What's a fun way to repurpose household items into toys or crafts?

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26  Answers

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You can make fun projects with empty yogurt containers, toilet paper rolls, and those free address sticker pictures.

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I love glass jars! Spaghetti sauce, jelly, salsa, you name it! They are great for all kinds of storage - pantry, fridge, freezer, craft items...... And they look so cute. You can even dress them up by painting the lids (with leftover house paint) or add cute labels.

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I don't do a lot of planned crafts but I think ingenuity is one of my strong skills. I can usually come up with something off the top of my head so I find that to be the most fun. Most of the time I leave the ideas for repurposing up to her. Her little imagination comes up with things I never would. One of our longest lasting repurposing was our old paintbrushes. Instead of pitching them I handed them over to my girl. On sunny days she'll take them out with water and "paint" designs. She loves to watch them evaporate and then paint all new ones again.

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I'm not the craftiest of moms, but I love using food boxes or containers and adding them to my daughter's play kitchen. I'm a serious foodie, and the most beautiful French Macaron box is where my daughter's "baking goods" are kept! It also teaches her about organization!

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Get the kids involved. You'd be surprised the creative ideas THEY come up with!

But boxes are always my favorite. I grew up with a stack of repurposed cardboard boxes (attached together and backed with strips of cardboard to help stabilize them) as a doll house. Shoe boxes can become doll beds, mini houses for small toys, or even just catchalls for the little annoying bits that always seem to find their way under my bare feet...
And right now my girls' favorite activity is to sit in a giant box that my older one (5) drew on to look like a house. They don't both fit in there unless the flaps are open, but they sit nicely side-by-side eating their snack or reading a story together. Super cute!

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Household items can be combined with objects found in nature to create fun and natural toys and crafts. We keep a few baskets filled with foods (pasta, beans, seeds, nuts), yarn, string, scraps of fabric, sticks, shells, acorns, leaves and pinecones. Another handy item is natural glue from The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule. Simply combine a 3:1 ratio of flour and sugar in a saucepan. Slowly add cold water until a paste forms. Stir over heat until the mixture thickens. Add 1 tsp. of white vinegar. This will keep in the fridge for a few weeks. Warm to room temperature before use. Old fashioned pinecone bird feeders are fun, easy to create and you probably have most of the materials on hand. Learn how to make DIY Pinecone Bird Feeders here ~ http://naturealmom.com/project-diy-bird-feeders/

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My son LOVES anything repurposed - probably more than actual toys! Pots and pans paired with wooden spoons are always great noise makers, empty paper towel rolls make great "telescopes" and "megaphones", and he loves pouring and sorting beans into empty egg cartons. We've also made homemade rattles by filling up small plastic water bottles with beans, rice, or rocks. We use empty egg cartons to mix paint colors, and he loves putting pipe cleaners into the holes of a colander (toothpicks into a parmesan cheese shaker works well also!).

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Upcycling and repurposing items is so fun!

You can turn any piece of scrap wood, old lamp, jewelry box or milk jug into a canvas for your child to paint on. Use them to make a sign for your child's room or one for the garden, gift for the grandparents or colorful containers for storing toys. I also love to use old Scrabble letter tiles to glue on. These give a nice collage look to any project and make personalization fun and easy.

Nail polish art is also cool. We recently took some empty glass bottles out of our recycling and used nail polish to paint and decorate them. It's quick and easy and each color has a built in brush so that makes it really convenient. Just don't forget about the fumes, make sure you have a fan on or window open.

Cardboard sculptures are also a household favorite here. Take any cereal box or cardboard and cut into a variety of squares. Then give your child the pieces and a roll of masking or painters tape. From cubes to castles, tee-pees to fire trucks, this occupies my kids for a long time and they love all the three dimensional creations they can make.

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I love using old cardboard paper towel rolls to make various craft items for the kids like bird feeders,cars,toys..etc..the sky's the limit.
I also love re-purposing clothing into new items, like old shirts into skirts, knee high socks into leggings and so on. I can't sew but with a little bit of stitching here and there you can get some neat products. :)

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There are so many great eco crafts that you can do to create your own toys. I like to start with my recycling bin and think about ways to repurpose things. From tin cans for bowling pins to toilet paper rolls for airplanes, you are only limited by creativity!

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Since we homeschool, we always repurpose just about everything into a craft for art projects or even science projects! Whenever we have upcoming projects I look at the list of supplies needed and go through and think of what I might be able to use from our household instead before going out and buying something!

