The holiday season is prime time for the toy industry. The $22 billion empire rakes in big bucks from parents, grandparents and caregivers hoping to find the perfect gifts for their little ones. But after listening to Arvind Gupta’s TED talk, I wonder if we, the adults, have forgotten one of the most important purposes of toys: education? The well-respected engineer and toy inventor explains how he and his staff create toys from trash that are dual purpose: entertaining and educational.
For instance, he shows how matchsticks and an old bicycle valve tube (as pictured above) can be used to teach children geometry and building skills. Then continues by showing how a straw can be transformed into a sprinkler or an instrument. I like Arvind’s toys for a couple of reasons:
- Children (and their parents) can recreate his designs with little to no money.
- They allow children to be hands-on and have fun while making something unique to their interests.
DIY Toys from Recycled Materials
I understand we’re all not as creative as toy inventors, but don’t let that stop you from helping your child(ren) get more from their play time. Sometimes things as modest as refiguring a box can be just as fun for kids as playing with the toys inside. With a little bit of imagination and a few tools, a box becomes a castle, dollhouse, spaceship and much more. Or if you want to do even more, check out these ideas to make baby toys from recycled materials and other handmade toys to make traveling more fun. They can help teach your kiddos fine motor and sensory skills, counting, imaginative play and much more.
It’s not my intent to be a Scrooge and try to persuade you not to buy your child’s favorite doll or action figure. Rather, I hope to remind all of the parents (and family members) that they don’t need to spend lots of money on toys to make children to happy. In fact, Arvind’s motto is “the best thing a child can do with a toy is break it” then create another, even better one than before.