Cool New Ways to Use Old Toys


If you find yourself cleaning out the toy box for what seems like the thousandth time, wondering what you’ll do with the bits and pieces littering the bottom—stop short of making a desperate grab for that garbage bag. Instead of tossing well-used playthings, consider dusting them off and using in a totally different way. Plastic animals = awesome new wall hooks. Random puzzle pieces = super cool fridge magnets. Scroll down for more ideas on how to give old toys new homes.

photo: Jasmine Orchard Styling

1. Firetruck Lamp
Use your old trucks and cars to convert into an awesome lamp. Hop on over to Jasmine Orchard Styling to take a peek at her props and for more ideas.

 

 

animalhoooks_tsukifox_littlegrayfox_springcleaning_national_redtricyclephoto: Tsuki Fox via Little Gray Fox

2. Magnetic Animal Hooks
The dollar animals your kid had to have just got interesting (at least, for you!). Crafter Tsuki Fox came up with several ways to use those little creatures—we especially dig the magnetic jewelry hooks! Head over to Little Gray Fox for the how-to on a super unique way to display your baubles.

 

 

playmobilclock_jennykearny_oldtoysnewideas_springcleaning_national_redtricyclephoto: Jenny Kearney via The Gingerbread House

3. Playmobil Clock
What time is it? Time to use Playmobil people to make a kitschy clock. These little guys are awesome for imaginary play and, it would seem, a totally cool addition to counting the minutes go by. It’s an easy project—we promise! Find out how it’s done by heading over to The Gingerbread House.

 

 

dinobookends_natalieshaw_oldtoysnewideas_springcleaning_national_redtricyclephoto: Natalie Shaw via Doodlecraft

4. Dinosaurs as Bookends
A dino-tastic way to keep books in order. Your budding paleontologist will get a kick out of seeing his favorite prehistoric pal propping up his go-to nighttime stories. We love the bright colors and easy (hot glue gun alert!) DIY for this project. Pop on over to Doodlecraft for the entire tutorial.

 

 

 

tricycleasflowerpot_oldtoysnewuses_springcleaning_national_redtricyclephoto: Shelly Kannon via A Southern Belle with Northern Roots

 

 

5. Tricycle as Garden Decor
This could be our favorite idea of the bunch! Old tricycles are an easy upcycle for your garden. It’s a perfect perch for a flower pot filled with spring blooms. Opt to paint or leave rusty—either way, the kids will get a kick out seeing their old gear serving a new purpose. Head over to A Southern Belle with Northern Roots for more on this simple-but-awesome idea.

 

 

legocharger_stevengoodwin_oldtoysnewideas_springcleaning_national_redtricyclephoto: Steve Goodwin via Marquis de Geek

6. LEGO Charging Station
We’ve already determined LEGOs are awesome, but let’s be honest—the little pieces that find your bare feet in the middle of the night are not cool. In fact, parents might often find themselves secretly plotting a clean sweep of the entire building supply. If you’ve got a surplus of colored bricks, or your kids have outgrown their stash, then this totally rad device charger is gonna be right up your alley. Builder, blogger and dad Steve offers up an easy-to-follow tutorial over at Marquis de Geek.

 

 

 

gameboardshelves_vanessaalverado_oldtoysnewsuses_springcleaning_national_redtricyclephoto: Vanessa Alvarado via Thrift Core

7. Board Games for Shelves
The Candyland game has lost all its gingerbread men. The shiny car and boot are missing from the Monopoly set. No one wants to play the game of LIFE. Whatever the problem, Thrift Core has the solution. Make your own shelves out of game boards no longer getting any play. With simple tools and a few brackets, bump up your house’s cool factor in no time. Head over to Thrift Core for a full list of materials and the easy tutorial.

 

 

 

puzzlepiecemagnets_lizstanley_oldthingsnewideas_springcleaning_national_redtricyclephoto: Liz Stanley via Momtastic

8. Puzzle Piece Magnets
Puzzles are a great way to pass the day but make no mistake, they are a recipe for mess-making. How many sets do you have at home missing an animal, car, plane or train? By creating magnets, you’ll open up a whole new world of play. This is upcycling at its finest! To get the details on the games and the how-to, head over to Momstastic.

 

 

 

photo: Sewing with Knits via eHow.com

9. A Treasured Stuffed Animal Made of Outgrown Clothes
Since most infants double their body weight within the first five months, it’s likely that your little bundle never got a chance to wear half their adorable ensembles. Don’t fret! The clever seamstress over at Sewing With Knits created this sweet stuffed animal using outgrown infant clothing. Cute and cuddly, it’s an adorable way to repurpose your little one’s unworn attire. For an added touch of nostalgia, use your favorite outgrown outfit. You’ll likely have enough fabric to remove the milk-stained portions.

