Fun, Frugal Kid Toys

by Kelly · 11 comments

in A Frugal Family

vacation-2008-112I don’t know about your kids, but mine are often happier playing with the box than the toy that was inside! It seems like simple toys are often the best, and, not surprisingly, it’s also often the most frugal.

(This picture was taken last year, of my older two kids playing pirates with a cardboard box. The box had held a skateboard, my second son’s birthday present.)

Here are 19 other frugal ideas for kids toys:

  1. Sidewalk chalk
  2. Bubbles (here are some recipes for the homemade stuff)
  3. Playdough
  4. Mud
  5. Plastic cups
  6. A bucket of water (for the plastic cups and mud above!)
  7. Tennis, basket or beach balls
  8. Balloons
  9. Paper and crayons
  10. A small doll or stuffed animal
  11. Large scraps of fabric or scarves
  12. Old clothes for dress up
  13. Mom’s leftover eyeliner for drawing scars or tattoos
  14. Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs or wooden blocks (look at garage sales for good deals)
  15. A bike (although the purchase might not be that inexpensive, in terms of time spent playing versus cost, they are usually very frugal!)
  16. Small cars or things to push along the ground and go vroom
  17. Pots and pans to cook with
  18. Things for gardening (otherwise known as ‘digging in the dirt time’)
  19. Cardboard boxes (of course!)

These are all things that my three kids love to play with! What are your children’s favorite frugal toys?


1 Amanda @ Mommy' May 4, 2009

My kids play with most all these toys also. One thing my son can't seem to get enough of is strings or small ropes. He plays for hours tying toys together with strings or ropes and hanging them on whatever he can find to hang them on.

<abbr>Amanda @ Mommy's Idea Book´s last blog post..Mom…and loving it! by Laurie Hilliard and Sharon Autry</abbr>

2 Molly May 4, 2009

My cat loves the cardboard boxes, too! In fact, just this morning, I put it in a different place in the living room, and it was like a brand-new box all over again. Frugal fun extends to pets, too. 🙂

3 Bette in the Midwest USA May 4, 2009

I couldn’t agree more with your ideas of cheap toys! My 10 y.o. son, who has no shortage of toys, LOVES to make things out of boxes of all sizes and shapes, cardboard paper towel and toilet paper rolls, and other items in the recycle bin!! He’s currently into pirates (again) and has made an entire fleet of ships outfitted with all the accessories, entirely out of recycled items. He’s make elaborate cities inspired by Walter Wick’s I Spy books and more ships, planes, etc. than I could count. We supply him with the tape and staples and let his imagination and creativity take over. Isn’t childhood grand?!

4 Laura May 4, 2009

I did not know I was so frugal! I gave my kids paint brushes and water and they painted our shed a lovely darker shade of brown. My boys also loved to make what they called “snake bread” it was a mixture of anything leftover that was ready to be thrown away. It could have been crackers or pudding it did not matter they loved stirring and it was going in the garage anyway. One last great fun thing that really worked for our boys, shaving cream. : )

Laura´s last blog post..15 Reasons Mom Will Love an IPhone

5 Kika May 4, 2009

My parents passed down huge bins of playmobile and lego to my kids (collected over the years by my younger brothers). Now, neither of these things are cheap to buy initially of course, but they were free to us and are well loved and provide hours of entertainment. As much as I love to declutter, I plan on saving these bins to pass on later to my own grandchildren. My three year old really enjoys her play kitchen which I originally bought, second-hand, for $25 about 8 years ago (for her older sister). I definitely also agree that chalk and bubbles are fun, inexpensive, warm-weather entertainment.

6 Craig May 4, 2009

Kids are easy. Growing up, if you gave me a ball and string I would be happy for hours. Kids use their imaginations more and are entertained very easily, so no need to buy ridiculous expensive toys when the little things can satisfy.

7 Carrie May 5, 2009

The list you gave is pretty much what my daughter loves best. This week she wants to play with worms and her magnifying glasss. I found an inexpensive, unbreakable plastic magnifying glass at Christmas time, and she spends hours inspecting all sorts of things.

Like most kids, the best treasure you can give her is an empty cardboard box and some spare time alone to play with it!

8 Miguel de Luis Espinosa May 6, 2009

I don’t have kids, but I have favorite frugal toys: paper miniatures. There are pages like junior general dot org with zillions of soldiers, cars, houses and the like, all available for download and printing

9 Diana May 9, 2009

I love this post. I have 4 children with wide age ranges 1-13. In my experience the simpler the better. At our house we love, love balls, bikes and anything we can do outside. Inside we are fans of more balls, the play kitchen, board games, art supplies and making forts from blanket and pillows.

Diana´s last blog post..Barnes & Noble Earn a Free Book

10 Jenny May 12, 2009

my son is like that too. xD

Jenny´s last blog post..The Mommy Bunch

11 Catherine March 26, 2010

I like that magnifying glass idea!

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