Everyone is the perfect parent… until they have a child. Before I had my daughter, I swore to myself that I wouldn’t waste money on children’s toys, but now I realize what a “cute” sentiment that is. Don’t get me wrong, we make an effort to invest mostly on experiences instead of material things, but like it or not, whether gifted or bought, our kids tend to accumulate a lot of stuff, especially after holidays and birthdays. To shift that narrative, we have to demonstrate how fun D.I.Y. toys can be. It’s also a way to raise more environmentally-conscious children by repurposing everyday household items! Let’s get creative and have a great bonding experience with our kids–here are some unique ideas to get you started!
This is a personal fave at home because it smells amazing and it captures my little one’s attention for a long period of time. It’s perfect for destressing and quiet play before naps. Also, any excuse for me to whip out my essential oils is always welcome.
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of salt
2 tbs of cream of tartar
1 tbs of oil
Purple food coloring
1 cup of boiling water
1/2 teaspoon of lavender essential oil
Let your kid mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. The adult should handle the cup of boiling water, mixed with the lavender oil and purple food coloring. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients to pour in the water, stir together until it is cool enough for kneading by hand. Your kid can join in again once cool and you can start kneading together. Just sprinkle more flour if you want it smoother.
Ah, slime. The bane of my existence because of how it sticks to clothes and everywhere you don’t want it to, and it’s such a pain to take off… but your kids love it. Here is a better option for you both:
1/2 cup cornflour
18-20 teaspoons of water
Food coloring of your choice
Pour water in a small cup and mix with the food color of your choice. Put the cornflour in a dish and add 10-12 teaspoons of your colored water. Mix with a spoon till it starts to look a bit crumbly, then while mixing, slowly add more drops of colored water till you get a gooey slimy consistency. If too watery, just add more cornflour, if it becomes too dry then just pour in a bit more colored water. The right consistency drips down like a goopy mess but when you grab a bunch, you should be able to roll it in a ball.
I’m familiar with the first two, but the squishy trend wasn’t around when I was growing up. They’re like slow-rise versions of a stress ball. You’d be surprised how expensive they can be at the mall, but why buy when you can actually make one from materials that you already own?
An old memory foam pillow
Fabric paint in various colors
Paper plate for paint
Wax paper or parchment paper
An old memory foam pillow can make a lot of squishies of different shapes and sizes. If you don’t already own one, you can get them for cheap at Daiso or Japan Home Centre. Cut the memory foam into smaller, more manageable pieces. (Do this part if your kid is still too young to handle sharp scissors.) For a watermelon slice squishy, cut out a rectangle before cutting it into a rough half-circle shape. Fine-tune and cut off bit by bit until satisfied with the shape, then have your kids pour some paint on the paper plate. Let them paint the red center, the green edge, and finally add some black fabric paint for the seeds. Place the squishy on wax/parchment paper to dry overnight.
My daughter loves bowling, and this D.I.Y. project is so simple, yet so fun, especially when the whole family joins in to play! It’s also a great way to upcycle all those soda/water plastic bottles in one go.
10 plastic bottles
Paint colors of your choice
Remove the caps and clean the plastic bottles thoroughly. Pour a small amount of paint in each one, and add a spoonful of water if the paint is too thick. Replace the caps and let your kid shake, shake, shake to spread the color. Pour out any excess, leave the caps off and let them dry overnight. The next day, you can use the glue gun to keep the caps securely in place. Grab any ball and enjoy it!
There is a ton of research about the benefits of sensory play in children. It helps in brain development, and it’s no wonder why most of our D.I.Y.s here are things that can be smooshed, squished, or felt. Nature’s sensory board is as eco-friendly as you can get!
Piece of cardboard from any box (could make up to 4 boards)
A small bucket or eco bag for each kid
Soap and water for cleaning
Take your kids to the nearest park, give them each a bucket/bag and let them collect nature “treasures” that look and feel interesting for them. Supervision is of course necessary to ensure they don’t get ant bites or pick out anything too damp or fragile. It could be sticks, twigs, dried leaves, flowers or rocks, etc.
Once you get home, have them wash their finds with soapy water and encourage them to lay it out however they want in their own boards. Use the glue gun for them and follow the kids’ direction as to what goes where. For older kids, this could also be an art project, a nature collage instead of a sensory board.
Do you want to build a snowman? Who doesn’t love Frozen? Girls and boys alike are obsessed with Olaf and this is a nifty little project that you and your kids can make–no sewing required!
1 bobby sock
Approximately 1 1/3 cups of rice (for larger socks, use more rice)
2 round cotton balls
Orange felt — just a small piece
Large googly eyes (1 cm in diameter)
Adhesive-backed black felt–one sheet of sticky-backed felt is enough for 12 snowmen.
3 clear hair elastics.
Hot glue gun and glue
Free Olaf Features Printable
Transfer around 3/4 cups rice into the bottom of the sock, squeeze and shake until you get your desired shape for Olaf’s bottom. Ensure that the top of the sock is right in the middle. Secure sock tightly just above the rice with a clear headband. For the middle part, repeat the process with pouring 1/8 cup of rice into the sock, squeeze and shakedown the rice, then secure the section with a second clear hairband. For the head, pour a little less than half a of cup rice into the sock, squeeze, shakedown and shape the rice so the head is taller than it is wide, and secure it with the third clear hairband. Use hot-glue to secure the balls in place. Use the free printable pattern to trace on the black felt. Cut with scissors. Cut any triangle shape on orange felt for the nose. Stick on the pieces and secure them with hot glue, along with the googly eyes. Add the arms and cotton balls for feet.