5 Fun & Functional Ways to Repurpose Kid’s Toys

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It happens before you know it. Yourkidsgrow up, and one day you realize those beloved miniature plastic soldiers that once fought so many battles on the living room floor are now sitting in a box in the closet, forgotten and gathering dust. But that doesn’t mean your only option is to donate the old toys to charity, or throw them away. You can actually repurpose many toys into something whimsical and new.

Turn a “little red wagon” into a Planter

Turn an old red wagon, a kiddy coupe or an outgrown bicycle or tricycle with a basket into a fun planter for the garden. Imagine how cute a kiddy car would be spilling over with trailing petunias, or the convenience of a wagon planted with an assortment of lettuce. Your child’s former mode of transportation is still useful for moving flowers right where you want them.

  • To convert a wagon or kiddy coupe, you will need to drill holes through the bottom for drainage.
  • Make several evenly spaced holes with a large drill bit.
  • You can then fill the wagon or coupe with potting soil, and plant flowers or veggies to your liking.
  • If you want to use a tricycle or bicycle with a basket, first line the basket with a thin coco liner, easily found at any home improvement or garden center.
  • Then add soil and plant your flowers. Trailing varieties like geraniums, lantana, calibrachoa or verbena will look best spilling over the sides of the basket.

Fill a Lamp with Small Toys

You likely have boxes full of small, plastic toys that were once well loved. Plastic soldiers, animals, cars or tiny dolls tend to accumulate throughout the childhood years. You could toss them out, or you could use the tiny figures to create a wonderfully interesting lamp.

  • At largecraft stores, or online through Amazon.com or other retailers, you can find a selection of glass, fillable lamps.
  • Simply unscrew the top, and fill the base with an assortment of small plastic toys.
  • You can mix them up, or keep to a single type.
  • A lamp filled with favorite Hot Wheels, My Little Pony figures or any other much-loved small figurines would be a sentimental gift to a child moving out to a new apartment or dorm.

Repurpose Old Wooden Alphabet Blocks

No doubt your child had a set of wooden alphabet blocks at some time during her babyhood. If those days are long behind her, you can repurpose the blocks in a number of creative ways. For most, you’ll need screws and a drill with a bit the same size.

  • Replace the knobs on an elementary-age child’s desk with wooden blocks. With a can of colorful paint, you can easily make over an old ugly desk, and give your child a spot to do homework. Once the desk is painted, drill holes into the blocks, and then use them to replace the original drawer pulls.
  • Choose blocks that spell out your child’s name, and drill a hole in each block. Paint a piece of scrap lumber a bright color, then drill a hole for each block into the board. Use screws to fasten the blocks to the board, and hang it on your child’s door.
  • Make a key holder by following the process above, then screwing a small hook into the bottom of each block. Choose blocks that spell out your family name, a motivational word, the word “KEYS” or whatever else is meaningful to you. Hang the key holder near the door.

A New Use for Slinky

Most kids have a metal slinky at some point, likely tangled in a drawer. Newer Slinkys are often plastic, but the metal ones are easier to work with for crafting purposes.

  • Use a Slinky as a note holder. Simply set it on your desk in its characteristic arc shape, and slip notes and reminders in between the loops.
  • Slip the ends of the Slinky over each other to create a circle. Then use it as an interesting penholder, loop it around a thick pillar candle, or encircle a bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling on your service porch.

Repurpose Plastic Animals

There’s a lot you can do with a collection of small plastic animals. All it takes is a few simple items and a little imagination.

  • Spray paint animals metallic, bright or white. Paint a Mason jar lid to match, then hot glue the animal to the lid. It’s a fun way to hold cotton balls,Q-tipsor other necessities in the kid’s bathroom.
  • Glue small magnets to a selection of animals, and use them to hold artwork on the fridge.
  • Drill holes into larger plastic animals, and use them to replace drawer pulls on a child’s dresser.
  • Paint a few plastic animals with long tails, necks or trunks with glitter paint. Glue the animal to a flat, round or square piece of painted wood, and use as a ring holder.

Babyhood and early childhood come to an end all too soon. Toys that were loved are left behind, but that doesn’t mean they can’t find new life and a new purpose. Use a little imagination, and you will come up with many more ways to reuse those old toys.

Last Updated: February 22, 2013
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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