play dough

play dough

The holidays might seem far away now, but they’ll be here (and then gone again) before you know it…so Pin this now for some super cute and easy toys you can make later for all the good boys and girls on your list.

1. Fishing Game

You will need:
heavy card stock
paper clips
a dowel rod (or other stick)
yarn or twine
a magnet 
fish bowl or other container 

Draw or print out colorful fish shapes on heavy card stock making two copies of each fish. Cut out the fish, then tape or glue the two identical fish together with the colored sides out and a paperclip in the middle. Attach the magnet to one end of the yarn and the dowel rod or stick to the other end and put the fish in the bowl—then go fishing!

You could personalize this game in lots of ways. Letter and number shapes (or fish with letters and numbers on them) are great for young kids. You could also cut out pictures from old books or magazines and glue them to heavier card stock, or make your fish out of felt or other material—as long as the magnet is strong enough to pick up the paper clip inside.

2. Recycled Crayons

You will need:
old crayon pieces (or dollar store crayons)
oven-proof mold

Give some of those broken, odds and ends crayons new life. Break crayons into pieces an inch long or less and put into the molds. You can use an old muffin tin or mini muffin tin, but oven-proof candy making molds make cute shapes, and silicone ice cube trays (like those sold at Ikea) are great as well. Just be sure it’s OK up to 150 degrees!

Put the mold in the oven at 150 degrees F for about 25 minutes or until the wax has melted. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before removing. (You can speed the process by popping them in the freezer for about half an hour.)  Your recycled crayons will make fun rainbow colors when kids draw. These make great party favors or stocking stuffers.

3. Homemade Play Dough

You will need:
2 cups flour
3/4 cup salt
3/4 to 1 cup of colored water
1 Tablespoon oil

Mix all the ingredients together and then knead until smooth. You can also mix this in your food processor if it has a dough setting. Store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. Totally non-toxic and safe for kiddos who might have a tendancy to taste it… You can also try this recipe for a different version.

4. Magnetic Paper Dolls

You will need:
an old cookie sheet (smaller is better)
printable magnetic sheets or old magnets
scrap fabric, scrapbook paper, magazines, etc.

Use the Google to find some paper doll shapes (like these) and print them out on the magnetic sheets. Color the dolls, leave them blank for the kids to color, or use scrap fabric and paper to create the clothes and accessories (also printed or pasted on magnetic sheets). Cut out all the dolls and clothes and use the cookie sheet (or the refrigerator door) as the play surface. Extra points if you paint a little scene on the cookie sheet. This is a great car trip activity, as all the pieces stay stuck together.

Bonus idea: You can also paint the cookie sheet like a game board (like checkers or scrabble) and print magnetic pieces for another great car trip toy.

5. Personalized Coloring Book

You will need:
family photos
photo editing software
printer and paper

How excited would your kids be to see their own face in a coloring book?  Turns out, it’s pretty easy to turn family photos into coloring book pages with a little Photoshop magic. This tutorial will walk you through the whole process step-by-step. And don’t worry if you don’t have Photoshop—the tutorial explains how to use the free photo software Pixlr.  

Print out your finished pages and have them bound at the copy store for an extra-special gift. This might also be the gift that keeps on giving: make the book and give it to your child, then, when all the photos are colored, give the book to a grandparent or other relative who will appreciate it.

You can follow Lacy on Twitter @LacyLu42, on Facebook, and Pinterest.

Image by: eyeliam