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Toys Children Can Make

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HealthWiki > Disabled Village Children > Chapter 49: A Children’s Workshop for Making Toys > Toys Children Can Make

In a community rehabilitation program it is essential to have lots of toys—different playthings for children at different levels of development who have different strengths, weaknesses, and interests.

There is an old saying ...
We have a new saying...
adult chopping wood and children helping him
A family making their own toys
stuffing a homemade doll with wild kapok
disabled children making toys
Helping to make toys for other children can be just as educational—and fun—as playing with them.

Many of the most fun, most educational toys can be made from scrap materials by members of the family or community. Disabled children with good hands can learn skills and take pride in making toys for other disabled children. So it makes sense to make toys rather than to buy them.

The following pages show a number of toys that children will enjoy making in a children’s workshop. Or disabled children or their families can make them at home. We start with very simple toys for babies or children at an early developmental level. Gradually, the toys become more advanced. More skills will be needed by the children who make them, and by those who play with them.

IMPORTANT! Please don’t just copy the ideas for toys shown here. Be creative. And encourage the children making the toys to be creative. Help them use the examples shown on these pages as triggers to the imagination. Have fun!


small mirrors or pieces of tin foil or shiny paper colorful objects that move in the air
baby lyign down watching bells and mirrors hanging above him
small bells

Toys that help develop use of hands and sense of touch

You can make beads and chains out of wild fruits and nuts.

prickly rough and
fuzzy wrinkled or
smooth wriggly
a prickly fruit.
an acorn.
a fuzzy fruit.
a lumpy fruit.
a smooth fruit.
a twisty seed pod.
CAUTION! Be sure not to use things that are poisonous, harmful, or that might get stuck in the child's throat, nose, or ears.

For a baby, hang a ring of beads where she can reach and handle it. A child can play putting the nuts and pods in and out of a container. As the child develops more hand control, she can begin to make chains and necklaces by stringing beads on a cord.
a girl threading beads together
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Later he can learn to sort them - first by seeing them, and then blindfolded.

‘Snakes’ can be
made by stringing
nuts, 'caps' of
acorns, bottle caps,
or any
combination of
a snake made of bottle caps with a mango for the head.
small green mango
(or whatever you
can think of)
bottle caps
beans for
‘rattle’ of

2 kinds of toy hedgehog, with sticks or cloves for feet.
knobby sticks
from papache bush
papache (woody fruits
from wild bush)
guasima fruit

If you use your imagination, there are all kinds of toy animals you and your children can have fun making.

Rattles and other noise toys

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Gourd rattle

Find a small gourd (wild gourds or tree gourds may work).
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Cut a round hole at the stem and clean out the seeds and flesh. Let it
dry out well.
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Put 2 or 3 small rocks, nuts or other objects
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Find a stick the size of the hole. If the hole is large, thin
down this part
of the stick.
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Glue the stick
to the gourd.
Glue here.
To make it
and better
looking, mix
white glue
and sawdust,
fill in here,
and after the
glue dries,
sand it
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Paint it
Plastic bottle rattle
Bamboo rattle
Tin can rattle
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a see-through
plastic bottle
stick of wood
strips cut from plastic
bottles of different
colors, colorful
stones, nuts, etc.
ring cut from a plastic
bottle, bamboo or
whatever you have
ring can be wrapped
with strips of cloth or
tire tubing for easier grip
a rattle made from a section of bamboo, with either a cork in the end or a bamboo handle.
cork or
a tin can with a handle.
Cowhorn rattle
Trim rough edges.
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Put in a cardboard or wood plug.
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small rocks
Then seal with a mix of sawdust and white glue, or plaster of Paris.
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Smooth the
surface and let
it dry.

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If the child drops or throws his toys, try attaching strings and help him learn to get them back by himself.

Ideas for homemade music

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can lids
gourds with
seeds in them
2 wood sticks tambourine jingle bells jingle bells
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loose hardwood
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Soft rattle
Use a small can or bottle with a small stone inside...
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...or use 2
small bells.
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Cut a colorful
soft cloth
(flannel) into
this shape.
a cloth shape that can be folded into a cube.
Sew it into a square
and turn inside out.
Place can or bells in cloth square and pack wild kapok, cotton or bits of sponge around it. Sew it shut.
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wild kapok
Doll rattle
Draw a doll on 2 pieces of cloth,
and cut them out.
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Sew the 2 dolls together.
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Leave a small opening.
Turn the doll inside out.
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Put small
bells or a
rattle inside
and stuff
with kapok,
cotton or
sponge and
sew shut.
Sew or draw on a face.
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Animal rattles
Ball rattle
can be made in
the same way.
Cut 3 pieces of
one color...
...and 3 pieces
of another
Sew them together
except for a small hole.
Turn inside out and stuff.
rattles in the shape of a rabbit and a turtle.
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an oval shape pointed at each end.
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Push-along noise toy
Bamboo push-along
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Make hole in lid and
bottom of tin.
Put bottle tops,
small stones, etc.
Put loop of stiff wire through holes
with knot inside tin.
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a section of bamboo, showing where to cut near each node before filling and then making a handle for it.
Cut here
Plastic bottle pig

