DIY Toddler Toys: 8 Great Ideas

Image via Alison Lee

My toddler's current favorite toy is not the new activity table, or the mini ball pit. It's not the turtle shape sorter, or the toy cell phone. It is an empty tissue box and a bag of plastic clips. He loves putting the clips into the box, then shaking it, and emptying the clips out. Rinse, repeat. I love that it keeps him occupied for a while on his own, and that it is an activity which we can expand on later, by using the clips to teach counting and colors. It also cost us practically nothing, and is an easy, no-fuss activity to put together. 

Playing is such an important part of a toddler's development, as it is how they learn. Using do-it-yourself toys, they learn fine motor skills, words, colors, counting, and independence. 

I asked 8 moms to share their toddler's favorite DIY toys, using everyday objects, and affordable craft materials. Not only were the toys fun, everyone enjoyed making them! 


We turned a cardboard paper towel roll into a pirate spy glass. We used a sponge to paint it and then decorated it with sparkly gem stickers. I punched a hole at the end and threaded some ribbon through it to make a holder for it. My son wanted to play with it right away.

~ Julia Hunter, blogger at Wine in Mom


We took an empty hand wipes container and turned it into a drum. My daughter colored on construction paper, which we taped around the outside. Then we used foam letters to spell out “Boom, Boom Boom!” She was in a serious sticker phase, so I let her go to town. Put puzzle pieces inside so it could double as a shaker. More than two years later, she still plays with it.

~ Elizabeth Flora Ross, blogger at The Writer Revived 




There is something about colors spinning and whirling that catches children's attention. A simple toy you can make that features the spinning of colors is a spool jar. You simply gather a bunch of brightly colored spools of various sizes and place them in a plastic jar.( If you are worried about the spools coming out of the jar while your child is playing with them, you can glue the lid shut.) The spools of thread spin and roll inside a plastic jar creating moving rainbow of color as your child plays with it. A bonus is that they also make a fun noise as they are rolled around, or are shaken up and down. 

~ Deirdre Smith, blogger at JDaniel4's Mom


This button sorting activity was great for my toddler, as I used it to teach him sizes and colors, and as he got older we found other ways to sort them, such as by shape. I used different sized cupcake liners for sorting sizes, and colored the inside for sorting colors. I got a bag of buttons cheap at a craft store, but you could use other objects.

~ Megan, blogger at Sunshine Wonderland


I took an empty wipe box, cut squares of fabric and stuffed them in the box for my then 8 month old to pull out. Now she's two, and counts or tells me the colors when she puts them in for her baby sister to pull out! Before I was juggling two and my family childcare, I even made holiday fabric squares so we could talk about the pictures, colors, and so on. 

~ Erin Morse



For a button snake all you need is ribbon, felt, a button, and string!  Little ones thread the felt shapes through the button and onto the ribbon. This is a great tactile learning toy which is wonderful for honing fine motor skills and learning colors, shapes, or patterns. Fun all around and, the best part, it makes for silent play!


~ Susie Conrad, blogger at I Said Be Nice!


I made my son a tambourine. You just need to staple two paper plates together about half way around, so they form a pocket. Put dried beans inside, and staple the rest of the way around. If you'd like, you can insert a couple of streamers and staple those between the plates, or decorate the front with a face or other designs. My son loves to march, and generally loves anything that makes noise. This noise isn't so eardrum-piercing, though. He can “lead the parade” or form a band with his homemade tambourine!

~ Greta Funk, blogger at GFunkified


Learning about emotions can be tricky but using a familiar face like a sibling as a model makes it easier. This DIY board book uses pictures of a family member showing various emotions to entertain and teach your toddler. First, take some pictures of family members, then print out. You will need an old board book, contact paper, card stock , scissors, a marker and double stick tape. Next write out the emotions with marker on the card stock, then cut. Tape pieces of card stock on each page to cover the existing illustrations. Add the photo and emotion. Cover with contact paper and do it for the whole book. Lastly, make a cover!

~ Allison McDonald, blogger at No Time for Flash Cards

What is your toddler's favorite DIY toy?

Read More

What do you think?

DIY Toddler Toys: 8 Great Ideas

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, she traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison is a former blogger (Writing, Wishing), and her writing has been featured on Mamalode,On Parenting at The Washington Post,The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, Club Mid, She is one of 35 essayists ... More

Tell us what you think!


  1. je55ica2boys says:

    My son loves to play with cook ware! He breaks some lol but I go to the dollar store an stock up an he loves it! Most of his toys he doesn’t even bother with…

  2. LIZ says:

    i cant wait until the time that i can do all this things with my little one

  3. Lindsay says:

    My daughter would love to pull fabric squares out of a wipe box.

  4. Andrea says:

    Great ideas! I love the snake ribbon craft. It’s a perfect portable toy!

  5. Benats Mom says:

    These are great ideas! I’ve noticed my son like to play with an empty water bottle. I think I will try the tissue box and wipes ideas.

  6. jdaniel4smom says:

    My son loves exploring and playing with things from our recycling bin. Thank you for giving me some new ideas and ways to use them.

  7. Angie says:

    This is full of great ideas! I especially like the tambourine!

× Week-by-Week Newsletter

Receive weekly updates on your pregnancy or new baby’s development as well as Free Stuff, Special Offers, Product Samples, Coupons, Checklists and Tools you can use today, and more from EverydayFamily! Plus all new members are entered to win FREE diapers for a year! Receive weekly updates on your pregnancy or new baby’s development as well as Free Stuff, Special Offers, Product Samples, Coupons, Checklists and Tools you can use today, and more from EverydayFamily! Plus all new members are entered to win FREE diapers for a year!

Due Date or Baby's Birth Date

By clicking the "Join Now" button you are agreeing to the terms of use and privacy policy.

Send this to a friend