Untoy Toys

Banana sat on the floor last night chewing on the whisk. Then she grabs the handle, bangs the other end on the floor and listens to the prongs ring.

The Bear has her own bag drawer. Our old bags, my old purses and wallets have gone into this drawer. She uses these almost on a daily basis to play whatever is the game de jour.

The magnets often come off the fridge for some basic science. I’m not talking about the children’s alphabet magnets; it’s the strong ‘adult’ ones that the Bear loves to play with. She can play up to an hour on the floor figuring out how to repel or attract the magnets and lining them up like a train.

My sister gives her daughter a tea bag (not black tea!) to play with in the bathtub. This is a big hit. And my niece comes out smelling like chamomile!

It is amazing how many regular household objects turn into ‘toys.’ This hasn’t been an intentional project, but I started to take a mental inventory of the items that the kids play with that aren’t actually meant as toys. This is, of course, a thrifty way to rejuvenate the toy chest. But it is also a way to consider how the ‘regular’ things in your home can initiate play.

Here is my list so far. Please contribute! What objects would you add? I’ll add your suggestions to the list. These must be things that could not be found in a toy store and/or are designed for an adult purpose.

– Whisk
– Cardboard box
– Keys
– Laundry basket
– Magnets
– Used fashion accessories – bags, necklaces, broken watches, etc.
– Toilet paper rolls
– Watering can
– Food cans
– Tea bag in the bathtub
– Flashlight
– Tape measure
– Money (pennies)
– Snow in the sink
– Water in the sink
– Ice cubes in the sink or bathtub
– Envelopes
– Ziploc baggies
– Rocks, sticks, sand
– Plastic water bottle
– Coasters
– Phone
– Cats (let’s say, all pets)
– Dishwasher door (open!) for water play
– Food colouring in water
– Elastic bands

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16 Responses to “Untoy Toys”


  1. 1 chase your dreams meaning June 28, 2013 at 5:31 am

    Hello, I enjoy reading through your article. I like to write a little comment to support
    you.

  2. 2 Nadine May 10, 2010 at 3:28 am

    How about elastic bands. Hours of amusement for me as a child!

    • 3 Mama Tortoise May 10, 2010 at 5:32 am

      Good one. I’ll add it to the list. The Bear recently learned how to use elastic bands to sling shot items across the room…. something that I’m simultaneously annoyed at and proud of.

  3. 4 Blessie May 1, 2010 at 3:45 am

    Some containers, water and food coloring is a great activity. If you open your dishwasher door it is the right height for water activity and contains a lot of the mess.

    • 5 Mama Tortoise May 1, 2010 at 9:46 am

      The dishwasher door for water play – what a great idea! I’ve never heard of that one. And yes, food colouring should definitely be on the list. Thanks, Blessie!

  4. 6 Heather April 30, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Joseph loves the phone…as long as it has a dialtone. And the cats keep him entertained too.

  5. 8 Michelle April 30, 2010 at 4:32 am

    COASTERS!!

  6. 10 Pamella April 29, 2010 at 10:53 am

    The kids on the farm here in Egypt love empty plastic water bottles. They do end up hitting each other with it though! LOL!

    • 11 Mama Tortoise April 29, 2010 at 3:41 pm

      Plastic water bottles are great. The Bear uses them with water play. She was outside with the hose and a water bottle for half an hour last week – by herself, totally entertained.

  7. 12 kristy April 29, 2010 at 3:27 am

    How about car keys? Classic baby rattle!

  8. 14 Perpetua April 29, 2010 at 1:12 am

    Great list! E loves driving canned food around the floor like it’s a truck. 🙂


  1. 1 Sleeping with Rocks « Tortoise on the Loose Trackback on July 31, 2010 at 9:55 am

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