Six Fun Toys You Can Make at Home

Bring the fun of handmade toys to new heights with these simple instructions for recycled, educational toys for toddlers.

| Dec. 17, 2008

Even More Tracking Toys

Here are some other tracking tools using animal cut outs. You can also choose to laminate these toys so they last longer.


Many of us have witnessed the magical moment when a 1-year-old gets that very first “big” toy — and promptly throws it aside to play with the box it came in.

Parents, relatives and friends can spend a good deal of money on flashy and high-tech toys, but the truth is, that’s pretty unnecessary. Kids are fairly easily entertained, and many fun — and educational — toys can be made at home with recycled materials.

Babies learn more during the first three years of their life than at any other time. At specific times in a child’s development, the brain focuses on developing certain behaviors — such as motor and language skills. Neurologists refer to these times as “windows of opportunity.” With proper stimulation during these windows, babies can learn different behaviors quicker and more efficiently, which will help them succeed throughout their lives.

Because children like to play and explore, toys are a perfect way to stimulate the brain at specific times of development. And these toys don’t have to come from toy tycoons or department stores — you can make them right at home.

The toys listed below were created by Topeka Public Schools Parents As Teachers (PAT) program as part of an interactive and developmental learning program. PAT started in the 1970s as a way to integrate parents and family into early childhood education as a way to improve entrance-level abilities among kindergarteners. PAT works with parents and children from the time the baby is in the womb to when the child is 5 years old; specific programs vary among school districts.

Each toy is specific to a particular age and has scientific rationale behind the various activities it encourages. Most of these toys involve interaction between the parent and the child, to develop the critical relationship between children and their parents.

12/6/2012 4:01:07 PM

Love these ideas! I think the other comments are ridiculous. theaspins, do you really think the writer was suggesting a parent use a tracking toy instead of talking to her, holding her, and taking her out into the world? Give me a break. And Bailey_1, you have little imagination if you can't find objects around your perfectly eco-friendly house that would substitute for a Pringles can. I've made some of these toys for my daughter, and she loves them. So much better than plastic from Babies R Us.

scott van dyke
12/20/2008 10:30:41 AM

What a terrific article. Especially in these poor economic times it is good to have ideas that are not only inexpensive but eco-friendly and utile. Keep up the good work.

12/17/2008 11:47:06 PM

I completely agree with the other posters! Very disappointing article. I can't even articulate my my feelings about it. A TRACKING toy for an INFANT!?! please. I don't even know what to say. Let them track their parents walking across the room. The ideas were not creative, original or appropriate for kids. I was really excited to see the article, I love making toys, but this was beyond disappointing.

12/17/2008 2:04:01 PM

I'm also disappointed in this article, both for the reason stated by the above poster, and because all these activities and so-called "educational" toys are unnecessary for healthy child development. Babies need to be held and talked to, not have "tracking toys" waved in front of their faces. Toddlers don't learn language through lessons, they learn it through normal interactions with other people. I can't imagine wasting my time and my children's with such junk when we could be singing, walking in the woods, reading together, etc.

12/17/2008 11:40:55 AM

I was surprised and disappointed to see an article in Mother Earth News that has you making children's toys out of empty Pringles cans and Hefty brand animal face shaped paper plates. My family doesn't typically use products of that nature, and honestly, I don't think we're probably that eco-friendly and off the grid compared to most Mother Earth News readers. I really was excited to see this article title, but sadly disappointed with the rest of the article.

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