Right Before Your Eyes!

Via many of the facebook ramblings of my close friends and family, it seems that many of us have discovered that there is not a single toy that compares to the remote control, our cell phone (and what happens when it mixes with water), our keys, or the air conditioning vent blowing the curtains around. Yessirree, folks … we can buy the most expensive toy in the store, and yet daddy’s wallet will take the cake!

Of course we will continue to shower our kiddos with these wonderful new developmental toys with flashy labels and bright lights and obnoxious noises … but you can find some brand spankin’ new toys that your child just might fall in love with … right before your very own eyes! It just takes a different perspective and a little creativity to develop your very own “wow, I should sell this!” kinda toy! Here are a few of my own! Are you ready?!!!! Here we go!!!

Toy #1: The Parmesan Cheese Shaker Do-Hicky

All you need is an empty parmesan cheese shaker bottle (you know … the kind that you dump on top of your spaghetti … I don’t even know why they have the small shaker holes, I go right for the big one!) and some straws. I used colored bendy straws and cut the tops off right under the bendy part (more on that later).

This magical toy has many exciting features …

You can use it as a counting toy, focusing on one-to-one correspondence as your kiddo puts each straw in one. by. one. AND they even have a choice! They can put the straws into the big hole (shown above) or…

into the tiny holes that no one uses to shake the cheese out. AND … they have those choices to get the straws OUT, too! Tadah! Magic.

Now. What about those left over bendy parts of the straw? Throw them away? I dare not! No way! (wow, I’m the next Dr. Seuss!)

There is ALWAYS a use for everything. So much, so, in fact, that your husband accuses you of becoming a hoarder because you keep way to many toilet paper tubes, egg carton sections and, uh, left over bendy straw parts. Ready for this?

Easy peasy. Toy #2: Bendy Straw Lacing!

We love lacing. Lacing builds fine motor skills and practices hand-eye coordination. All you need is to cut up those left over bendy pieces into appropriate sizes for your kiddo and  a shoe lace! Please note, these little pieces are incredibly enticing for wee ones, so please keep a careful eye on your kids, no matter what their age.

Okay. I’m on a roll! Ready for toy #3? Well, actually. Because I’m a teacher, it’s not really a toy. But I’ll let my daughter think it is.

I love. love. love. Melissa and Doug play food sets. One of them I own (thanks to Christmas and Gramma!) is the beginning pattern block set. But I do have to say. I’m a bit disappointed in their packaging. Because it came with a bazillion pattern block pieces and absolutely NOTHING to contain them. They should know better. SO. I placed the entire set in a plastic shoebox and almost threw the box away. Almost. And then my husband rolled his eyes as the lightbulb shined above my head and I came up with this grand idea.

Toy #3: The Sorting Box-a-ma-jig

This is the box, which had 2 almost equal sections (and NO. LID.) … and from this “useless” piece of wood, I created my very own sorting chamber. The illustrations you see inside are from 1+1+1=1’s nativity tot pack, which sorts animals from people (um…as noted by the titles). But 2-3 is a great age to begin teaching our wee ones to distinguish differences between objects and categorize them into “like” groups.

These toys are far from magnificent, but it gives you an idea of how to look for items in your own home that will entertain and even teach your toddler without ever stepping outside of your home (into the snow that we Coloradans have been asking for and are now complaining about). Be creative and watch for the delightful expression that washes over your husband’s face as you pick up a piece of “trash” and say “I know JUST what to do with this!” It’s even more valuable than the “toy” you’re about to create, I promise!

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