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One of the most recent crafts I did with my daughter and two of her friends was making necklaces out of straws, yarn, and card stock. We cut "beads" out of decorative paper using craft punches and half inch pieces of straw. It's the perfect activity for toddlers to help with fine motor skills. http://www.diyinspired.com/recycled-straw-necklace-craft-for-kids/

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We like to make our art supplies out of things that we already have around the house. I have always felt like the stench that comes from kid's paint, has GOT to mean it is not as "non-toxic" as they claim, so I came up with a really GREAT paint recipe using normal household ingredients! We also love to make sock puppets, bean bags, musical instruments, and so much more out of household materials!
http://www.thehippyhomemaker.com/?p=2269

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We like to make our art supplies out of things that we already have around the house. I have always felt like the stench that comes from kid's paint, has GOT to mean it is not as "non-toxic" as they claim, so I came up with a really GREAT paint recipe using normal household ingredients! We also love to make sock puppets, bean bags, musical instruments, and so much more out of household materials!
http://www.thehippyhomemaker.com/?p=2269

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Since there are a couple of medications that my husband has to be on now (though I'm working towards treating his troubles with nutrition), we often have a lot of empty medicine bottles to either reuse or throw away. I've found these empty medicine bottles to be handy for holding paint for my son to use, to store homemade sprinkles for when we decorate cookies, and to wrangle together any kind of small toys or art objects. They're also good for storing spices.

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toilet paper rolls and egg cartons can be made into so many different art projects. we always keep a stash for a rainy day. Having a box of scraps of fabrics, feathers, lids, etc. is a great way to have some extra supplies that can be used any time. I have many repurposed craft projects on my blog like CD dreamcatchers, milk jug whales, toilet paper roll trees, egg crate animals, bubble wrap trees, puzzle piece wreaths and much more.

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A few fun ways I've reused and repurposed household items into toys is by:

- Washing emptied screw top containers for a matching game. My young children have fun playing with a variety of emptied bottles; they try to find the matching lids and screw on the tops.

- Using emptied squirtable condiment bottles for outdoor water play.

I save emptied toilet paper rolls for a variety of crafts, and I've found that paper egg cartons can be used in crafts, sorting games, or to start vegetable and herb seeds with your children.

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In preparation for Hurricane Sandy’s approach I purchased a bunch of baby food pouches. Prior to that I had made all the baby food but since I anticipated losing power I needed to have some on hand. We saved the caps to the pouches in a jar and we use them now as a counting toy, to help with color lessons, and just to build tall buildings. Those tops have provided hours of enjoyment for my kids and we still have them 6 months later. It helps ease my guilt that we are able to use them over and over again for some fun activities.

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My kids love playing with water and a big tub of water with cups, plastic containers, spoons, ladles and strainers can entertain them all afternoon.

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Up-cycling, recycling, repurposing - all such great ways to save "things" from entering the landfill and really help show the next generation just how savvy you are :)

We recently started making a village using the plastic containers that grapes come in. We can decorate them, cut out door spots and continually build the village. You can keep scrap paper/cuttings to help with the decoration as well. Keep a small box or bag of scrap paper to keep the organization alive.

Of course sheets can be come fort building supplies and costumes as well!

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My daughter loves toilet paper and paper towel rolls. So we often create megaphones and binoculars with them. My daughter also enjoys music. So we use our empty protein canisters as drums.

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I love to reuse things whenever I can - peanut butter jars make great drums or maracas and pickle jars are wonderful for storing all your craft items. We recently made "rain sticks" with old paper towel rolls and that was a huge hit, even if it drove the cat crazy!

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What can you not do with an old sheet? It's a tent (if draped over two chairs), it's a boat (if artfully arranged on the floor), it's a picnic blanket (even in the dead of winter, if you set up in the living room); it's a king's or queen's mantel or a magician's cape; it a slide or a hammock for dolls and stuffed animals. And you can always curl up under it and take a nap.

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My son loves coloring or painting on unique canvases. We save anything with blank space - especially cardboard or packing paper to be colored on. He also loves turning things into bugs. An old egg carton can become a caterpillar or the lid of an old jar can become a ladybug.

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I look at everything through the eye of repurposing! I'm also an anti-hoarder who loves to throw things out, which can be a conundrum. I always save really pretty wrapping paper, bows etc. and even pictures from cards, for future crafts.

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One of our favorite things to do last winter was to take the many catalogs that were arriving and use them for collages. We sorted by type of animal, color and size. I wrote a post about it here: http://www.craftygardenmama.com/2012/11/tv-free-friday-how-kids-can-use-holiday-catalogs/

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