alphabet for some super-simple ‘letter tiles’ your little learner can play with, or do the same with numbers.
You can also craft a fun memory game by helping your child paint or draw patterns, shapes or characters on the lids, making sure there are two roughly identical copies of each design.
Place the lids face down and take turns trying to uncover a matching pair.