Don't Throw That AwaySusan Taylor Brown
1. Build a log cabin. Use the cardboard tube rolls from paper towels, toilet paper, and foil tubes for your logs. You can glue them to each other. Or you can glue them to the outside of a box. Then take small pieces of newspaper. When you wad them up, they make great stones. You can make a chimmney. When the cabin is complete, paint it.
2. Make a ring toss game. Cut circles from plastic coffee can lids. Toss them over two liter bottles. (Coffee can lids make good frisbees, too.)
3. Build a garage for your toy cars or planes. You can use milk cartons, shoe boxes or even jewelry boxes. Glue them all together or stack them inside a bigger box.
4. Play indoor miniature golf. Collect old pieces of aluminum foil. Make sure you wash it so it won’t be sticky. Roll it into balls. Hit into old juice cans with wooden spoons or cardboard tubes.
5. Make a cradle or bed for a doll or a stuffed toy. Oatmeal boxes cut in half will rock like a cradle. Any box can be a bed for a stuffed toy. You can paint it. You can color it. You can even decorate it with scraps of paper or fabric.
6. Save plastic two liter bottles. Add one tennis ball and you can make an indoor bowling alley. For fun you could decorate the bottles to look like silly people. And maybe draw a face on the tennis ball.
7. You can make your own checker game. All you need is bottle caps and construction paper. Make strips of squares on the paper. Paint the bottle caps two differnt colors. Be different. They don’t have to be black and red. Try something exciting like hot pink and neon green.
8. Play grocery store. Save empty cereal boxes, soap bottles, coffee cans and juice containers. You can use buttons or bottle caps for money. An egg carton is good for a cash box. Ask you mother for some old coupons and some paper bags. Then the “store” is open for business.
9. Make your own puzzles. This can be done two ways. Paste a picture from a magazine to a piece of thin cardboard or color your own picture. Then cut into puzzle pieces. Do this with a friend and see if you can do each other’s puzzles.
10. String spools of thread and empty adding machine rolls to make worms and snakes.
11. Make a puppet stage. A large cardboard box is all you really need for a stage. For puppets you can decorate old socks and paper bags. Or try decorating paper cups. Then hold them up to the stage with the long rolls from paper towels.
12. Go fish. Make a pole with a long tube (the kind wrapping paper comes on) by running a piece of string along the side and down about six inches. Cut a hook out of cardboard and attach it to the string. Use the plastic holders from soda six-packs for fish.
13. Make your own paper dolls from old catalogs.
14. Make your own kitchen. Plastic butter dishes, oatmeal boxes and juice cans can be your pots and pans. Trace the “real silverware” onto cardboard and cut them out.
15. Make your own “shape sorter” toy using a large coffee can or oatmeal box. Spools, jewelry boxes or cookie cutters can then be “sorted.”
Any time you see someone throwing something away, stop and think. Use your imagination and try to see what you could reuse it for. Then say, “Stop, don’t throw that away!”
This article and other various versions of it have been previously published in: Carolina Parent, Parent & Child, Home Education Magazine and Mothering With Imagination.
Please contact me for permission to reproduce this or any of my other articles.