Best DIY toy/pretend play ideas for preschoolers


Taking cue from my last blog, where I spoke about going minimal with toys (read , today I am going to walk the talk, literally!

I will be sharing some easy DIY strategies, where you can create some easy open ended toys, to foster creativity and imagination in your kids. The best part is you can keep them involved in the process of creation, to help them derive the thrill of creating something. This helps, because children learn to value something that they create more than the ready made ones. Not to mention, the firsthand experience and the wisdom they gain in understanding the science and art of creating something!

Try it and believe it!

  • Cereal boxes/bottles for blocks: – Just in case, your kid is tired of Lego blocks and you are thinking of getting another one, try this. Give him some pieces of wooden blocks or some regular cereal or other amazon cardboard boxes to make something. My son loves the idea of creating tall towers with empty boxes and plastic bottles. To create a toy like feeling, just wrap it with some neat looking gift paper or paint the boxes together with bright colors.
  • Big cardboard boxes for cars: – For all those moms, who have car fanatics as kids, this one is a must try. Try using the bigger cardboard boxes for creating cars or other interesting vehicles they fancy. I once made a lightning McQueen out of a big box and painted it red. While putting the appropriate car parts, like steering wheel, tires, headlights, tail lights and a number plate, my son learnt the essentials of a car. Now I’m gearing up to create a camper van, out of tow big cardboard boxes, with parts like Satellite navigation and a bunk bed inside, right out of the “Peppa Pig” story books. This exercise is fun and a learning experience, as my son learns about some minute details around the basic structure of a car. The perk is, he is engaged for hours, driving it around and showing off!
  • Easy to create doll house: – Another easy way to reuse your old cardboard boxes or an unused shelf in a cupboard is to transform it into a doll house. Revamp two shelves, preferably up and down or use two boxes, by placing them up and down, to create a two-floor structure. Use a cardboard to partition it further, to create the illusion of separate rooms. Place a small book or another small sized box for bed with a piece of cloth as blanket for bedroom and try placing some kitchen toys for setting up the kitchen. You can  place appropriate accessories for each rooms planned. This is a thrilling experience for kids, who love to pretend play with doll house or a pretend-play school.
  • Bowling alley right out of plastic bottles: – Another easy DIY for kids who like to have some physical activity inside the house. Reuse empty plastic bottles, paint them and label them with numbers and use them as bottles to knock down in your “bowling alley” game. I do this at times with my kid as an exercise to teach him about numbers. It’s fun and sometimes he even uses it as a hurdle to jump inside home.
  • Water world/Zoo with play dough or animal cutouts:-If your kids have toy sea animals, create a fun water park for the kid, by placing a huge bath bucket. Put some edible blue color and let him create his own water park for animals. The same can be done with regular farm animals or with basic animal cutouts or even animal play dough molds as well. All you have to do is place them over a bright green chart paper or cloth and put up some plants (to act as trees), to re-create a perfect setting for jungle scene. Your kid will end up creating his own jungle story and will stay engaged for some time!
  • Create your own slime: – Although a little messy, but highly fruitful is the art of creating slime. Mixing equal parts of glue with shaving foam and some edible food color is all that goes into making it. Kids will love this experience of creating it. I helped my son to create a slime aquarium with some blue slime and plastic fishes and some shells in a plastic, see-through container. He loved it.
  • Magnetic numbers/alphabets: – Either fridge or any other magnetic board will work well to have these fun magnetic numbers or alphabets. This is good exercise when teaching kids about numbers or to just let them have fun racing the numbers/alphabets against each other!
  • Kinetic sand:- This is something I swear by. My son loves to create a beach with this sand in a large bucket, placing his toy plants and animals and a boat in and around. This sensorial activity is fun and a good engagement for kids.
  • Story telling with stones/pebbles: off late, my son has picked up the fascination of collecting stones and pebbles. He keeps them in a trinket box and uses them as money for his pretend-play exercise. I found it a fun way to color them and put stickers of certain animals and make them full-fledged characters for some story telling exercise. It was fun and my son enjoyed keeping himself entertained with stone characters!
  • Art splash with regular water colors: – Nothing fancy, this just requires a plain drawing notepad or some blank A4 sheets for some random splashes of paint here and there. To you it might be a mess, but for your kid it’s his work of art. My son loves doing hand paint exercise of putting colors inside cookie cutter molds, placed on paper, to create colored animals!
  • Create some DIY paper outfits for pretend play: – Be it a superhero or a fairy, an appropriate DIY costume is all that triggers the mood for some serious pretend play in kids. My son loves to play the role of some or the other super hero. For this, I give him an unused cloth and drape it around like a cape with an unused party cap, painted to suit the certain superhero image and off he goes sprinting and jumping like one rescue hero on a mission! He loves it. Nothing gives him that Adrenalin rush than the costume! It’s a big hit!

Children usually look forward to toy like things because toys or other makeshift toy elements give a concrete structure to their imagination and help in pretend play. Help them gain that concrete base for their play through appropriate DIY crafts and you will see, how happy they are playing on their own for hours!

I am not such an artsy-craftsy mother, but for the sake of keeping my child entertained, I have developed an inclination for it! While on the lookout for some easy DIY crafts for play, I stumbled upon some easy craft ideas, shared by mom bloggers. I too am sharing their work. It’s inspiring and so very easy!

I hope you will like and benefit from it, as much as I have done it!

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