Friday, January 30, 2009

Fun From Scratch

As I sit in my living room writing this, I am looking at what can only be described as a toy disaster. The room looks as if a big toy bomb went off and rained down doodle pads and legos and match box cars from the sky. I'm realizing two things. 1) My 3 year old has more toys than should be allowed by law. 2) We didn't buy them!

I'll admit to getting him a few toys/games at Christmas. For his birthday we buy him one gift. And that's it for new things. Throughout the year we may pick something up at a yard sale or thrift store once in awhile, otherwise he is seriously spoiled by friends and family.

I almost hate to admit (okay, I absolutely LOVE it) that his favorite toys right now are the rocket ship that his dad helped him make last weekend and the flying caterpillar that he and I made this week. It makes me wonder just what would happen if we weren't blessed with so many generous people in our lives. Would second hand and hand made be enough for him? I'd like to think so.

Here are the projects we did this week...

#1 - The spaceship

My son is totally into rockets and astronauts and planets this month. He has the planets more or less memorized (although he calls them "Jupiper" and "Saturin").

He and his dad got all MacGuyver on a paper towel roll and cardboard from a cereal box. We don't even use paper towels anymore so I had to go dig out a secret stashed-away roll and unravel the paper towels from it. They cut out "legs" for the spaceship and taped them on, then made a cone for the top. All put together with duct tape. Not exactly environmentally friendly, but much more so than the plastic rocket they saw at the store that was made in China from goodness-knows-what kind of chemical-laden plastic, right?

(My husband took these photos, I think this was his attempt at a MacGuyver joke!)

Little one played with it all day, flying it around and giving a play-by-play of what was happening. He's developing quite the little imagination!

#2 - The Caterpillar

This idea came from a little book we found called Making Caterpillars and Butterflies by Sandy Dunbier. We haven't tried the butterfly yet, but the caterpillar was super-easy. You take an egg carton and cut out a strip from the bottom. That's the body. Have the child paint it and decorate with anything you have on hand. We don't have any glitter or sparkles like they suggested, so we just painted ours. Then use a pipe cleaner for antenna. We also glued on button eyes and yarn for a mouth.

These projects are so easy. They not only keep your child occupied (especially on those winter "inside days") but they teach things like planning and following directions. In the end, they have a toy they can be proud of, that has cost you next to nothing, and is much easier on the environment than what you'll find in a store.

I'll be hosting next week's Make if From Scratch blog carnival over at my blog
Greenhab. I hope you'll all enter!


  1. Great craft ideas! The simple toys are the ones kids love the most. Once I realized this with my Son, we donated his other toys to Goodwill. Your son is a cutie!

  2. That caterpillar is great! No matter how we try to limit the toys they seem to grow out of control! We clean ours out every October for a consignment sale. It helps some.

  3. The 'toy bomb' goes off every day in our house! It's crazy and like you we didn't buy many of them at all! My monster (that what we call him) seems to prefer happy meal toys, simple building blocks, hot wheels, and his big brothers robot spiderman. Most days I think he'd live just fine without everything else even though grandma and grandpa wouldn't! ;)

  4. Hi, looks like your son did a better paper rocket than I did when I was more than twice his age. :-]

  5. What great crafts! I am going to try the caterpillar with my sons, they are really into crafts right now. (they are 3 and almost 2)

    It`s funny, I frequently look around and realize that my kids have virtually NO toys . . . their paternal grandmother gets them clothes for Christmas and birthdays and my parents live too far away to send stuff bigger than stickers and such. So we basically have one electronic letter toy, two Tonka trucks, some play dishes and some real dishes (my measuring cups are no longer mine), some cheap (broken) plastic cars and a TON of books. And yet . . . they`re never bored! They play with sticks and balls half the time anyway. lol


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