kids toys

November: Month of books at

Made to Play!: Handmade Toys and Crafts for Growing Imaginations By Joel Henriques, Published by Roost Books (October 11, 2011).

I have a been a big fan of Joel Henriques blog for a while now – even though my kids are a little older than his – I really appreciate his style, design, colour, and imaginative sense of play. On his blog he regularly posts projects, colour in sheets, and templates for simple toys that he makes for his twin pre-school age kids. The toys are all pretty simple but ingenious at the same time – often made from recyled materials – bits of wood, wire and cloth, they are glued, stitched or nailed – all really accessible projects.

His book follows on from his blog with fresh toys and projects to make for that pre-school age and older (my 11 year old daughter found a few wire dolls and simple toys that she is planning on making herself). The animal finger puppets on the cover are an example of simplicity and cleverness all rolled into one – all you need is paper, tape and crayons – the kids can do most of it themselves too. More projects incude little carved wooden animals and those birds pictured above which are made with feathers, card, wire and a wooden thread spool. Joel also makes a wooden dolls house out of bits of timber with some modern furniture made from wire and cloth to go inside.

My personal favourite are the slotted building discs – which Joel recommends for older kids as they are little bit trickier to build with (but simply made with notched paper circles). My son has made the rubber band racing cars. There is also a chapter on homemade pretend and real musical instruments and another chapter on dress-ups – this project excerpt – modular leg bands is from this chapter. The last chapter is about making art – from simple animations to 3D drawings to little wood and wire sculptures.

Now because I know you want one of these books – Roost books is kindly giving FIVE readers a chance to win one – Yay! Thank you Roost.
So please leave a comment here – telling us one toy you have made with/for your kids. You have 48 hours to enter, winners will be drawn at random and notified by email. Thanks – and good luck! Comments are now closed the winners are #63 Abbington, #50 Bethany, #156 Mountain girl, #103 Nichole, #33 michelle: and you have been contacted via email. Thanks so much for entering.


For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

Katie writes for Ohdeedoh, but her number one job is taking care of her 3 kids, an overworked husband, and an antique cat. She’s addicted to making stuff, and tries to share as often as she can at Ohdeedoh or at her personal blog, matsutakeblog.

Autumn is my favorite season, and here in Minnesota it’s especially beautiful. I started making this corn maze marble run for my kids, and ended up going totally overboard with the Fall details.

The marble starts in the farmer’s wagon (made of tiny raisin boxes) and you have to get it inside the barn (a small milk carton) by tilting the whole thing (a cardboard file box lid) in your hands.

Be careful to avoid the duck pond and the pig’s mud puddle. To make these obstacles, just cut a hole in the bottom of the box and glue a piece of cardstock on the bottom of the box to cover the hole.

Then you have to choose between going through the pumpkin patch or past the old apple tree to enter the cornfield. You can find a tutorial for making the tree at my blog. The little felt hay bales keep you from going straight into the barn yet.

Once you’re inside the cornfield, you have to avoid making wrong turns into a dead end. To make the corn, cut cotton swabs in half and paint them yellow.

Once you pass through the grain silo (a toilet paper tube) you can roll around to enter the barn. You’re done!

Be sure to glue all the parts down really well so that nothing flies off while the kids are playing.
Happy Autumn! Thank, Kathreen!


For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

Holly has a tutorial and pattern up to make this cute and easy soft baby toy.