Source: Unsplash SMillar

Wouldn’t it be nice to know that toys could last forever? Sadly, when we purchase toys or receive them as gifts, we know most of them won’t be around for years to come. Either our kids outgrow them or parts break and make them unusable. But there are always a few special picks that we want to keep around, and with these cute DIY hacks, you can repurpose some of your favorite old toys for both educational and practical use!

Source: Debbie Zelasny

Water Table Redesign

Our favorite water table grew faded and old within a few years of using it, but rather than discard it, I cleaned it up as best I could and brought it inside for sensory table use. Every few weeks, I would change the theme and add items for holidays or special events (pink cereal for Valentine’s Day; pastel pompoms for Easter; beans and seeds for spring). We even filled it with rainbow rice for an art-themed birthday party and let all of the kids try it out.

Source: Debbie Zelasny

Toy Bird Feeder

Feeding the birds isn’t just fun; it’s educational, too. Kids love watching different birds come to feeders, and they can even follow along with field guides or fact books to help identify who visits their feeder. You can create your own bird feeder out of various old toys, such as a large old Tonka dump truck (pour some birdseed in the back end and place it in a safe location) or glue Lincoln Logs together in a square shape. Add wire or string and place birdseed in the center for your feathered friends to enjoy.

Source: Unsplash KNeedham

Teddy Bear Backpack

Although my son would classify this as “stuffed animal abuse,” it’s possible to turn an old teddy bear into a useful backpack or tote bag if you know how to sew! By cutting the bear up the back and removing the stuffing, you can add a liner and simple handles to make a useful carry tote. Use the teddy tote as a way to hold library books or reading suggestions, making him a beloved “book buddy.”

Source: Debbie Zelasny

LEGO Pencil Holders

LEGO bricks truly can last a lifetime, but there are ways to make them useful instead of just lying around in a covered bin. Have your master builder create a small pencil holder or tray for school supplies, trinkets, or other goodies. The holder doesn’t need to be overly complicated and can be any color or size your child decides. Not only will you be putting those LEGO bricks to good use, but you’ll also (hopefully) be cleaning up some clutter and finding a storage space for small items.

Source: Unsplash KVardazaryan

Car Wreaths

Die-cast cars can certainly pile up over time, and storage boxes filled with them can be heavy and unmanageable. A fun Pinterest find is a cute die-cast car wreath, which makes a cute decoration on doors or walls — even in a garage! Plus, gluing the cars to the wreath outline is a great way for kids to practice fine motor skills. You can purchase a wooden or wire wreath frame from any craft store, and using industrial glue(or a hot glue gun with supervision), kids can easily place the cars along with the wreath frame, side by side, to make their own die-cast decoration.


Lastly, if you can’t find an educational or truly purposeful use for old toys, why not immortalize your favorites? Grab a shadow box from a local craft shop and fill it with your child’s most sentimental toys. Hang it on a wall where you can always look at the toys fondly and remember the special moments playing with them.

Of course, when all else fails, donating toys to local charities, churches or schools is always an option for repurposing. There’s no better way to find a new use for a toy than to pass it along to someone else in need.

About the author

Debbie Zelasny

Debbie Zelasny

Debbie Zelasny was an elementary school teacher for more than a decade before taking the plunge into the world of motherhood and blogging. She now owns and operates The Jersey Momma, an entertaining website for families and fun-seekers of all ages. Debbie loves going on adventures with her family, trying out new toys, giving travel advice, and sharing a myriad of cool stuff on her blog. She's not afraid to let her inner child shine through and she doesn't think you should be, either. Debbie's writing has been featured in The Mailbox Magazine, Yahoo! Voices, Pink Cake Box, and Thrive Global. She also really, really loves her dog.