Who Needs Toys?


Interested in knowing why children don’t need commercially made toys?

The above tinkering kit was something I put together after looking at this blog post about loose parts theory by Carla Gull.

Repurposing items is the cornerstone of early learning.  Young children use their imaginations more when the toy doesn’t actually do anything so the less of a ‘toy’ it is, the better for helping your child develop creativity, problem solving and more.

If a toy makes noises, moves, and looks like the object then what is there left for a child to do?  They may press that button over and over but even a rat can press a button.  And I’m not fond of comparing children to rats.

Here are a few more items I like to have around the preschool that have been repurposed in the name of play!


If you’re interested, I’m planning a future post that shows what the children actually did with the items in the black tray in the featured photo above.  You will be truly amazed!

“To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” -Thomas Edison



9 thoughts on “Who Needs Toys?

  1. i would agree until you bring lego into it. granted legos not 100% as cool when i was a kid (some its cooler, a lot of it like 95% as cool) but really, if you havent played with legos for a few years then you just dont know. i promise, no ones paying me to say this.

    other than that, my favorites were a few stuffed toys and two robot arms (one was lego and programmable, the other was neither of those things.) i spent most of my free time playing with the computer and tinkering with legos and other things. does this support your theory? mostly, i think it does.


    1. I think it does support the theory. Lego is basically random bits of plastic. It doesn’t do anything. Where it falls down are the step by step kits. That takes away the creative factor. If a child is building something without following a picture or instructions, something unique designed by the individual then that fits with loose parts theory. Not my theory but I like it. And I am continually amazed by what children can do with collections of random items.

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      1. dont be too hard on the step-by-step kits. when i was learning to code, i learned more from taking things apart than putting them together.

        but once i learned how to code, i wanted to know all the ways they could be put together. and i think it wouldve been easier to do it the other way, if the syntax for explaining the ways to put things together wasnt more complicated– either way, it always advanced my own skills and ambitions to take some inspiration from other things people worked on or talked about. the thing that really stinks about legos is– theyre based too heavily on static designs now (like things from movies.) before all the licensed entertainment, there was more reason to imagine totally different designs– that hasnt gone away entirely, but they did it to survive financially. the “girls” sets are pretty creative, though. my girlfriend and i were very impressed with those. its where most of the innovation is going on with lego these days.


      2. I will freely admit that I know nothing about coding. Also if we are keeping it real, I bought many kits for my son as he was growing up (sadly, they didn’t have the girls sets at that time) and he spent many happy hours in his room with those kits. I just hope that kids feel free to try their own ideas too.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. i wont try to convert you (i would generally hate to do anything presumptuous or impolite) but just so you know, my “mission in life” as it were, is to convince anyone i can of the following:

        * anyone can learn to code
        * everyone should learn to code
        * even if youd rather arrange flowers or work in a bar for a living.

        i was in love with a bartender last year. i dont think she will go into coding for a career, but we sat and worked a little code, she even helped me write a programming language. no prior experience.

        a lot of people find coding “impossibly” difficult. well thats not surprising 🙂 they rarely make it *as easy as possible* to learn (but then, thats my job.) do drop me a line if you ever get curious. 🙂 best!


  2. My preschool girls love to sort my sewing supplies (buttons, zippers, trims, thread) by shape, color, texture, etc. My cruiser will stay busy for hours transferring plastic lids between his 3 drawers in the kitchen.


    1. Yes! That’s what I’m talking about. Think outside the box for ideas of what children might consider toys. One of my favourite ideas is to take old appliances that no longer work and take them apart. Lots of learning opportunities there.

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