Using Everyday Objects as Toys

Lately, Roscoe spends all of his time running around our house, hitting a ball with his “ockey tic”  (hockey stick).  He can’t go anywhere without it and even has it by his side when we lay him down at night.  It is his most cherished possession.  It also happens to be a wooden spoon. 

Roscoe also uses his “ockey tic” as a drumstick, a “scooper-dumper” (shovel), and a  cell phone when he can’t be reached on his land line.

A few weeks ago we went to grandma’s house, two hours away.  Roscoe spent the car ride talking on his phone and beating his drumstick along to the songs on the radio.  Upon his arrival we went down to the beach where he used his spoon to dig in the sand, ladle seawater into his mouth, and pack down the exterior of the sandcastle he then quickly destroyed.  One toy sustained all this activity for the entire day.

Before I had kids I heard people talking about how children tend to latch onto cardboard boxes and rubber bands as their preferred playthings, but I had no idea just how true it would become. 

Here are some other objects that Roscoe adores:

Real pans: Instead of playing in a toy kitchen, Roscoe bangs around with authentic culinary stuff while I cook dinner.  I think he likes the fact that actual pans are much louder than their plastic counterparts.

The vacuum cleaner: Roscoe has to be held by daddy while the two of them vacuum the floor together.  It’s always the highlight of his day.

Tape: He loves having scotch tape stuck onto his hand and then sticking it on the other hand for awhile.  This whole process is very entertaining and can last for at least ten minutes.

What weird objects do your children love to play with?  Maybe we can get a top ten list going once we get all your ideas!


  1. It’s sooo funny that you posted on this!

    My husband and I were just talking about all these toys that our daughter has absolutely no interest in!

    We started discussing whether or not to buy her a new (and more interesting toy) until we reasoned that 99% of her toy time is spent organizing Q-tips and cotton balls into jars and waving around lightweight dinner napkins!

    I say, no need to spend the money when we have a whole house full of interesting stuff!

  2. Yep, toys are a big ole’ waste of money and plastic! Not that my kids don’t play with their toys, becasue they do, but when there aren’t toys, they have plenty of fun. I LOVE to hear their little imaginations at work. A few weeks ago, my son Ian, age 4, spent an entire day and half of the next playing with his little friend “rockety” which he constructed out of some plastic gizmos and string he found. He had a rather detailed explanation of the different parts of “rockety” and what they were for and where he went, including voices. Last week he created a “steam factory” out of an old shoe box, cups, rubber bands and doo-dads around the house. So now I am recycling in a new way – all the odd shaped pieces of packaging and things that I am just going to throw away are going in a box called “the invention box.”

    My mom claims that all the toys and books she had as a child fit in a little cupboard (which she still has) smaller than my bedside table. She is an intelligent, well-rounded and very creative person.

  3. Oh, wanted to add, if anyone ever asks me what to get for my kids, I will suggest things like lessons, camps, tickets, etc. Either that or clothes, because they do seem to keep growing. A friend of mine asked in her daughter’s birthday invitation to not bring her daughter anything new – either no presents or something used. My daughter had a great time going through her toys and finding something she thougth this girl would love. I thought it taught my daughter a great lesson in generosity too.=)

  4. That is a great idea for birthday party gifts, Eileen. I once read somewhere about making birthday parties into toy-swapping opportunities. Instead of each child bringing a gift for the b-day boy or girl, each attendant brings a used toy and everyone swaps somehow. Maybe it makes more sense to just bring a used toy for the birthday kid. At any rate, I like the idea of used toys for parties!

  5. I love the imagination and ingenuity of children! My kids never cease to amaze me with their new “toys”; a hanger, a stick, a left-over moving box, craft scraps can easily become a phone, a gun, a sword, a baby blanket, hair for a doll, the possibilities are endless…

  6. Boy, I wish I’d had this post and series of comments last week. I was inundated with “what should I get her?” in preparation for my daughter’s upcoming 1st birthday party. She really does just like exploring the house- pots and pans, paper, dirt from the plants. Right now she’s talking to a cup. Well it’s a lesson learned for future holidays and birthdays – be prepared with a list of simple things and experiences she will really enjoy. Meanwhile I will be thankful for the friends and family who love her and want to be a blessing to her.

  7. Museum and aquarium/zoo memberships also make great birthday or holiday presents for kids–my mom just got us one to the local children’s museum for my son’s 2nd birthday and we love going there.

    But back to the topic–my son too is in love with the vacuum cleaner! Also the DustBuster, he loves carrying it around and trying to dock it in the recharger. And the broom–we joke that he is training to be a janitor when he grows up.

    I think his first favorite household object, though, was the laundry basket. He just loved carrying it all over the house (he didn’t put anything in it, and if we did, he would immediately toss it out–he just liked the basket, I guess).

    Wooden spoons were popular for a while, as was our whisk.

    Quite honestly, while he does play a lot with many of the toys that we still buy for him, I think we are buying them as much for ourselves. 🙂

  8. Yogurt cups are a big hit at our house. We use them for building towers (pyramid shaped), nesting cups, water/bath toys, sand toys, and lots more. As my son gets older, I’m looking forward to using them as paint wells and containers for other artistic activities. They are also great for traveling – they can all nest within each other for compact packing, and if they get lost or broken its not a big deal.

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