For preschoolers and babies, nothing beats a cardboard box! Older preschoolers can color on it, and decorate. Babies like to play peek a boo with the flaps (check it first for any small items.)
Make drums with empty oatmeal containers or the big formula/peanut butter cans (nowadays with safety lids)
Buy a cheap set of dominoes or cards for older preschoolers. They can learn numbers, sequencing, play memory, and learn matching and basic addition with the dominoes.
Keep a supply of non-bleach disinfecting wipes for cleaning garage sale and thrift store toys, or ones that are dropped. Dry thoroughly before playing!
On the days you have no choice but to go to a fast food restaurant, take advantage of the kid's meal (free toys) even for yourself. Restaurants like Wendy's and McDonalds have toys for ages 0-3. If you have a toddler (or crawler) order a meal for yourself (would you believe that used to be the size of a regular meal?) and save that toy for your child. Then they won't try to steal big brother's or sister's stuff.
Good way to get DH to eat less of the stuff too! Besides it's cheaper to eat that and you get more choices nowadays. Because they are toys that you got for free, keep them in the car for emergency fun! Or for grandkids visiting at the house.
By Kelly from Willamina, OR
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