7 Ways to Extend the Play Life of Toys

Kids love new toys.  Doesn’t matter if it is a dollar store piece of garbage that’s going to break after the first use, or an expensive set of Magna Tiles.  If it is new, it rules.  But most parents are not keen on daily trips to Toy R Us. Our hopes of being the cool mom or dad were crushed the first time we uttered “You have plenty of toys.  Play with the ones you’ve got!”

There are tons of ways to make old toys new again.  Here are seven tips to get your children looking at their toys in a new light.

1.  Rotate- We never have all of our toys out at once.  I fill a few bins of toys and put them in the closet.  When the boys start to get bored with their available assortment, I pull down one of the bins from the closet.  It’s like they’ve never seen them before.

2.  Freeze- Want to stage an icy rescue for your favorite super hero?  Fill a small plastic container with water, plop in an action figure and freeze it.  Let your kids explore ways to get the figure out of the ice quickly.  Use water, different kinds of salt, and toy hammers.  Great opportunity for sensory play and even a little science.

3.  Draw- Have your child select a toy to draw.  Improve vocabulary by talking about terms such as perspective and still life.

4.  Present- As any great chef will tell you, presentation is key.  Parents want toys out of the way, which usually means tossed into bins and boxes.  Not very inspiring.  Leave a play invitation by simply placing toys in an attractive setup and wait for your child to find them.

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5. Paint- Let your child paint the toys.  No, I haven’t lost my mind.  I’m not talking about that super expensive remote control car.  Give them an assortment of inexpensive, random figures and allow them to paint them.  They just might become some of their favorites.

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6.  Wash- One of our community programs used to have a monthly messy play session.  One of the stations was simply to wash a bear.  They would fill a tub with soap and water and provide sponges and brushes to give the bears a bath.  I have used this countless times to help my boys remember the fun of an old toy.

7.  Hide- Who doesn’t love a game of hide and go seek?  Wondering what to do with that mountain of stuffed animals that grows every birthday and holiday?  Hide them and have your kids find them.  Add a pair of binoculars made out of toilet paper rolls, and you’ve got an animal expedition.

How do you breathe life into old toys?

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