Easy DIY Toys to make for your Kids!

This holiday season, if money’s tight but you have a little time, why not make some cool toys for your kids? This selection of toys can be made out of cardboard, recycled materials and other household items, and will provide lots of open-ended play that won’t break your budget!

The best part about making your own toys?

You can customize them any way you want! From paint colors to decorations, you can make something that matches your kid’s personality, interests… or playroom decor! From babies to school aged kids, these toys are sure to be a hit!

Click the titles to navigate to the tutorials for each toy!

1. Baby Stargazing box

Good for: babies

Cost: <$10

Materials: Cardboard box, Christmas lights, paint, contact paper, duct tape, other miscellaneous craft supplies

Time to make: 2-3 hours (plus time for paint to dry)

Why they’ll love it: newborns are fascinated by lights, and the twinkly Christmas lights in this box are incredibly soothing for fussy babies.

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2. Sensory Play Box

Good for: babies, toddlers

Cost: <$5

Materials: cardboard box, paint, felt, flooring samples, other miscellaneous craft supplies

Time to make: 1-2 hours (plus time for paint to dry)

Why they’ll love it: this sensory box features a variety of fun textures for little hands and feet to explore! The peek-a-boo flaps inside make a fun game for toddlers too!

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3. Squishy, Colorful Sensory Board!

Good for: babies through 7 year olds

Costs: <$10

Materials: cardboard, paint, food coloring, clear hand soap, ziplock bags, duct tape

Time to make: 1 hour

Why they’ll love it: the texture of the bags is totally irresistible to babies and toddlers, and older kids can use their fingers to draw in the gel or even practice writing words!

4. Chalkboard Activity Table

Good for: toddlers, preschoolers, school aged kids

Costs: highly variable (depends where you get your table)

Materials: old coffee/train/play table, chalkboard paint

Time to make: 1/2 hour

Why they’ll love it: a chalkboard activity table lets kids choose between drawing, playing, or a mixture of the two for endless possibilities!

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5. EASY DIY 2-in-1 Light Table and Sensory Bin!

Good for: all ages

Costs: about $35

Materials: two plastic bins, battery operated closet lights, frosted glass spray paint, Velcro

Time to make: <1 hour

Why they’ll love it: light tables are awesome tools to make childhood feel really magical! Check out No-Mess Painting on the Light Table for just one idea of a way you can use it!

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6. Cardboard Box Beanie Baby House

Good for: Preschoolers and school aged kids

Costs: <$10

Materials: Cardboard box, paint, recycled materials and craft supplies

Time to make: variable- probably 2-5 hours depending on your level of detail

Why they’ll love it: Dollhouses don’t need to be made out of expensive materials! The recycled materials in this little house give it a cool variety of textures and lots of visual interest. This post contains tons of ideas for DIY furnishings, and you can pick and choose to customize something your kids will love!

7. DIY Puppet Theater

Good for: Preschoolers and school aged kids

Costs: <$5

Materials: Cardboard box, paint, card stock, popsicle sticks

Time to make: 1-2 hours

Why they’ll love it: puppet theaters encourage lots of creativity and storytelling! Your kids will have a blast making up shows and performing. Although the tutorial is for a pumpkin themed puppet theater, this would be incredibly easy to customize to your child’s interests

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8. DIY Rainbow Train Set

Good for: Toddlers, Preschoolers

Costs: about $20

Materials: wooden train tracks, cardboard, food coloring/liquid watercolors

Time to make: 1-2 hours (plus drying time)

Why they’ll love it: this simple little train set looks beautiful, is user-friendly for toddlers and invites creative play. As a bonus- the tutorial includes directions for mounting in on your 2-in-1 Light Table and Sensory Bin!, in case you wanted to make both!

9. Baby Bottle Rainbow Rattles and Glitter Jars

Good for: babies and toddlers

Costs: <$5

Time to make: <2 hours

Materials: old bottles, food coloring, rice, clear hand soap, glitter

Why they’ll love it: these are a great, safe sensory experience for babies and toddlers. They look cool and make nice sounds when shaken. Toddlers will also love stacking and manipulating them!

10.Mirror Box

Good for: Preschoolers and school aged kids

Costs: about $12

Time to make: 30 minutes

Materials: cardboard box, adhesive mirror tiles

Why they’ll love it: mirror boxes are such a cool way for kids to explore with their toys and see things in a new way! It’s an awesome way to study geometry and inspire creative play. The three mirrors add- literally- many new dimensions to their play!

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Bonus!

Help kids celebrate the holiday season with a Christmas Tree Discovery Shelf!

Good for: Toddlers and preschoolers

Costs: about $10

Time to make: 2-3 hours

Materials: cardboard boxes, paint, shiny paper

Why they’ll love it: kids that aren’t allowed to touch the real Christmas tree will have a blast with their own, kid friendly version that’s safe for them to play with!

Give your toddler a hands-on way to get excited about the upcoming holidays with this DIY Christmas Tree Discovery Shelf! It’s a safe alternative to letting them play with the real Christmas tree, and it’s easy to make with some cardboard boxes and a few basic craft supplies! This is an easy, multi sensory Christmas activity for toddlers. #Christmasactivitiesfortoddlers #Christmascrafts #Christmassensoryplay

Will you be making your kids toys for the holidays this year? Leave a comment and let me know!

This is a list of easy DIY toys, but if you’re into sewing and you want to dedicate a little more time to making something special for a little person on your Christmas list, check out my DIY AlphaBuddies! Felt Letter People.

Decided DIY toys aren’t your thing? Maybe your kids would like some books instead! Check out these Awesome Gift Books for Every Kid on your Christmas List!

Want more magic in your life? Subscribe to our email list, follow Firefly Magic on Instagram or  Pinterest, like our Facebook Page or join my Facebook Group. an interactive forum where parents and teachers come together to discuss awesome activities for kids! Whichever platform you prefer, I look forward to sharing more exciting ideas with you!

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