11 DIY Toys for toddlers (work on fine motor skills)

One of the biggest shocks I had as a new mother was the limited type of toys available to engage my toddlers in creative play.

After I went on a mission to redesign the playroom to make it a creative environment, I had a hard time finding toys to purchase that would foster creativity.  Open-ended toys are hard to find so I have opted to create a lot of my own toys using recycled material.  Manny is one at the time, exactly 17 months.

If my son would no longer engage with them, I would have no problem and no guilt to get rid of them. To my surprise, these creative recycled toys have had more used that some Christmas gifts my son received. 

Play doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t need all the latest equipment and well-marketed toys! All you need is a little creativity and some time. 

Toddlers love to explore with cause and effect, peek-a-book games and are it buys only that love balls?! I took his love of balls and took on his lead to create some diy toys toddlers.

11 DIY toys for toddlers using recycled material

DIY toddler toys can be easy to make, provide a lot of fun and are even great for learning skills they will soon need. Try these 11 toys at home this week and get ready to have some fun.

A Tissue paper box Saved me $25!

Have you heard of the Montessori toys? They wood and beautifully looking. They are also expensive! But today while walking down the supermaket isles, I came up with an awesome idea!

Grab a tissue box and remove all the tissue paper (save in a bag for later when you get a runny nose). Cut out a hole on the side big enough for the ball to fit in. Add a piece of cardboard and taped it in a slope so the ball falls down and out of the hole. I used a piece of tape (nothing fancy!) and there you have it! Easiest toy ever

Cardboard box and textured material makes a great sensory board 

While I was working on the ebook Fun Under 1 for babies, I created a sensory board. Similar to one I had done for him when he was small. While we were taking the photos, he quickly joined in to play with the baby. He wanted to explore using his feet.

An empty box of puffs and a block – Practice eye-hand coordination 

This activity was made for him when he was a baby, and to this day, he still enjoys placing the block inside the container and finding it at the bottom.

DIY toddler game using a puffs box to work on eye-hand coordination. Click to get more ideas of toys you can create

Peek-a-boo game with a Milk Carton 

I am on a mission to work on his pincer-grasp skill to help him develop the muscles and coordination that one day he will need when learning how to grab a pencil. This small hole at the top only gives a little space to the pom-poms to fit in. He has to work on his concentration and perfect his fine motor skills.

Feed the monster with a box of Gerber Cheetos 

I no longer buy these because he was outgrown these snacks for others like goldfish and crackers, but I saved the container as one day I could use it.

I love to make a little monster with a big mouth that we could feed different things. The eyes are placed with sticky velcro so he can play with them as well.

I have used colored popsicle sticks and dried colored pasta to practice colors, pom-poms and even real food when he didn’t feel like eating. (Hey! don’t judge! it worked. He saw the monster eating so he ate too)

A yogurt container and a small hole on the lid

Dropping little pom-poms has been a favorite, so we made a small hole using a recycled yogurt tub.

This simple activity helps to work on the muscles that will work on holding a pencil after.

What’s even more fun is one of the mom’s from the yPunto! Mom Tribe local group on Facebook made two holes. One big.One small. Her son is 23 months (a little older than Manny) so she worked the concept of BIG and SMALL. She talked about the pom-poms first and then one by one started dropping them. Genius!

Drop and search Activity

All you need is a cardboard box with 3 holes and a ball.

This is our favorite game, we love playing with it and I am surprised it is still holding up! See how to play ball drop game here

Create a maze with a cardboard box

This one is definitely for the older toddlers. My one-year-old still doesn’t understand the concept of having to move the box to guide the ball to drop in the hole. For now, we’ll hold on to it as I know it is a great easy game.

A path made with recycled Amazon bubble wrap envelopes 

I opened a few puffy envelopes that had bubble wrap inside and taped them onto the floor. We made took off our shoes and made our way back and forth on the path. Talk about sensory exploration with your feet!

A musical Tower

This is a variation from one of the baby activities from the ebook Fun Under 1. We create music instruments using recycled containers and rice or pasta. We then stacked them up as high as we could. When they fell… MUSIC! He loved it, he laughed and we can’t wait to do it again and again.

A Parmesan container and dried pasta 

Pincer grasp took to the next level! what a challenge this was for him and you could see he was practicing his concentration to make sure he could place each tiny dried pasta into the parmesan cheese container holes.

There is so much you can do with colored dried pasta!

Box with Q-tips and pencil holes.

We have been playing for a while with this toy. I have to change the Q-tips often because we use it a lot, but it is a great activity to work on concentration and pre-writing skills – working with the hand muscles that will later teach him how to hold a pencil.

See, there are tons of DIY toys you can do at home. Follow your toddler lead and create toys around that. Just earlier this month, I noticed he really like “The Wheels on the Bus” song, so we made a bus 🙂

Have you done any DIY toys for a toddler?