I’ve been crafting for pretty much as long as I can remember. That means that I, like many other crafters out there, HATE throwing away supplies that I even suspect I could possibly use in the future. It drives my husband crazy. However, he complains slightly less now as that means I have many things around the house already that I can use to create various activities (usually involving fine motor skills) for our 19 month old.
Even if you aren’t a crafter like me, you probably already have many of these items around the house as well:
1. Puff Balls
I use them for a variety of sorting activities and sensory bins. They’re great for teaching colors, come in different sizes, and are perfect for little hands.
2. Toilet Paper and Paper Towel Rolls
Since we already have plenty of these around the house, there’s no reason not to use them! We use them in crafts as well as sorting activities.
This is one of those supplies that I have so many of because I’ve been crafting since I was young. We use them in our sensory bins (and are the reason we’ve taken to calling them “bead boxes” in our house). As our toddler gets older, I will definitely be incorporating them into other activities as well. Stay tuned for that!
4. Egg Cartons
This is another that we already have around the house, so there’s not reason not to use them. We mostly use them in sorting activities.
5. Paint Brushes
This is one supply that I went out to get specifically for our toddler. We bought a pack of the cheap, chunky paint brushes that are easier for her to hold and won’t truly matter if they’re destroyed for one reason or another. While we’ve used them for actual paint by now, they are mostly used outside to paint with water on cement.
6. Measuring Spoons
There’s something about getting married that makes family think you need a ridiculous amount of measuring spoons. We had so many in our kitchen, that I found a much better use for some of them than sitting uselessly in a drawer. They are perfect for scooping and sorting. We especially like to use them with our sensory bins. As she gets older, we’ll even be able to start teaching measurements since that is their primary purpose.
7. Food Storage Containers and Plastic Bowls
Who doesn’t have a bunch taking up space in the back of their cabinets? If you don’t, I applaud you! That being said, we decided to give new life to our unused food containers as containers for sensory bins, sorting activities, and various other fine motor skills activities. They also double as storage for some smaller supplies such as puffballs, plastic balls, clothespins, etc.
8. Empty Plastic Bottles
As you can probably tell by now, I like reusing “trash” as much as possible. Plastic bottles are no exception; if they held anything other than water, a little soap and water will clean them out just fine. They are great for counting games, exploring water and other liquids, sensory bottles, and various crafts.
9. Empty Boxes (big and small)
Yes, I pretty much just search my recycling bin for supplies when I’m in the mood to make activities for my toddler. Boxes are the greatest. We’ve built instruments, play kitchens, cars, etc from boxes. Plus, it’s a great material to use for crafts because it’s sturdier than flimsy paper.
My 19 month old might not quite be able to open and close clothes pins, but that doesn’t stop her from using them. She uses them in sorting activities (using the opposite end to grab), likes pulling them off of paper, taking them out of and putting them back in bags, putting stickers on them, and seeing what happens when you move the different parts around.
I say she does this because this is one supply that she is the full reason that it’s even on this list. I never would have thought she’d be old enough to use it in activities since she doesn’t use them “traditionally”, but this just shows that little ones really do take learning into their own hands if you give them the opportunity to. I had handed her a small ziplock bag full of them once to entertain her while I was cooking and was surprised (and quite pleased) by the result.