Cheap Fun for Children

My children used to spend hours playing together with their favorite toy. Though most would assume it was a major purchase or some extravagant electronic gadget, it was actually a most simplistic and regular household item … only in mass quantity!

When my daughter was about a year old, a friend from church told me to start saving lids.

I figured she knew what she was talking about so I got a very large plastic barrel and started throwing lids in there. Anytime anything with a lid was emptied I washed the lid thoroughly and threw it in the big plastic barrel. By the time my daughter was 2 I had quite a collection. Lids in every shape, size, and color imaginable. I recall that her favorites were the patchwork jelly lids that were red (strawberry jelly) and purple (grape jelly). I continued to save lids through the birth of my son and well into his toddler years.

The two of them absolutely adored playing with the lids, both inside our home and outside in the yard. They were used for counting, sorting, stacking, creating art work and musical instruments, creating roads for matchbox cars, playing “basketball” by tossing them back into the plastic barrel, and just about anything else they could dream up.

I’m guessing most of you moms have learned the beauty of a group of empty boxes and how much fun children have with those, but there’s the whole issue of storage with boxes. Lids–that is the answer–lots of them; and thankfully they take up little space, but they help foster imagination and creativity in your children.

So moms, don’t become frazzled and “flip your lid” … save them instead. (Okay, that was really bad, but somehow I couldn’t resist, it just had to be said.)

What cheap, everyday, or household items have you discovered that your children enjoy playing with?

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4 thoughts on “Cheap Fun for Children

  1. huh, who knew?! my kids are in school, but I bet we could find lots of uses for lids. I have used them only as wheels and steering wheels on our box cars.

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  2. Great idea! Along the same lines, I have been saving bread tabs for about 8 years. My 3 year old loves to sort them out by color, size, shape, and, I'm sure eventually, by date.

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  3. This is a GREAT idea! I didn't know about this when my girls were young but I found out about it later. I started saving lids when my daughter was pregnant with my first grandchild. Now both of my grandchildren LOVE playing with them. The best part is that they can sit for MANY minutes at a time occupied with this activity. I place the lids in a washed out "protein shake" container with a wide mouth. They love to take them out of the container, see which ones will "nest" inside a bigger one then put them back in the container. We keep a separate container in each room of the house for easy access. I keep my them well supplied with lids. The lids also make great sand box toys. I only let them play with the bigger lids, nothing small to choke on.
    Another idea is to make "blocks" out of paper milk cartons. Cut the tops off and slide one milk carton inside a second one. They are very sturdy this way and can be covered with contact paper for a playful design. I also recycle the "smaller" lids (that they may choke on) by adding a couple inside each block before they are nested together. This makes them a fun noise maker/rattle sound. This can be done with any size milk carton (quart, half gallon or smaller) matching up same sizes.

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  4. I knew it was going to be boxes! When we had our kitchen redone a few years back, my kids felt like they had won the lottery from the box gods! Those boxes were in my living room for at least a week.

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