However, no matter how you come by things for your children, whether you spend the money or someone else does, it's inevitable that some days all your kids want to play with is the remote control, the pots and pans, and the coasters sitting on the coffee table. I think my boys knew at an early age which items were "toys" and which items were "grown-up things" that mommy and daddy would use, and thus held more fascination. So I try to let them play with as many "grown-up things" as I can around the house, or I try to recycle household items into toys. One of my absolute favorite sites for inspiration is The Imagination Tree. I got the following ideas for homemade toys from this very creative mother of three.
First I made a "discovery bottle" for the twins, following her recipe. I would recommend using a bottle with a very tight, sturdy cap, and adding tape around it, as I did, since you definitely don't want children to be able to open the cap and eat the contents.
Inspired by this idea in general, I made two more types of bottles for the boys. One is simply rice poured into a washed out juice bottle. The others are made with washed out parmesan cheese shakers, filled with washed caps from beverages and baby food that I saved. For those I also taped the lids shut.
One more thing I made for the boys is a tissue-box toy. When I first introduced it, they didn't understand and had no interest in it. A few months later I noticed that every time they got their hands on a wipes box, they would instinctively begin to pull out wipe after wipe with glee! So I pulled out the tissue-box with fabric squares again, and now it's a hit. The Imagination Tree calls it a material box.