 

photo: The Homes I Have Made


10. Bubble Wand Airplane
By adding propellers, wings and a tail, The Homes I Have Made transformed a Dollar Store bubble wand into an awesome party favor. Pop over to the blog for the tutorial.

photo: mcleod via flickr

11. Toy Wreath
What to do with all of those old toys and figurines? Make a fun toy wreath! You can use either a wire wreath from your local craft store or an old hula hoop. Affix the figurines and old toys with wire and hot glue.

photo: quinnanya via flickr

12. Succulent Guardians
Provide some protection for your plants by positioning a few old toy soldiers around the house. We love the idea of making this a scavenger hunt—how many can your kiddos find?

photo: Indigoamethyst.com

13. Lamps in Toyland
Light up their life with an enchanting toy lamp. Head on over to Indigamethyst for the scoop.

photo: davidwithacamera via flickr

14. Toothbrush Holder
Make their nightly brushing routine even more fun with a cool toothbrush holder.

 

Have you used an old toy for a new purpose? Tell us about it in a Comment.

— Gabby Cullen, Lauren Hill and Erin Lem

 

 

RELATED STORIES:

Cool Projects That Give Your Trash a Second Wind

5 Ways to Upcycle Your Scrap Paper

10 Clever Ways to Upcycle Your Old Baby Gear



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Fun Children Mask Ideas


You’ve got a wide-open afternoon on the horizon. Transform your crew into a masked menagerie with just a few basic supplies. From fluffy flamingos to woodland creatures, scroll down to find 10 easy ways to let your littles take a walk on the wild side.

photo: Wee Society

1. Masked Menagerie
The classic paper bag mask has gotten a modern makeover with these adorable (and free!) printables from Wee Society. New in 2016, the dinosaur and the unicorn a masked menagerie that includes a gorilla, a fox, a koala, and owl and a lion. Besides that paper bag, you’ll need construction paper and glue. Click here to get the printable kit from Wee Society.

photo: Leslie M. via Pink Stripey Socks

2. Lion Around
We’d be “lion” if we didn’t give major props to this sweet mask from Pink Stripey Socks. Wondering what it’ll take to get your kids to the Serengeti for an afternoon adventure? We can tell you that paper plates play a big role in this project. Find out what else you’ll need over at Pink Stripey Socks.

EDD_FoamMaskCraftphoto: courtesy Everyday Dishes

3. Fabulous Frogs and Flamingos
Turn your little one into a feathery flamingo or a fabulous frog with a few supplies from your local art supply store. We love how the creative folks over at Everyday Dishes use old sunglasses as a starting point. Find out what else you need to make your own version by clicking here.

woodlandanimals_nataliekramer_animalmasksphoto: Natalie Kramer via Handmade Charlotte

4. Woodland Wonders
These upcycled woodland creatures are pretty cool. Not only does this project get your littles thinking about the Great Outdoors but it’s something anyone can tackle in an afternoon. Grab a paper bag and find out how crafter Natalie over at Handmade Charlotte gets the mask shape just right.

octopus_prettyprudent_animalsphoto: courtesy Pretty Prudent

5. Sensational Sea Creature
It won’t take eight arms to pull together this disguise. Using your own (and maybe a few helper) hands, you can send underwater adventurers to the bottom of the sea in no time. Find out what you’ll need over at Pretty Prudent.

mousemask_merileeliddiard_mermag_animalsphoto: Merrilee Liddiard via Mer Mag

6. Magnificent Mouse
If it’s a game of cat-and-mouse you want, then this tutorial is a perfect solution. Merrliee of Mer Mag has delivered another incredible idea that’s easy to replicate. Get the simple tutorial over at Mer Mag.

butterfly-maskphoto: Gabby Cullen

7. Beautiful Butterfly
Making a butterfly mask could mean pretty-in-pink or wild insect right out of the Amazon, but either way, your kids will get a kick out of putting this one together. Get the 411 by clicking here.

bunnyrabbitmask_kersey_andweplay_animalsphoto: Kersey Campbell via Momtastic

8. Hare-Raising Fun
Some-bunny will love this mask from Momtastic. Whether your kiddo is on Easter Bunny patrol or if Peter Rabbit is the cat’s meow, this easy project will complete the package. Wondering what you’ll need to make it happen? Here’s a tip: eating breakfast cereal helps! Get the low-down over at Momtastic.

