Household Items Make Homespun Fun

Rebecca White  |  3/15/2006 3:26:47 AM

Paper bag puppets are among the many kinds of toys that can be made from household items.

News You Can Use For March 2006

It happens often when children receive a gift. The youngsters often are happier playing with the box than the present. Although amused at first, the gift-givers may soon suspect that their money was ill-spent.

In the preschool years, kids thrive on the freedom to experiment and explore as they play, according to LSU AgCenter family development professor Dr. Rebecca White.

Toys with little detail invite all sorts of pretending. For example, an ordinary cardboard box can become a rocket ship, a turtle shell or a cave – all at the child’s whim. A worn-out sock can become a puppet and become a variety of characters with few or no changes.

On the other hand, toys or play objects that are full of detail offer children a single use only. That’s why plain wooden blocks, large simple cars and trucks and materials like clay and finger paint have retained their age-old popularity.

Toys and activities based on household objects are usually inexpensive and can be designed to appeal to a variety of ages. They may not last long, but most will serve the length of the child’s interest. If a homemade toy turns out to be a favorite, additional ones can be easily made as needed.

It is extremely important when making homemade toys that you keep your child’s safety in mind, White reminds parents. She says to check all toys and activities for:

– Small parts that could be swallowed and inhaled.

– Sharp edges that can cut, poke or pinch.

– Paint or dyes that may be toxic.

Popular homemade toys include modeling dough, milk-carton or shoebox blocks, meat-tray sewing cards, paper bag or sock puppets and 2-liter bottle bowling sets.

Children have proven over and over that common household objects can have as much play value as an array of expensive or elaborate toys. Parents with a bit of creativity, an eye for safety and an adequate supply of enthusiasm can provide their family with hours of inexpensive and education fun.

For related family topics, click on the Family and Home link on the LSU AgCenter homepage, at www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com

Source: Rebecca White (225) 578-6701, or bwhite@agcenter.lsu.edu

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