If your home is anything like mine, you’ve probably got plenty of toys sitting forgotten on a shelf or in a cupboard, right? We’ve all been there: your little one was gifted a brand new toy or puzzle for their birthday and at first they played with it almost every day, but over time, started losing interest until they stopped playing with it all together.
And there are lots of reasons this might happen – perhaps your little one may have mastered the toy or the puzzle, so it wasn’t a challenge for them anymore and not as inviting as it first was, or maybe their interests have changed and what was one of their favourite toys was replaced by another new favourite.
But before you pack it away or put it in the Donate Pile, you can inject new life into old toys by using or displaying them in new or exciting ways.
And when we do this, not only do we save money by using the toys we already have to keep our little ones busy instead of buying new toys all the time, but we also help our little ones develop their own creativity and problem solving skills as they explore different ways to play with their toys.
Take this Hape Shape Puzzle as an example.
This has been a much loved toy in our home over the years, but now that our youngest is pretty confident with it, it just wasn’t getting much use anymore. So we found some new ways to play with the coloured pieces and it quickly went from sitting forgotten on the shelf to being used every day!
So if you’ve got one of these puzzles, or maybe a similar one, here are five ways that you can use it in new and exciting ways!
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These pieces make such great blocks for stacking! You can try building your own towers for your little one to knock down or they might like to try and stack their own towers. You could also challenge your little one to build a tower using all of the pieces!
Grab the blue and green pieces, a blue and green bowl and encourage your little one to sort the pieces into the corresponding bowls. This is a great way to explore how different shades are still the same colour – the light blue, bright blue and dark blue are all still blue!
DIY Shape Sorter
This one took a little bit of prep to make for Harrison (when I say a bit of prep, it took maybe ten minutes – so longer than usual but not too long!), but it was definitely worth it because we basically made an entire new toy! To make the shape sorter, I found a large container with a lid, traced around the three different shape pieces on the lid then used a craft knife to carefully cut out the shapes. Harrison definitely enjoyed the challenge of the shape sorter, especially once he worked out how to get the lid on and off independently, and came back to this new toy regularly for a few weeks.
Stamping in Playdough
There are two ways you can use these shapes with playdough – the first is letting your little one stamp the shapes into the playdough to make imprints, or you could try stamping each piece into the playdough for your little one to match. Either way, it will likely extend into wanting to use the playdough in other ways, which is what we love because it means our little ones play for longer!
Stamping in Paint
This idea uses similar skills to stamping the pieces in playdough, except you can try adding paint and paper and make it into a process art experience. Harrison absolutely loved doing this, and we got some super cute artwork too!
I hope this has given you some ideas for new ways to play with the Hape puzzle (or any similar puzzle!) rather than letting it sit forgotten in your cupboard. Are there any other ideas you would add to this list? I’d love you to leave a comment and share your own play ideas, or tell me which one of the ideas I’ve shared you’ll be trying with your little one!