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Our 4 best upcycled toys

My dad made lots of toys and I treasure them. I wish he was here to see his grandsons wheeling around the handmade stroller laden with trains and planes or putting the animals he carved into the train carriage and wheeling them off to a faraway land.

Kids interact differently with something made by hand. Sometimes the handmade doesn’t have the wow factor of the latest plastic figurine, but sometimes they do, but always, always the handmade toy is there quietly whispering, ‘I was made with love.’

I don’t have the carpentry skills of my dad, so I find upcycling the easier option.

4 easy homemade toys |Blah Blah MagazineIn honour of our big boy’s fifth birthday (how did that happen???), I have listed our best upcycled toys so far, but I’d love to hear your ideas too in the comments at the end.

What were your favourite toys when you were a child?

4 easy homemade toys |Blah Blah Magazine

1. The Toad Stool

I planned for the toad stool to be in the garden, but our little man likes to have it inside. It’s next to his bed most of the time, unless it’s needed as a stage, seat or mountain. It’s made of an old wooden bowl, upside down, on a firewood log. It’s easier than it looks and the instructions are in this toad stool post.

4 easy homemade toys |Blah Blah Magazine

2. The oven and the kitchen

This is one of the easiest. If you spot a white bedside cabinet on the side of the road or at the thrift shop, all you need to do is paint it and add a knob or two. That’s what I did in this previous upcycled oven post.

After a lot of use and love, we gave that oven to another budding chef, but it was sorely missed in our house. So, when I spotted this bigger cabinet on the side of the road, I couldn’t resist…4 easy homemade toys |Blah Blah MagazineWe removed the old details, cut out a hole for the sink and the tap, painted the whole thing and fitted different handles.4 easy homemade toys |Blah Blah MagazineWe glued on an unwanted chopping board, too.4 easy homemade toys |Blah Blah MagazineIt has been in constant use ever since. Do you know a budding chef?

4 easy homemade toys |Blah Blah Magazine

3. The play mat

This had a big wow factor from the moment it was opened for a certain someone’s recent birthday.

We had an old blind, the mechanism broke and couldn’t be replaced. I was going to get out the ruler and pencil and start to mark up a road map, with masking tape to paint it. But, when our friend, Sam, came to stay, he’s an illustrator and he could do a lot free hand.

We used some of the low VOC and low tox acrylic house paints we had leftover.4 easy homemade toys |Blah Blah MagazineThe boys love this so much and I love that I can roll it away. Win-win. It’d be fun to do a really simple version of this, too.

4 easy homemade toys |Blah Blah Magazine

4. The row boat paddling pool

We painted an old boat someone was throwing out and put sand bags underneath to minimise the rocking. We also put a hole with a plug, but to be honest, a little bung hole with a cork would be better or nothing and siphon the water out with a hose.

What were your favourite toys as a child? Have you upcycled any toys?

About BlahBlahMagazine

Cybele Masterman (Bele) trained as a beauty therapist, aromatherapist and journalist. After working as all of the above has found herself on a quest for a beautiful and meaningful life that doesn't cost the earth. Follow on google: +blahblahmagazine twitter: @blahblahzine or Instagram: BlahBlahMagazine

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  1. This is genius! You so clever! That kitchen is my favourite! It was so long ago when I was young, I can hardly remember my favourite toys but I think my Sindy dolls were my best. My mum used to make all their clothes and dare I say, they were the best dressed Sindy dolls in the Northern Hemisphere!

  2. Oh Bele you clever woman! These are just divine ideas. Do you m ind if I share them in the weekend Rewind tomorrow night? xx

  3. OH wow, great ideas!! I love upcycling myself (isn’t it just the coolest word!:) Though I tend to more go for upcycling clothes though we did make a major ‘cafe’ once like your kitchen

  4. Oh yeah, totes easy as, eh… Holy hell, lady, you are amazing! I could never do any of those. I would probably even stuff up the mushroom – although I’m tempted to try that one.

    My lovely grandfather handmade a table and chairs for my brother and me, which my kids now have. It’s my favourite piece of furniture. xx

  5. OMG I want every one! That old row boat is insanely cute. And the kitchen! Now I just need to go and find an old boat and an old cupboard on the side of the road. Sounds easy enough 😉 You’re brilliant!

  6. Oh my goodness! I love these ideas and know my kids would too. That kitchen is pure genius! x

  7. These are all fantastic! That kitchen is all over the IKEA one my tornadoes play with. What I love it that kids have no idea of the value of toys. If they like something, they’ll play with it. Simple as that. I loved all the toys my grandparents made for my Cabbage Patch Kids when I was little. From handmade dolls clothes to a dolls bed and wardrobe, they were made with love and importantly – they were original! No other Cabbage Patch on the street was wearing the fashions mine were 🙂

  8. I don’t remember having any home made toys when I was a kid. My father was an artist though and used to paint things on the walls which I loved. Those mats are brilliant. I had something similar when my boys were little. I agree wholeheartedly, there’s something magical about home made toys. I would have killed for that kitchen when I was a little girl!

  9. My dad always had things he’d hoarded in the shed, that he’d pull out and make cubby houses with etc, he still does it for the grandkids, old kettles, maps turned into school boards etc.
    Must be that older generation, making stuff from nothing.

    I adore that old boat, must keep a look out for one up here, totally gorgeous, you clever thing. x

  10. Love these ideas, you clever woman :). Love the boat an the play kitchen… Think your Da would be proud! Rachael

  11. Wow, these are amazing! I would never think to make these toys, or even know how. The toadstool is super cute, my son would love it.

  12. What a great post! I am so keen to try the toadstool stool. My little one has just gotten to the age where we want to get her a little table and chairs so this would be perfect. Thanks

  13. I love the Toad Stool. These would provide the perfect seating for a fairy party!

  14. These are super fantastic ideas!!! I love the play mat idea. I am sending this to my sister.

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