Toys & Books

6 Unexpected Ways to Play With Toys You Already Have

melissa & doug blocks on the floor"
melissa & doug blocks on the floor
Source: Steph Alleva Cornell
Source: Steph Alleva Cornell

Finding toys that are fun and exciting is an easy feat nowadays with so many options out there online—the hard part is keeping your kid interested in their toys for more than two minutes. And I know it’s not only my kid that has the attention span of a golden retriever. No matter how cool or relevant to his interests a toy is, it seems like he gets over it so fast. Buying new toys every week is NOT an option for most families, so it’s up to us parents to figure out creative and cost effective solutions to keep their attention peeked. 

Let’s be real—after a full day of mom, wife, and work duties, my last two brain cells cannot think of new, flashy entertainment ideas for my kids. I’m already jonesing for another shot of caffeine and bracing myself for witching hour by 4pm. If you’re in the same boat because the mom creativity has left your body before dinnertime, don’t fret. I tapped into the genius minds of The Everymom editors and rounded up six unexpected ways to play with toys you already have.


1. Just add water

Hmm, these toy cars are looking a little dirty. Let’s take them to the car wash! Line them up next to the sink and prepare to get sudsy. You and your little could also start bath time for their plastic or wooden toys and clean those up too!


2. Make a sensory bin

Smaller toys can be put into a bin with foam, kinetic sand, or soapy water. You can use toys like pretend cars, animals, or food items. Truly anything can be turned into a fun sensory activity with a “just throw it in!” kind of mindset.


Melissa & Doug
GO Tots Barnyard Tumble

If you already have any of Melissa & Doug's GO Tots play sets, the disks included are the perfect toys for sensory bins because of their small round shape and they feature tons of fun and diverse characters.

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3. Start a treasure hunt

Hide their toys during nap time and prepare to spend the next hour with a toddler rummaging the house. You may end up with all your throw pillows on the floor but at least they’ll be having fun. 


4. Play vet or doctor 

If your house is filled with a mountain of stuffed animals in every corner, then prepare to scrub in cause the doctor has arrived. This is also a great way to teach littles about empathy starting at a young age. 


5. Conduct a dino dig

Have a dinosaur enthusiast at home? Bury their dino toys in the backyard and give your toddler digging tools to transform them into a mini paleontologist. Bonus points if you use cool rocks to simulate fossils.


6. Build an animal habitat

Show your little one how to use their blocks to create a zoo or barnyard for their pretend animals. You could also practice counting the animals and making animal sounds with this activity. We love when playtime helps facilitate learning as well!

Melissa & Doug
Large Farm Jumbo Knob Puzzle

Puzzle pieces also work great for this activity as well if your little one doesn't have small pretend animals to use.

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