Although stores offer a
multitude of toys, you can create kits and play things that provide
enjoyment and encourage children to be creative. The following are
suggestions for games, toys, and gifts for two- to five year-olds.
The kits take time to assemble, but probably no more time than
searching the stores for the “right” toy. And your child will have
fun helping you put these playthings together and decorating storage
boxes with crayons or contact paper. Choose materials that are
appropriate for your child’s age and supervise as he plays.
In a plastic or cardboard shoe box, place any of the following
colored pencils, magic markers, crayons, chalk, yarn, string, pipe
cleaners, watercolor paints with brushes, small sheets of paper,
glue, tape tissue paper, felt, scraps of fabric, a ruler, old
greeting cards, Popsicle sticks, strips of cardboard or balsa wood,
scissors, and a hole puncher.
In a large plastic or cardboard file box place any of the following:
a calculator, a clipboard, a loose-leaf binder with paper,
stationery, folders, pencils and pens, envelopes, paper clips, an
eraser, stickers, stamps and a stamp pad, and rubber bands.
For three-year-olds and up, make a kit including: a hammer, nails, a
screwdriver, a wrench, pliers, nuts and bolts, measuring tape,
sandpaper, a child’s saw, and Styrofoam pieces to put nails and
screws in. Wood scraps can often be found for free at lumber yards.
You can drive nails and screws partway into a piece of wood 12" x 6"
Then, a young child can hammer and unscrew these safely. Children
should be supervised by an adult when they use the tool box.
To make your own play dough, use the following ingredients: 1 cup of
flour; 4 cup of salt; 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar; 1 cup of
water; 2 tablespoons of oil; 1 tablespoon of food coloring
(optional). Combine the first three ingredients in a large saucepan.
Gradually stir in the water mixed with the oil and food coloring.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until a ball forms.
Remove the dough from the heat and knead it until it is smooth. The
dough can be stored in plastic bags or containers, and put in a kit
with cookie cutters, a rolling pin, small cups, an empty egg carton,
empty thread spools, plastic knives, or other objects that would be
fun to use with dough.
In a cardboard box or a lunch box, place: cardboard, poster board,
large plain file cards, a hole puncher, string, buttons, a plastic
needlepoint needle, yarn, burlap, and scissors.
Forest ranger or camper kit
In a knapsack or cardboard box, store: a canteen, a flashlight, a
com pass, nature books, binoculars, a whistle, sticks, water bottle,
a small cook pot, a magnifying glass, a hat, and boots.
Hair stylist’s supplies
In a large plastic bag or box put: a mirror, rollers, hair pins, a
blow- dryer (toy or real with the cord cut off), combs, brushes,
towels, magazines, empty plastic shampoo bottles, emery boards, play
makeup, jewelry, a pencil, paper, and play money.
You can use a bucket to store: a hat (which you may find for free at
a paint supply store), different sized brushes, and a paint roller,
an old piece of sheet for a drop cloth, a rag, and sandpaper. Your
child can paint out doors with water.
This kit, which can be stored in a big cardboard box, can include: a
fire hat, raincoat, boots, and an old cut piece of garden hose, a
pretend walkie -talkie, goggles, and gloves.
In a box or bag, place: cotton balls, a play thermometer, empty pill
bottles, labels, paper, pens, an old white shirt, bandages,
Band-Aids, plastic syringes, and a toy stethoscope. Some of these
supplies may be obtained for free from your pediatrician.
Sets like these also can be made for police officers, scientists,
nurses, shoe salespersons, grocers, astronauts, magicians, and
waiters/waitresses. You can vary the contents as your child grows
and changes. If you decide to give one of these homemade toys as a
gift, let your child help with the wrapping. She can color on white
tissue paper or newsprint and make her own card by folding paper in
half and decorating it or making a card on the computer.