I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’ve been pretty turned off by the number of noisy toys that scream “technology!”. It’s not that I’m against one or two toys like this, but when almost every toy comes in singing and ringing, it makes me wonder if our modern society is thinking a bit too hard. It’s gotten to the point in my home where I put away a lot of these toys and swap them out with new ones now and then. Just one toy box is all I have for Jack.
One toybox is not the worst thing in the world, as long as the toys in it aren’t lame. Unfortunately, a lot of the non-screaming toys on the market are pretty lame. So let’s just say that when my mom friends come over for playdates with their children, it’s pretty obvious that this is not the “cool house”.
As I reflect on this, to my right is the book “Where the Wild things Are”. What an amazing story. This book truly portrays the mystical world that every child should live in. The main character, Max, is able to transform his bedroom into a magical kingdom that fully comes to life and takes us all on a mystical journey through fantasy and imagination..
So how do we foster a “Where the Wild Things Are” environment so that our children and their neighborhood friends can creatively entertain themselves without the modern noise? We roll up our mama sleeves and go back to the basics. The following homemade items will surely make your home a playdate magic kingdom, while fostering an environment that allows your children to dive deep into their imaginations.
1. Magnet Wall
2. Homemade Kitchen
This is sick. I love it. And please let’s not pretend that kitchens are just for girls. Look at all the male celebrity chefs out there. A little gray, navy, or green paint can turn this girly kitchen into a male grilling machine.
3. DIY Teepee
A few sheets and dowels from the Home Depot and you’re all set. What kid doesn’t like their own space? And why not give that space a story? Plan ahead: Lay in bed with your child and read him or her a story about Indians. The next day plan an activity that gets your child out of the house. While they are out, get to work on building them a teepee in the corner of their bedroom. Cut out photos of real Indians and include fake firewood and a safe night light to make it even more magical.
4. Wooden Sailboat
Pretend that your family was washed away to an exotic island and you must build a boat of wood to sail out and fish for dinner. Take your child out into the yard and find real wood pieces, then build a boat together!
5. DIY Bowling
You can make a DIY bowling set with water bottles and any old ball. Decorate everything or don’t – most kids won’t care about the aesthetics. This is a really cool game that is pretty easy to clean up. Play it inside or have the kiddos bring it outside and line the pins up in the driveway. It will be a neighborhood hit before you know it.
6. Recycled Ball Maze
What mom doesn’t go through about a dozen paper towel rolls in a month? Why not recycle the remains of them and give your child a dream toy. All you need is an old box, some glue, cardboard paper towel roll tubes, and a few of dad’s old golf balls.
7. Shoe Box Banjo
8. Sheet Fort
9. Club House / Tree House
This is a bigger project, but one that will certainly get great use. My theory on the club house – go big or go home. You want to build something that your kid and his friends can sleep over in when they are old enough. Don’t be stingy, but save some of the final details for your child. Let him/her think come up with some ideas, like wiring messages via a string to mom in the kitchen, picking paint colors, and interior “furniture”. This is where kids get their independence.
10. Box Car Racers
I can’t stress safety enough with this one, especially if you live on a steep hill or on a busy street. Nonetheless, box cars are an old tradition that every kid loves. The key is to use all the right tools and plan to use the car in a controlled area. Look online for building plans!