1 plastic bottle 4 corn cobs cardboard or leather for ears (Make 2 cuts in the bottle to hold ears.)
Make 4 large holes and one small hole.
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beans, rocks, nuts or bottle caps to put inside if you want it to rattle
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hard curved acacia bean(or anything else for tail)
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Papier-mâché piggybank
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Cover a balloon with papier-mâché.
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strips of newspaper or packing paper
paste of flour and water
4 to 6 layers thick
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Cut 6 lumps off a cardboard egg carton.
4 like this
2 like this

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Fasten down lumps with papier-mâché.
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Corks can be used instead of egg cartons.
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With a few coins inside, the
pig can be used as a rattle.
Decorate with paint.

Papier-mâché frog
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4 pieces of thick cardboard
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cardboard tube (perhaps from old toilet roll)
cut tube
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Cover with papiermâché and attach ‘feet’ and ‘hands’.
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When dry, cut out mouth and paint.

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The frog can be used as a handy storage container or cookie jar.
Children who need to develop hand control can play ‘feed the frog’— taking objects in and out.

Note: For the pig and frog, you can use a large gourd instead of a balloon.

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Games fitting pegs or blocks into holes

These games help develop better hand control and 'hand-eye coordination.' They also help the child learn to compare sizes, shapes, and color.

child playing with pegs and blocks
Drill holes in a piece of wood and cut pegs from tree branches.
a branch being cut with a saw
Or make a 'size box' by pouring cement, plaster of Paris, or clay into a mold. Or, make a 'plaster' box out of cow-dung or mud mixed
with sand (and lime if you
have it). Press pegs into
the wet plaster, and
remove when
almost dry.
size box with pegs decreasing in width
Or you can cut holes in a cardboard box. Glue an extra layer of tough cardboard on the top.
A cardboard box with holes cut into it
For pegs, use bottles, scraps of pipe, pieces of broom handles, bolts — or whatever you have.
different types of bottles and screws
Also, make games that help the child develop a twisting motion in her hands and wrists.
a child moving a jar with items in it
puzzles with blocks and shapes
Other ideas
Blocks for building a tower on pegs
Animal stackers
blocks with holes in them stacked on tall pegs.
Make it
more fun
by putting a
face on the
top block.
Blocks can
be cut from
a thin log.
Paint them
bright colors.
a homemade dog
tail made of broom, stick or rope
Cut rings from a thin log or bamboo.
leather or cloth ears
stick to fit
rings over
hole to
fit tail

Slide-on wire toys

To help develop fine control of hand movement, blocks, beads or animal figures can be moved along a wire. Children with poor control need only move the figure from one side to the other. Children with good control try to move the figure without touching the wire. The more bends you put in the wire, the harder it is.

A slide on wire toy with water waves and fish
To make it more interesting, match the animal figures with wooden bases in the form and colors of the place the animal lives: fish in water, squirrels in trees, birds in flowers.
a slide on wire toy with a wood squirrel hanging from it and a tree made out of wood holding the wire
child playing with slide-onb wire toys
Gourd Racing Car
A gourd made into a race car with string attached
beans as
pull string
Gourd baby
The gourd baby is fun because it can be given drinks and then ‘go to the latrine’. Thus it can be a good tool for ‘toilet training’ children. See other ideas and dolls for toilet training.
a gourd with two holes that are plugged in and a baby drawn on nit
children playing with the gourd baby
Now go poo poo in the potty.
Shapes on pegs*

Figures with posts for easy gripping*

a puzzle with shapes
With these, children learn
about matching colors,
shapes, and sizes.
a wooden puzzle of a body with wooden figures with grips that go into the body puzzle

Building blocks
different types and shapes of building blocks
made of wood,
clay, or layers
of cardboard.
a structure made of cubes and sticks
cubes and sticks
a wood donkey with a clothespin as a head
Biting donkey

This wooden donkey or horse with a clothes-pin head is fun to make and to play with.

