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.
What were your favourite toys when you were a child?
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.
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…We removed the old details, cut out a hole for the sink and the tap, painted the whole thing and fitted different handles.We glued on an unwanted chopping board, too.It has been in constant use ever since. Do you know a budding chef?
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.The 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. 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?