Make Your Own Inexpensive Play Kit

How to use items around the house to enhance your toddler’s imaginative play.

When the baby is finally potty trained and older siblings begin kindergarten, chances are, you’ll begin unloading all the infant clutter around the house. There’s no need for these items, right? 

Not so fast. The older kids get, the more they begin testing their imaginations with games like “school,” “doctor” and “babysitter,” and the sets offered in stores or online can be expensive for a young family. Check out some ideas for inexpensive kits that Indianapolis sitter Jenna Hildebrand has found helpful for her young ones during play time. 

Baby Diaper Bag Kit 

You probably have more than one diaper bag lying around. If not, grab an old purse or book bag, and begin filling. 

  • All of the nearly empty travel-size baby powder, lotion and shampoo bottles can be cleaned thoroughly, using the empty container as play for the diaper changing station. 
  • Throw in a few leftover diapers (the smaller the better) 
  • Dig through the early infant phase supplies and grab a small travel changing pad, newborn bottle, comb and brush set. 
  • If you haven’t already moved along the newborn clothes, grab a small onesie or sleeper before handing off for donation or a yard sale. 

Doctor’s Kit

In a small Tupperware container, fill with these items most likely lying around the house or even in an old medicine cabinet. Be careful as to which “supplies” you put in the container based on the age of the child. Some items may need to wait till children are older.  

  • Gather some adhesive bandages, a leftover sling or wrap bandage from an old injury. 
  • We all have extra masks! Throw one in for the doctor of the family. 
  • Have any tongue depressors from a leftover craft? If not, often, your pediatrician doesn’t mind sharing one at your next appointment. 
  • Many parents use latex gloves for cleaning and/or diaper changes. A pair of these come in handy for little ones performing “surgery.” 
  • A small pad and pencil for writing prescriptions. 
  • If you have an old thermometer (make sure it isn’t a glass thermometer), take the batteries out and allow your child to take your temperature. 

Teacher’s Kit

Each year as school comes to a close, teachers send home the leftover supplies your older child didn’t use. Save some of these for playing school over the summer. 

  • Put together a set of pencils, pens, crayons and markers. 
  • Add an old spiral notebook or loose-leaf paper.
  • In last year’s school returns, you may have some old textbooks or workbooks to use (and this helps with practice too!).
  • Throw in a few envelopes and leftover stickers.
  • Add some chalk (either for outdoor use or with a chalkboard) and/or dry erase board and markers.
  • Take the lenses out of an old pair of glasses for the “official” teacher look. 

Let your imagination go as you see items you might have otherwise thrown away with a new purpose. If you’re not sure, ask them! Children often see something in a miscellaneous item we parents don’t. 

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