December 8th, 2011

5 Best Green Toys

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tin drums

Drums made from repurposed aluminum cans

These toys don’t have to travel far to get to you. As a matter of fact most of them are already in your home. No wasteful packaging is needed-they’ve already been opened. These green toys reduce excess holiday waste and are made from things reused and repurposed.

If you haven’t had a chance to read the Jonathan Liu post for Wired entitled “5 Best Toys of All Time” you should. He nailed it. He reminds us that the best toys are all around us: sticks, boxes, cardboard tubes, mud, and string.

I thought, in light of Jonathan’s article, I would add a few more  favorite green toys that no child should be without (many of which are likely already in your home).

Wooden Spoons

wooden spoons

They cost no more than a few dollars and they can turn into almost anything. I’ve spied them being used for a one-man-band, a wooden spoon puppet and a toy robot.

Blankets and Sheets

Blanket bedding

Just a few of these thrown together over a couch, bunk bed, table or chairs and voila you have a blanket fort. A blanket fort is fun to play in and easy to build. Pillows are great for filling spots where the light is still coming in. Also needed: a flashlight and scary stories.

Pots and Pans

stainless steel Pots and pans


Kids and adults can create a marching band with pots and pans found in your kitchen. Pot lids make great cymbals (ear plugs required). Grab a few wooden spoons and start drumming and marching.

Coffee Table

Coffee table


The coffee table is generally thought of as a convenient place to display coffee table books, magazines or other personal items. With young children around coffee tables serve an entirely different purpose. They become a permanent home to crayon marks, scratches and finger prints. Our coffee table is often transformed into a perfect stage. Dance performances and talent shoes have all been performed on top of our square and very trashed  coffee table (three boys=standing on the furniture).

Toilet Paper

toilet paper

The toilet paper rolls are ready for action. They can be unraveled by the sneakiest of children in a matter of seconds. Toilets are frightened by the sheer volume of paper potential each time a little one walks into a bathroom. Toilet paper is just fun to play with. Zombies, mummies and the like have all been created from a few rolls of this fluffy white stuff. The inner cardboard rolls have been used to make a bee, bird and bat. We have also used them for marble runs, telescopes and telephones.

There are so many other things in and around your home that could easily turn into the best toy ever. What other ideas do you have?

This month the green moms have gathered once again for the Green Moms Carnival to share our thoughts on our Favorite Green Gifts. The carnival is hosted this month by Linda over at Citizen Green.  The carnival goes live Monday, December 10, 2011.  Be sure to stop by for lots of great tips and  suggestions for green holiday gifts.

[Photos used under Creative Commons from Pualv, Alan Levine, O5com, Phil Manker/Flickr]



17 Responses to “5 Best Green Toys”

  1. I always say, nothing is a better toy than a cardboard box.

  2. These are all such great ideas! I agree our children when they were little could play for hours with some cardboard boxes!

  3. I agree Kathy-a cardboard box can be turned into so many fun toys. Our favorite is an in-home mailbox!

  4. The boys had a huge camping session at home with theit blankets the other night. They said they were in the jungle! It’s so true that toys in your home are best, they never stop being popular!

  5. I like this list. My youngest is a pro at unrolling the toilet paper. I am sure he would love to try some of the other suggestions. I read an article the other day where the five best toys were sticks, boxes, string, cardboard tubes, and dirt. I like your list better, it is cleaner. 🙂

  6. Great post as always! I have another one – empty (clean) food containers – cereal boxes, yogurt containers…. Seal them up with tape or a glue gun ( or not) and the kids can make their own grocery store. We did this for our kids when they were a bit younger – huge hit!

  7. Don’t forget making art out of recyclables like yogurt containers, toilet paper rolls, tin cans, and cardboard boxes! All of the ideas in your post and the comments are great ways to encourage creativity and imagination in our kids.

  8. Funny! Little E just discovered my mixing bowls, metal spoons, and rolls from toilet paper.She loves to try and play the drums!! 🙂

  9. I think it’s just innate Stephanie! All three of my kids pulled apart every cabinet we have and made drums out of anything they could. Toilet paper was another constant when they were little. Many rolls ended up in the toilet-whole!

  10. Thanks for the great suggestions Andrea. We have used toilet paper rolls for so many things-marble runs, megaphones and art projects. I like your recyclable yogurt container idea! Cardboard boxes are ALWAYS a big hit.

  11. What a fantastic idea Kristina! I remember the Children’s Museum has an entire room devoted to a pretend grocery store and my kids always loved it. Why not do it at home?

  12. Hi Marsha! I think all young kids love to unroll toilet paper. It’s so much fun! I remember following my kids around and re-rolling each roll after they unrolled it. If it keeps them entertained then it’s worth it! I loved the Wired post about sticks, boxes etc….Just reminds us that the best toys are already in our homes and yards.

  13. There is nothing like a great fort Tiffany!Did they actually sleep in the fort? My kids used to ask me to come in the fort and I remember being incredibly uncomfortable because the ceiling was too low and the space was small. But I did it!

  14. I love this post, and I love the original article — what a great find! I may have to try to come up with my own “5 Best Green Toys” post, or just a list of items you already own that your child will prefer to play with over any toy you purchase them, one of these days. A brilliant idea.

  15. Thanks Betsy. I would love to see what you come up with. There are so many great “toys” already at home or in our yards that won’t cost a dime!

  16. […] fall well within my purview.  The topics I tend to cover are widespread and can run the gamut from toys and food to anything related to health. Women’s health is a topic near and dear to my heart for a […]

  17. My son can play with a box of wooden clotches pins for hours! It’s really fun to watch. He puts them in the box and out the box 🙂
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Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

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