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"Tolan, how cool is that?" queried Papa who had just put together a wagon with his three year old grandson. And posing with his newly created robot, twelve year old Cole said, "I think I'll be able to use this for school too."
Both boys had just completed projects using the age appropriate kits that I gave them. These reusable systems encourage youngsters to stretch their creative abilities. Tolan and Cole found used items from around the house (like empty boxes, egg cartons, paper cups, bottle tops, and coat hangers) and they combined these items into something else (a wagon, a robot, a car, a space ship, an animal.)
"Just add a box and some imagination" say the creators of RoloBox, Tolan's kit. It contains four brightly colored plastic wheels and brackets, eight wing nuts, eight bolts, and one pulling handle. Tolan, with the help of his grandfather, enjoyed twisting and turning the screws and later pulling his stuffed animals and mommy's keys around the house.
Cole's kit, on the other hand, called MakeDo, is actually for young people over five (although some adults have been known to use it in their offices as well.) MakeDo comes with an inspiration poster and 165 reusable parts: two plastic safe saws, 17 lock-hinges, 73 connecters, and 73 releasers. In addition, its website provides video tutorials and a gallery where "kids" can upload their creative images, some of which will end up on the next poster.
RoloBox and MakeDo are great gifts for special occasions and nice to have around the house for “rainy days.” (Of course, if one has a well-stocked workshop at home, he or she can put together something similar without having to purchase the kits as I did.) These gifts have benefitted my own grandchildren by encouraging creative activity; by helping them see value in everyday objects—even waste; and by providing a new way to look at and care for the earth.
By Viaux from Miami, Florida
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I have many times bought the kids those play food kits, and I always found they tired of the stuff quickly. Now I save empty boxes of food and keep switching the stuff around so they always have different play food. Best of all, it's free.
By coville123 from Brockville, Ontario
Tips for saving money on toys as suggested by the ThriftyFun community.: The best money saving tip I have is - don't bring your kids to the toy store with you.
My son loves to get ahold of my mom's pot and potato masher when he visits her. I didn't want to give him mine and have to continually take them away to use them.
I see toy food for sale all the time and think that not only is it a waste of money. It may not even be safe with all the recent recalls. Save pint-sized milk cartons, empty pizza boxes, empty mac n'cheese boxes, any food container.
My daughter and her friends are not buying their children any new toys for Christmas. Instead, they are having a toy swap among themselves.
Get toys with missing pieces for free or very cheaply and look for the same toy with missing pieces. Combine the toys for a complete set.
When my 4 children were small, we did not have much money and used our imaginations a lot. The one "toy" my daughter remembers is when we made a house for her Barbie out of a cardboard box.
Avoid the temptation to go online and spend a lot of money on the hot toys your kids are clamoring for. All these toys will be available in January for their retail price.
Don't you hate paying the crazy prices they charge for kids toys - and doesn't it seem like the only ones that go on sale are the ones that are really expensive to begin with?
Good examples for great sand toys are applesauce cups, laundry detergent scoops, powdered formula scoops, empty play dough containers and more.
Make sure to check out thrift stores for Christmas presents. I recently bought a set that had a barn, silo, cows, fences, etc. for $2, I plan to buy a tractor (new or thrift) and have this set up underneath the Christmas tree. My 3 year old will never know it wasn't new in a box. By Melanie
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Need safe toys MADE IN THE U.S.A. for a great-granddaughter that will be 4 years old in Dec. I do not sew or do handwork. Anyone have ideas that will be easy and not much money? ($10 - $20 max)
I already give her grandma money for her college fund. Her birthday is a couple of days before Christmas. I don't want her to feel left out of the birthday party so I need something to give her for that too.
Great Granny Vi from Moorpark, CA
Look for handicrafts made by your local senior citizens! They have their wares for sale at craft faires, etc. and are usually not expensive- look for rag dolls, and so on...or wooden blocks...
Dollar stores have cute things for little girls like hair doodads, socks, etc....Also grab bags which kids seem to love. I was born a few days before Christmas so I know all about "it's too close to Christmas" syndrome. Believe me, someday she will appreciate your kindness, you're a very thoughtful grandma!
It's true that everything in Dollar stores are cheap. The point is we now want to buy toys (and other things) Made in USA. You would have to check the packaging very carefully. Many churches have "fairs" in December and members often donate handmade things for sale. Good l;uck.
The best toys use the kids' imaginations. The awesomest toy I ever had growing up was a gunny sack full of blocks. They were just odd sized scraps and chunks, and they had been taken to a belt sander by a family friend to polish them a little. The three of us played with those until we were like fifteen or something. Loved them!! You could also look on eBay's vintage toy department for ideas.
Here's a list for you to check out. I believe all of
Melissa and Doug's products are safe and made in
the US. I've found some of their puzzles for
about $5. You can search for Melissa and Doug
if you'd like to see more of their toys.
You might consider clothing too, or a purse, or
even a little camera. They have some little digital
ones at Walmart (online) clearance for less than $10.
Hope you find what you're looking for!
Buy American www.foxnews.com/
Toys Made In America www.toysmadeinamerica.com/
US Made Toys www.usmadetoys.com/
Fat Brain Toys made in America www.fatbraintoys.com/
Lead-Free USA made toys www.thedailygreen.com/
*list of more toy sites here too
American Made www.madeinusa.org/
I ordered several things from www.klutz.com.
Painted rocks book
Solar powered car book
I like it where kids can actually do or make something.
Granny, my husbands B-day falls on Christmas Day & my middle childs is on Dec. 23, so I know how you feel that your granddaughter may feel left out. Usually, we did something for the both of them on the 23rd & I'm sure my son felt shorted because it was so close to Christmas that he didn't get as good of gifts as the other kids did on their B-days. Some of the things I tried were individual cakes, very elaborate decorations, lots of fun things to do--like pajama parties--& extra, extra attention. Still though, I felt the party was lacking. As for gifts, as the mother of 5, 4 year old girls like dress-up. I gave my daughter & then my granddaughters their own 'grown-up' purses (small for their size but they looked 'grown-up' & filled them with inexpensive lipgloss in the fancier bottles, a face powder compact with a mirror, a small bottle of perfume, hair doo-dads, their own little purse-sized brushes, & a 'little black book' & pen for telephone numbers. Believe it or not, my daughter, now 32, still remembers her purse & the fun she had with it!
Take a look at this great site for toys made in the U.S.A.