It can also be used as a note or reminder holder. Perhaps disabled children at the rehabilitation center can make this to sell for pocket money.

Trace the donkey onto a piece of wood about as thick as the clothes-pin (1 cm). Cut it out with a jig saw. Also make a base, as shown. Sand pieces smooth and glue together.

Donkey carts
a homemade wagon from a bamboo stick and wood wheels
round shape being cut from twigs
an old plastice bottle iwth wood wheels and a flap cute out to look like a car, with a homemade doll sitting in it
old plastic bottle
child playing with a donkey cart
Tie or glue cart together.

Climbing bear

Cut a pattern of the bear out of a wood board about 2 cm. (¾ inch) thick.

a teddy bear with holes on hands for string to pass through and notches at the feet ends
Drill holes through the arms at the size and angle shown here.
Notch the ends of the feet so the cord can slide through the notch.

Hang a stick from the roof or a tree limb.

Child playing with the homemade climbing bear
Tie cords or leather thongs tightly to the ends of the stick and pass them through the arm holes of the bear.
Be sure the cord passes through the notches in the feet.

By pulling one cord and then the other, the bear will climb the ropes! Children love it!

Good for developing use of both hands together.

bamboo (or cardboard tube or corncob)
a box attached to a cardboard tube like a wagon
Cut loop diagonally for more length.
A homemade rubber band wind up toy
an old bicycle tire tube cut diagonaly into pieces
To help roller pull better (not slip), cover it with rubber tire tube or sandpaper. old bicycle tire tube Instead of a rubber band, you can cut a narrow loop of inner tube.
Paddle wheel boat
tongue depressers used as paddles by attaching them in the middle perpendicularly
Paddles from tongue depressors or pieces from an old plastic bucket, etc.
Notch the paddles and put them together like this.
homemade paddle wheel boat
rubber band
Use it to help the child enjoy bathing, develop hand control and even speech.

Corncob creeper
Use an old spool or corncob.
a spool with a notched rim
Notch rim of spool to help it pull without slipping.
a corn cob with to nails and a hole in it
two small nails to hold rubber band
corn cob with soap covering the nails and a stick attached to the soap
piece of soap
Wind up the completed toy and watch it crawl!.

boy playing with creepers and paper cones

For more fun, place a paper cone over the creeper, and decorate it to look like a person or animal.

Whirlygig screech plane

This simple noise toy can be made completely of waste material. The pin mounted at the front scrapes against the inside of the bottlecap—and the cups amplify the noise like the loud-speakers of a record player.

a plane made with recycled material being tied to a string which is attached to a stick
thin cardboard, folded and twisted, glued to stick
thin stick
2 plastic cups glued together
plastic cup melted with hot wire to hold pin tight
cardboard or thin foam plastic scraps glued to the cups
child happily playing with whirlygig screech toy
It whirls!
It squeals!
It flutters!


Puzzles can help a child learn how shapes, forms, and colors fit together. Puzzles can be made by glueing a picture on cardboard, wood, plywood, or other material. Cut out the pieces with a coping saw. Puzzles can be made in various styles:

Flower puzzles
Figure puzzles
handmade flower petals, and a flower made of handmade flower petals
Children can first learn to form one flower.
Later, they can play ‘sorting games’ with flowers of different colors.
Several children can
play to see who can complete a flower first—using dice with different colored sides.
small animal figures

Puzzles with cut-out pieces that follow the forms and lines of the drawing

First have the child build the main object (here, the owl) with a few pieces. Later, she can learn to fill in the background. A child solving a puzzle while adult observes
an image of an owl with an outer frame, and a disoriented owl without an outer frame
An outer frame helps hold the pieces together. A mentally slow child in Indonesia learns to fit together a fish puzzle. (Photo: Christian Children’s Fund, Carolyn Watson)

Puzzles with interlocking piecesBlock puzzles
Child putting together a puzzle an image of an eliphant made from arranging blocks in correct order
Suggestion: If you have a large photo of the child or a family member, glue it on cardboard and cut out the puzzle. Or use a picture from a magazine or calendar. Glue 6 different pictures to the sides of a thick board or sheet of foam plastic, and cut it into blocks. You can also make blocks from cubes of clay or small match boxes.

Ideas for the toys shown in this chapter are from many sources, including books. For books on toys and games, see Other Resources. Other toys are in sections:

Helping the Blind Child to Use His Hands and to Learn Skills
Early Play Activities and Toys
Ways to Make Toilet Training Easier
Range-of-Motion and Strengthening Exercises for the Hand and Wrist.

This page was updated:19 Jan 2018