15 DIY Non-Toys for Toddlers

Here are 15 DIY non-toys for toddlers which are so simple to make and so engaging to play with! Sensory play, fine motor skills, cause and effect, curiosity and investigation skills are all encouraged through these non-toys, and most are cost-free to put together.15 DIY non-toys for toddlers


We all know that our toddlers and preschoolers love the bright, flashy toys that are marketed so widely in all of the shops, but having only one or two simple functions they quickly tire of them and they accumulate into a pile, hardly to be touched again. There are so many things I regret buying our children over the years and as time has gone on I have pulled out less and less “real” toys for the new babies in our family from the attic, and been amazed at how much they prefer the homemade variety.

What I love most about making “non-toys” or DIY versions of games, is that most can be put together using recycled items, therefore costing next to nothing, and can take just a few minutes to do. Yet the appeal of them seems to last a lot longer and some have been played with for a few years before wearing out. The best part is, they don’t need batteries to operate and are nice and quiet!

Here are 15 of our favourites from over the years, although there are many more in the archives too!

Click the title of each photo to go and read the full instructions (all on this same blog):

Treasure Baskets


Material Pull Box

Material Pull Box

Pom pom drop and shoot game


Milk Jug Drop

Milk jug drop

Crawl through sensory tunnel


Fine motor dropping, tugging and rolling toys


Giant threading and stacking beadsToddler-threading-activity-with-giant-cardboard-beads-666x1000

Discovery bottles to explore sounds and sightsdiscovery+bottles

Stacking rings


Sorting and dropping coloured pom pomsColour-sorting-pom-pom-drop-game-for-preschoolers-666x1000

Building sculptures with velcro rollers Baby-playing-with-hair-rollers-666x1000

Chalkboard table for drawing and mark makingindoor+chalkboard+table

Simple light box


 Build bean chutes with tubes

beans and tubes

 Make connections with pipe cleaners and colanderspipe cleaners


Have you got some more favourites you have made that you would add to this list?

Want more toddler play ideas? Search the archives here for inspiration!


  1. Simone says

    Hi there, I love the light box idea! so simple and so effective. Can you tell me the dimensions of the box you used? Many thanks Simone :)