bluebirdmask_pipersmith_animalsphoto: Piper Smith via Piper’s Art Blog

9. Feathered Friend
Bring the Bluebird of Happiness home with a bright and cheerful mask like the one we spotted over at Piper’s Art Blog. Using just one paper plate, construction paper, and a little glue, you’ll be singing this project’s praises in no time. Fly on over to Piper’s Art Blog for the tutorial.

rhino-maskphoto: Erin Feher

10. A Ridiculously Easy Rhino
Make a rhino mask before playing pachyderm with the kiddos. With just a few supplies you’ll be on a stay-at-home safari in no time. Find out how it’s done here.

Which mask will your little animals make? Share with us in a Comment below!

— Gabby Cullen



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5 Globe Projects You Have to Try


World travelers aren’t the only ones who want to go global: take a cue from these clever crafters and upcycle an old globe into something that will really make you spin. From gilded beauties to an IKEA hack, the following five projects are easier to pull off than they look. Click through the gallery to get the details.

What’s your favorite globe or map project? Tell us about it in a comment below. 

—Amber Guetebier

featured photo credit: kristimurphy.com  

 

 



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8 Quick & Easy Easter Treats


Easter Sunday is on the horizon. It’s time to channel your inner Amazon Prime goddess and whip up a few incredibly easy treats that your little bunnies will love. We’ve found eight ideas that take mere minutes but will look like they took hours. If only everything else was this easy. Scroll down to get started.

photo: Agnes Hsu via Hello Wonderful

Banana Sprinkle Pops
This frozen banana pop idea screams spring. You’ll need yogurt, pastel-colored sprinkles, and a fruit squeeze. Find out how to get the coating just right by visiting Hello Wonderful.

photo: Melanie Blodgett via Minted

Brilliant Bunny Bags
What’s easier than pressing the print button? We think these adorable bunny bags from Minted are the perfect solution to a busy parent’s holiday woes. Grab the free printable by clicking here.

photo: Lindsay Conchar via Life Love and Sugar

Easter Bunny Chow
Your favorite snack mix just got an Easter makeover. Filled with Reese’s peanutty goodness in every bite, this puppy chow from Life Love and Sugar is simple to make and will be a family favorite. Hop on over to Life Love and Sugar for the recipe.

photo: Courtesy The Baker Mama

Candy Kabobs
We think these candy kabobs are too sweet. You can use a selection of your kids’ favorite gummy treats and Peeps: The whole process should take 20 minutes or less. Hint: If you’ve got wee ones, be sure to cut off the pointed end of the kabob before adding the Peep. Find out why you’ll need cooking spray and grab the rest of the how-to over at The Baker Mama.

photo: Heather Shisler via Passion for Savings

Pinterest-Worthy Pudding Cups
This sweet pudding cup is super easy, and it’ll make you look like a Pinterest pro. Grab pudding cups (the bunny face shows up better on vanilla), googly eyes, pom poms, and a couple other basic art supplies before letting your littles make their very own Easter Bunny. Get the tutorial over at Passion for Savings.

photo: courtesy Reasons to Skip the Housework

Crackers as Carrots
Got a plastic bag? How about goldfish and ribbon? We love this simple idea courtesy of Melanie at Reasons to Skip the Housework. It’s easy to make and will make you look super creative. Plus, you can easily swap the goldfish out for carrots, orange jelly bellies, or anything else you think your littles would love.

peeps-smores-for-easterphoto: Angie McGowan via Eclectic Everyday

Peeps S’mores
There’s something about making s’mores that is super fun. Eclectic Everyday lays out the directions—all you need is graham crackers, chocolate, Peeps, and a microwave. Or, if you have a gas stove, you can roast your Peeps before sliding them between the graham crackers. Just make sure your kiddos are supervised at all times around the stove!

photo: Holly Webster via Flickr

Bunny Bottom Pancakes
With a little fruit and whip cream, this is an easy way to make your annual Easter breakfast even more special. 
Taste of Home shows you how it’s done.

Do you have any last minute Easter treat ideas to add to our story?



