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By the author of The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices.
Kids are an absolute blast. To watch as they explore the world around them, discovering for the first time what you’ve long thought was mundane, is both hilarious and fulfilling. To be able to teach them all the fun tricks, such as how to skip a rock on a pond, that you’ve long forgotten about is a part of being a parent.
Part of that exploring process for a child revolves around play. And to play, kids use toys. The problem for the frugalite is that many of these toys can be incredibly expensive. If you don’t have $75 to drop on the latest Lego set (perhaps you just blew through your budget on kid clothes), what are you as a parent to do to gift happiness to your children while giving them something to do?
This is where homemade toys can come in. Without further ado, here is how to save money by making your own kid toys.
The world of 3D printing is absolutely amazing, and I’m of the notion that it is only going to become a mainstream activity in the very near future as more and more people come to understand the many practical uses that one of these machines grants. Honestly, picturing a world where every house has a 3D printer, much like they have a washing machine, is not that far-off of a concept.
If looking for a way to make high-quality action figures, bath toys, games, or fun little toys for kids to play around with, you can’t go wrong with an investment in a 3D printer.
For example, looking for a fun little “treat” toy to give to your kid if they pick up all the sticks in the yard? Here’s a really cool velociraptor with a guitar that you can make. Is your kid a Star Wars fanatic? Here’s a high-quality Naboo fighter, just as detailed as anything you’d pay $35 for at the store that you can print at home. Have a collection of little boys that need a way to shoot off some energy on a rainy day? Why not print off a collection of tiny, functional catapults?
Got a teen in your life you’re thinking up gift ideas for? They may like a 3D printed puzzle cube.
You can find a 3D print project for literally anybody on your list, and there are a host of ideas present here that will help you to save money by making your own kid toys.
Fathers and mothers have gifted their little girls homemade dolls for millennia, and there’s no reason you can’t do the same today. A homemade doll only requires a minor investment in some cloth, thread, and stuffing (often, cotton balls).
You can easily put together two or three homemade dolls in three hours or so, making this a great way to spend a lazy, rainy afternoon when you’re looking for a way to keep your children entertained or want to save some money on a heartfelt gift.
Right up there with making your own dolls is making your own stuffed animals. All little kids like stuffed animals, and there’s no reason why you can’t make your own. I actually still have a little homemade bear a lady gave me at the hospital once when I was a little kid (it serves as a reminder for me to use my gifts and abilities to bless others).
This little bear is nothing other than two outlines of a bear stitched together, stuffed with cotton balls, and then turned inside out (so the seams are on the inside). A face was painted on, and voila, a homemade stuffed animal that’s lasted me for decades.
If you’re interested in creating your own stuffed animal, check out this how-to on a bear that looks very similar to mine.
Wooden stick horse
I suppose that’s the proper name for these. You know that horse head on a stick that you used to pretend to ride around your living room as a kid? They’re about as simple to make as is possible. Grab yourself a thick, wooden dowel at Lowe’s, cut out a horse head shape with a saw, attach it to the stick, and paint a face.
That’s all there is to this. If you’re looking for something that will do a little less damage when it’s inevitably turned into a sword, here’s a cloth head version of the wooden stick horse.
What kid doesn’t love puppets (the fun kind, not the creepy kind)? If there’s one thing that Sesame Street taught me as a kid, it was that puppets can hold one’s attention. Surprisingly, puppets are rather expensive at the toy store, though.
The good thing here is that you can easily make your own. Of course, there’s the traditional sock-on-the-hand bit, but if you’re looking for a bit more high-quality puppet, check out this how-to guide here.
Keeping your kids entertained doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Yes, kids are expensive, but you don’t have to spend a fortune on quality toys if you can make your own. The cool thing about this is that if you’re going through difficult financial times as a family, making your own toys can even teach your kids the importance of resourcefulness. And, of course, you don’t have to necessarily make toys to keep your kids entertained either.
Scavenger hunts, playing make-believe, hiking – these are all other great ways to keep your kids happy and constantly learning.
Do you make your own children’s toys? What have been your child’s favorites? Do you have some ideas not listed here? Let us know in the comments.
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has two published books, The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.
4 thoughts on “How to Save Money by Making Your Own Children’s Toys”
During my childhood, paper dolls were a big thing among the girls. A packet typically cost about .29 (about $3.00 in today’s money), which made them affordable. And we made our own for free, too, using Sears or Montgomery Ward catalogs. Some enterprising girls drew their own, or made clothes for their store bought paper dolls. Lots are available on ebay, but if you’re buying vintage, be careful that you’re getting the real thing. Many of them are reprints, which is okay, but they’re charging too much. You can print your own from hundreds of sites on the internet. My website has a few vintage ones.
Here’s the link to the specific page. Free printables include vintage Barbie and Ken, Patty Duke, Judy Garland, Betsy McCall and a few more.
Great article! Another idea is to trace your child’s silhouette on butcher paper and reduce the size of the pattern by tracing a smaller pattern within the lines and cut out some muslin material and then stuff it with fiber fill and paint the face. If you’re really on a budget then you could stuff it with shredded paper or sand. It would be like a mini version of your child.. You can use any outgrown coveralls or other clothes for a complete wardrobe and use yarn as hair.
If a person has a saw and lengths of wood, plus a little sandpaper, they can make a pretty neat collection of blocks for a little kid. If you have access to better tools you can make really cool blocks for older kids.
Also, saving random stuff around the house can give older kids craft materials – foam packing trays, cups, bottles, cans, cardboard tubes, etc.