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With Christmas just around the corner, it’s hard not to think about kids and the potential presents one might give them. But toys these days are pretty disappointing. Who wants to give kids expensive pieces of plastic which will get broken or ignored in no time? Why not make your own kids toys?
For those of you with a crafty, DIY instinct, toy-making probably comes naturally to you. Other people might need just a little bit of inspiration and a few tutorials to get started. Thankfully, the internet is full of great ideas, photos of finished products and free tutorials to help newbies get on the right track.
Finding free tutorials and ideas can be as easy as an image search for your specific idea (with “Free” + “Tutorial” in there), or you might prefer to be pointed in the direction of some useful forums or collections for easy, free guides.
Home-made toys are not only cheap “” they’re unique, interesting, ecologically friendly, intellectually stimulating, durable and often simple enough to be used for multiple purposes. You won’t even know what games your children will come up with for home-made toys until they start playing with them.
Here’s some easy toy ideas to get you started.
1. Wooden Toys
Wooden toys are a great place to start if you’ve got a shed and want to make toys. Try making building blocks in bright colours, toy ovens, rocking horses, cubby houses, instruments, kites, cars, trucks, boats, go-karts, sleds, bowling sets, board games, puzzles, swings and doll houses. These are all favourites when it comes to wooden toys.
Also try adding in a few magnets or propulsion mechanisms to make them even more interesting!
Some Great Free Resources For Wooden Toys:
- Children’s Plans DIY Woodwork
- Free WoodWorking Plans For Kids Toys
- Curbly’s List of Free Wooden Toy Plans
- Centipede Shown in Picture) (See
2. Soft Toys & Dolls
Soft toys are only limited by your own imagination. There are many cute designs out there to get you started with a basic shape, then take a look at Flickr groups and crafty forums to get more inspiration for your own individual style.
Some Great Free Resources For Soft Toys & Dolls:
- Crafster Forum – Soft Toys Completed Projects
- Softies Awards – Flickr Pool
- Stuffed Felt Monsters Tutorial by Nina Cuneo
- Make Baby Stuff – Homemade Toys Tutorials (See Christmas Elf Pattern Shown)
3. Felt Toys
Felt toys are such a booming craft craze at the moment that they deserve a mention distinct from your everyday soft toys. Using felt and a little stuffing, you can easily make sets of toys for your kids that will keep them entertained for ages.
For example, you could make a selection of felt food so that your kids can design sandwiches, bento boxes, tea-parties, breakfast or dinner. This would be great with a toy oven and a cubby house! Or you could make a box full of tiny felt animals, so that kids can make jungle scenes or farms.
Some Great Free Resources For Felt Food:
- American Felt and Craft – Felt Food
- Handmade Felt Food Flickr Group
- Belladia’s Felt Food Tutorial Collection
- Felt Food – Google Image Search (for inspiration)
4. Science Toys
Science toys usually have geek appeal, because they’ll be fun and intriguing for years while teaching your kids scientific principles. There are many old favourites which are easy to make, such as spinning tops, the oscillating woodpeckers, Jacob’s ladder, bird-feeders and kaleidoscopes. You’re only really limited by your own skills and science knowledge.
Some Great Free Science Toy Resources:
Puppets are only limited by your imagination, since they’re quite simple to make. Plus, with every new puppet character you make, the child’s collection becomes even more useful.
Some Great Free Resources For Puppets:
- Knitting Pattern Central’s Free Toy Patterns (See Roxy Puppet Shown in Picture)
- Learning and Lore – Puppet Resources
- Teacher Help – Puppets
Need More to Read?
If you’re keen on crafts or projects to entertain kids, here’s some more MakeUseOf articles you might like:
- 10 Environmental Games That Teach Kids About Earth, Ecology & Conservation
- KindergartenWorksheets: Free Print Out Worksheets For Kids
- 3 Great Free Games For Kids New To Gaming
- 5 Websites To Keep Kids Busy & Happy
- How to Get a Classroom of Kids Blogging in Under 5 Minutes!
- 5 Free Online Encyclopedias Suitable For Kids
- 10 Interactive Games To Teach Your Kids Alphabets & Numbers
- 4 Great Papercraft Websites To Waste Time
- Top 3 Ways for Kids To Make Money Online
- 3 Cool Science Experiments You Can Do At Home
- Origami-Club: Free & Easy Origami Diagrams Online
Let us know what kids toys you like to make, and what online information is useful to you for doing this.