Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Recyclable Toys for Young Runners

Maybe it is post-marathon stress syndrome, or perhaps it is just me, but I finally hit my limit of small, plastic, choke-able, live-forever-in-the-landfill toys. I wanted recyclable, free, fun, toys for my tribe of young runners. Here's so fun ideas they have come up with in the last couple weeks.

1. Cans - amazing, recyclable and relatively free (we eat the food inside, rinse and ready to go).  The boys played throw lids into different sized cans all morning. Priceless!

2. Paper - we have made paper dolls, paper air planes, birds, trucks. Virtually anything their little hearts desire, we can draw, cut, glue, or color on paper. Making is most of the fun and then, hooray, we can play with it too. Sounds overly simple, and maybe we are, but it has been loads of fun for a very sore, post-marathon mommy.

3. Food  (or the leftovers) - Avocado seed o.k. so this one totally cracks me up that boys will throw anything if it comes into their hot little hands. We had a rough and rowdy game of "roll the seed." Oh, of course, it became "throw the seed" but seriously all my breakable stuff is pretty much gone anyway. It was  a blast and when it finally did crack we took it to the compost pile named Wormville and fed it to the worms. Too much fun!
4. Dirt - I know, this too is far to elementary, but you are looking at Mudville in the backyard. It doubles as a dirt track for the cars and a construction site for tractors. Mostly, though, the boys just use sticks to dig. It works!
5. Clothesline tents - you won't believe the hours my children have spent running in and out of sheets on the line. One rule is, of course, standard, "don't pull it down!" Sometimes it happens; oh well. It washes again.
6. Pets - I am not a huge fan of animals but my kiddos sure do love our dog Heidi. Poor thing, she is well loved and provides entertainment and learning galore. She, too, is recyclable in the end so I just had to include her.

8. Water - Little runner dude here loves water. Warning: may result in a new kitchen floor needed but in a round about way this has worked in my favor. In a couple months, I will have a new floor.
9. Kitchen metal pans - Also eventually recyclable, these beautiful items work great for counting beans, small rocks, seashells or anything that is too big to eat. 

10. Anything! Anyone! This is the honest little runners will race to the pole and back at least 15 times. They will throw a can lid and play who can get there first. They will fill cans with water or pull weeds and play harvest. They will cover me with the sweetest "kissing attack" for at least a half hour if I let them (then I must shower, ick slobber!).  They will play regardless of the items that surround them. They do not need plastic. They just need time and me and healthy guidance and a little creativity.

So I have gotten rid of more bags of stuff to the local Catholic charity. I have begun to view my house as a type of organism that must have a thicker skin. We do still have plastic toys, though much fewer I am happy to say. I can no longer allow in items that are poisonous to my children (thank you, toy industry).  I want toys that inspire creativity and movement (my children run for fun, no Wii needed).  And also toys that are recyclable so that we limit the amount of waste we create. I do believe it is a moral issue, one that I continually struggle with. Especially with the Holidays coming we are looking for ways to instill a sense of service rather than entitlement, fun instead of fighting, and always lots of love, laughter, and running.

What ways have you found for creative and conservationist play?

Please visit my cousin, Emily, and for more items on green living and fun for young ones!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link love!
    Such great ideas! My little guy also loved to just dig in the dirt with a stick (when it was still warm enough to go outside), and loves to throw anything and everything like it's a ball - including balls. It's been so amazing to me to watch the difference between boys and girls.

    How about puzzles? My 3 year old is obsessed with puzzles right now and I love how she will sit for 20 minutes, or more sometimes, and work on a puzzle. And since they're made out of cardboard, I figure they're eventually recyclable.

    And, we have WAY too many plastic toys, but I will say that most of them were bought second hand, so that kept them from going to the landfill, right?