tight budget and innovative toys - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 11-11-2005, 09:41 PM - Thread Starter
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hi mamas, i am trying to figure out how do you buy toys on a tight budget.

i am on a really, really tight budget. but sometimes i also feel i am not providing enough age appropriate 'toys' for my 3 year old.

i do a lot of dress up things but i was thinking more about construction type of toys. wedgits, magnatrix, good set of blocks, those flexible bendable things, etc. those of you who are on a tight budget too how do you buy them.

i have done thrift stores but they are so rare to find. one time i luckily found gears.

i have put change away and got her polly pocket.

we do get things from local hardware stores like elbow joints of pipes and others from teh kitchen aisle too. should i try and save and get wedgits type of things or are there cheaper things i can subsitute instead? as you can tell i am not v. creative.

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#2 of 9 Old 11-11-2005, 09:49 PM
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first of all, is she interested? or you feel you are missing out?
i have the same feelings, that i would like to get really cool construction toys, but can't afford them. but then i remind myself that dd is not really into this right now.

i got her good quality wooden blocks from a thrift store, and she is not very keen on them

i also think that one good set of something she likes is enough. like she does not have to have every construction set available. there are way too many anyway. i would save up for a good quality one. i am not familiear with brand names either, but i would not go for an imitation -- there is nothing worse that a construction set when something does not work. i remember some metal things with screws as a child -- i could not do a single screw, it was so poorly made and too tight or too loose.

what about gifts from family? can you ask your family to pull together for one nice set that you are sure she would like?
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#3 of 9 Old 11-11-2005, 10:19 PM
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ebay and sales. I can tell you my daughter (3-1/2) plays with most:

large blocks
small animals & her barn. She loves imagination toys.
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#4 of 9 Old 11-11-2005, 11:55 PM
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After holding one of my own this summer I can say try looking for garage sales. We put out a lot of our kids' old toys, even a battery-powered ride-in car that needed a new battery. Legos are great because they last forever, it seems. Our 7 year old will still play with the duplos. We got two sets for Christmas a few years ago and they have stood the test of time through three kids. Target has some fairly inexpensive wooden blocks that are pulled out around here too.

If you're on a REALLY tight budget, you could just get scrap lumber, have it cut into various block sizes and sand it really well.

The classifieds can also hold some excellent deals. We got a Little Tykes car and slide one year for $15 for both.
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#5 of 9 Old 11-12-2005, 12:42 AM
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It sounds like you are doing pretty well. Is your daughter bored and asking for toys? We have so many that never get pulled out and played with..... My son (28 months) is more interested in doing what I'm doing. So I let him cut veggies with a plastic knife when I cook, help clean with a rag, rake with a full size rake, dig in the garden with me, etc. I think during late toddlerhood children are so into doing what their role models do that tons of toys aren't needed. For instance, no need for play kitchen stuff when you have real kitchen things to use. I think it is possible to make do with a lot of things around the house without buying actual toys.

If you are looking for more for your daughter have you considered out of hte house activities, like parks, story time, visting stores that have train tables, free concerts, etc.?

I agree with other posters that thrift stores and garage sales are great - you just have to find the right place/time and can pick up some really good deals.
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#6 of 9 Old 11-13-2005, 03:40 AM
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I really want to make collage magnets. You need old magazines, interesting textured paper, fabric, fake fur, old greeting cards, tin foil, peeled corrugated cardboard or whatever you think of, and you need some of that magnetic sheet stuff with sticky on one side. Michael's has it for $10.50 for a 1x 2 foot sheet, which could be shared with a friend. All you do is cut interesting shapes and attach the interesting stuff. If you think the sticky isn't tough enough (and it has held up pretty well in my experience) you can use some Mod Podge to shellac it on, but I probably won't bother. If you cut the pieces with straight edges, the kids can fit them together on a magnetic surface (like the fridge) and make collage art. It's pretty fun stuff. I'm thinking of making some for gifts for adult friends!
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#7 of 9 Old 11-13-2005, 09:51 AM
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Ask on Freecycle!! My favorite way to get things like that. It is amazing what you can get. I am someone that does not like to try and sell my big sets and whatnot for $25 because of shipping. If someone wants them, I would rather they pick it up on my porch.

BTW, I am moving this to Frugal Living where you will get great ideas.
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#8 of 9 Old 11-13-2005, 05:37 PM
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I would say, garage sales.

I would also say, one set of building stuff is fine: we have trains (building tracks), wooden blocks, legos (big and little), Lincoln Logs, and other stuff. These things get rotated, but when we only had Legos (duplos) they got played with all the time.

We have 3 kids, so they do all get played with over a week or two.
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#9 of 9 Old 11-13-2005, 08:26 PM
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DH is really good at this. He is always finding things to stack and build with our DD. They have used hair curlers (sp) they have used cans (if you get some cans that don't have sharp edges you can paint them up with letters or numbers or animals- or even use stickers. Speaking of stickers, get a bunch of cheap stickers. They love to decorate cheap frames or paper. Back to stacking- you can go to home depot or lowes or something like that- and they will cut blocks down to size for you if you know what sizes you want- all you pay for is the wood. I love this age (1-5) because they don't really understand things like $$ gifts, last year when DD was 1 we got her things for her hair, a few clothes and some blocks- she was jazzed!

You can also get a shallow bucket or bin full of rice or some other type of grain or bean and give her things to play with in it. Easy to suck up if it gets on the floor and loads of fun for her.

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