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Fun Egg Carton Craft Ideas


We have a feeling you’ll be well-stocked in egg cartons soon. Don’t toss them in the bin—those thin cups have always been a sweet supply to save for crafty little hands. To help you get started on a mini-maker session we rounded up 13 clever ways to create with egg cartons. From dump trucks to flower crowns, the best ideas are right here. Scroll down to discover them all. 

photo: Becky Whitney via Rub Some Dirt On It

1. Heavy Loader
Even a first-time maker can tackle this simple dump truck project. The bed goes up and down with the help of a few pipe cleaners, and there’s plenty of space to add construction workers. Find out what you’ll need over at Rub Some Dirt On It.

photo: Shaunna Evans via Fantastic Fun and Learning

2. Under the Sea
Create an entire underwater world with just four supplies. You’ve got the egg cartons; Find out what else you’ll need at 
Fantastic Fun and Learning. One down, three to go!

photo: Tonya Staab via Create-Celebrate-Explore

3. Easter Checkers
Yes, this adorable checkerboard will take a few afternoons to complete, but it will be worth the effort when you see how much fun your kids have playing with it year after year. We love the bright, fresh colors and the basic supply list. Visit DIY guru Tonya Staab at
Create-Celebrate-Explore and see how to make your own.

photo: courtesy The Pinterested Parent

4. Block Party
Using egg cartons as building blocks? Pure genius. Once you’ve cut up your stash, have little helpers paint it all in bright hues. After that, the possibilities are endless. Take a peek at the great tutorial from The Pinterested Parent right here.

photo: Leslie Manlapig via Pink Stripey Socks

5. Carton Crawlers
These little guys are more cute than creepy and use up plenty of cartons. Parents, you’ll probably have to handle the task of arranging the pipe cleaner legs just right. Get the how-to over at Pink Stripey Socks.

photo: Agnes Hsu via Hello Wonderful

6. Crafty Crown
It’s definitely a project that requires help, but she’ll be the Queen of Spring if you decide to tackle this cool flower crown. You can handle the glue gun, she can design her own flowers. Find out how it’s done over at Hello Wonderful.

owl

photo: Art and Soul Preschool

7. Feathered Friend
Who-who-who’s up for transforming an egg carton into a feathered friend? This clever craft from Art and Soul Preschool is super easy. If you have a decently-stocked craft drawer you likely have the googly eyes, feathers and paint ready to go.
Mobile

photo: Buzzmills

8. Mobile Art
The ceiling’s the limit with this ultra-pretty mobile from Buzzmills. This easy-breezy creation uses watercolors (a kid fave) to create hanging flowers out of egg carton cups. The result is something worthy of a fancy window display—or maybe even a relaxing nursery.masks

photo: Teaching Every Day

9. DIY Disguise
This mask craft from Teaching Every Day is great fun for a masquerade dress-up bash. You only need a few supplies, and it’s easy enough for younger crafters to do the majority of the steps. Customize with the kids’ favorite colors or add feathers for additional panache.

Penguinphoto: Green Owl Art

10. Petite Penguins
How cute are these penguins from Green Owl Art? They’re just the right size for little hands and don’t require a lot of materials or time. Couple the activity with a viewing of Happy Feet, and you’ve got one egg-cellent afternoon.

Egg Carton Croc

photo: Lucy at My Kid Craft

11. Crafty Croc
Here’s a smile, crocodile! This green grinner from My Kid Craft is a lot of toothy fun. Best part? It requires three egg cartons to make—ideal for using up a big supply. Get the whole tutorial here.

Star Wars

photo: The Weisse Guys

12. Star Wars-worthy Space Ship
In a galaxy far, far away, there’s surely a Wookie who’d love to travel in this egg carton space ship. A perfect transport for action figures, LEGO adventures and more, this ship is fueled by imagination—and an easy collaboration creation for parents and kids. Thanks to The Weisse Guys for the idea!camera

photo: Let’s Do Something Crafty

13. Picture Perfect
Thanks to Let’s Do Something Crafty, your little artists can snap the perfect pretend photo. Though this craft may need a bit more grown-up involvement, the kids can definitely help out with painting, braiding the camera strap, or arranging the different elements of the “camera.”

Which egg-cellent craft will you try with the kids? Tell us in the comment section below!

—Gabby Cullen & Abigail Matsumoto



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Seedling Has Launched a New Line for Your Little Sprout


You already know and love Seedling for their all-in-one kits that give families everything they need for a killer crafternoon. Now, petite players can get in on the action with Littles, the recently released starter collection from the award-winning toy company. From the sweetest sushi set to a galaxy adventure, scroll down to discover a brand-new outlet for your budding creative kiddo.

What It Is

The brand-new collection introduces an awesome range of play experiences for little creators. There are seven kits—Galaxy Rocket Adventure Cape, Farmers Market Playtime Kit, Magical Hero Dress Up Cape, Let’s Roll! I Love Sushi Kit, Under The Sea Puppet Playtime Kit, Dress Up and Play Animal Ears Headband and Royally Cute Kitty. Made with soft materials and velcro, each one brings chic design to early childhood play while encouraging the good stuff: social development, problem-solving skills, and early learning.  

“We are thrilled to launch Littles,” said Phoebe Hyman, co-founder, and CEO of Seedling. “Every product in this collection sparks a story for each child to shape and share in their own way, that’s what the freedom of imaginative play is all about! We’re also excited to expand our product to a younger age range, it is a group of little creators we’re now able to inspire.”

There’s More

The Littles line also offers a digital experience. Download the free app (available on iTunes and Google Play) and scan the inside of the box top to unlock stickers, games and other fun extras.

The Fine Print

The seven-piece collection is available at seedling.com, $19.99 – $29.99.

What do you think of Seedling’s new creative experience? Share with us in a Comment below.

—Gabby Cullen



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No Dye Easter Egg Decorating Ideas


The classic food coloring and vinegar dye method is fun but this year, why not try something new? Click through the gallery below to discover cool, dye-free ways to transform your eggs. One thing’s for sure—these orbs are Easter Bunny approved.

How are you planning on decorating your eggs this year? Let us know in the comments below.

—Lauren Hill & Susie Foresman

 



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How to Make a Rainbow – Kids Project


No rainbow in the sky today? No problem. Just pick one (or all) of these easy ways to wow the kids with your rainbow-making know-how. From reflection (mirror) to refraction (water glass) to learning about density, we’ve found six ways to make or learn from the rainbow. Scroll down for the details.


Photo: followtheseinstructions via flickr

1. The Mirror Method

Lesson: Demonstrate the principles of reflection and refraction with this easy experiment. Light bending, aka refraction, takes place as light waves pass through the water. When you shine your flashlight (or position your glass so the sun comes in) you are bending the light waves, each one of the waves at slightly different angles resulting in the different colors of the rainbow. This is the same basic principle that occurs when water and sunlight create a rainbow in the sky. Reflection is the light bouncing off of the mirrored surface.

You will need:

A small mirror like a compact mirror

A glass of water (big enough to hold the mirror)

A flashlight (or sunlight) 

A piece of white paper or a white wall

1. Put the mirror in the glass of water.

2. Turn off the lights and draw the curtains. Make sure the room is totally dark.

3. Shine the flashlight on the mirror and check out the cool mini-rainbows that appear above the mirror. Put your hand behind the glass for extra fun. 

photo: Trini3680 via pixabay

2. The Garden Hose Technique

Lesson: Refraction, as above. This time, instead of using a mirror to reflect the light, you are going to basically mimic the natural formation of a rainbow by causing the water to hit the light in a fine mist.

You will need:

A spray bottle or a hose

Sunlight

1. Put the hose on mist or grab your mister and spray it into an area of your yard/house/garden that has natural sunlight hitting it.

2. Let the kids ooh and ahh over your rainbow-making skills, then let each of them take a turn.

photo: Steve Spangler Science

3. Water Density Rainbow

Lesson: By adding more or less sugar to each water solution you are creating different density levels. When you add coloring to the glasses you will be able to see which solution is the heaviest. Add the colors in rainbow order to impress the kids.

You will need:

Food coloring

Tablespoon

Five glasses or plastic cups (clear)

Water

Visit Steve Spangler Science to get the complete how-to.

photo: CindianaJones via flickr 

4. The Glass o’ Water Approach

 

Lesson: The most simple form of light bending, this lesson in the light waves is similar to #1 above.

You will need:

A glass of water

A piece of paper

Sunlight

1. Put the glass of water in the sunlight.

2. Put the paper next to it.

3. Let the sunlight stream through the water and create a rainbow on the paper.

5. Advanced Glass o’ Water Approach:


You will need:

A glass of water

A spray bottle

A piece of paper

Sunlight

1. Put the glass of water on a table or windowsill where there is sunlight.

2. Put the piece of paper on the floor where the sunlight hits, in the line of the glass.

3. Spray the window with warm water where the sun is coming through, and so it lines up with the paper. 

4. Move the glass and paper around until you see a neat little rainbow no the paper.

 

6. The Bubble Method

It doesn’t get any easier than making a rainbow by blowing bubbles. You can use regular dish soap and a bit of water and shake ingredients inside a bottle, or just blow bubbles and observe. Want to up the fun-factor? Make your own bubble mixture out of ordinary kitchen ingredients.

Can you make a rainbow? What’s your method?

—Amber Guetebier



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