In Elementary

Toys |
Toys |

‘Tis the season to hustle! Does this sound familiar: The kids are on winter break & you spend all afternoon either on conference calls, running errands, shuttling to/from playdates, or squeezing in some last minute shopping. You barely make it in the door when your feet are ambushed by a miniature but very elite tactical regiment of US Army Rangers. Or are those Legos? Determining for sure would require some sort of visual identification, which is not possible at the moment, given that you’re lugging twelve bags of groceries that are blocking your line of sight. No, that definitely feels like a rifle jammed between your toes.

So what to do with the family’s surplus of broken toys caught underfoot? Before you dismiss them to the trash, consider this creative option for giving them new life!

We are in love with these upcycle toy sculptures created by artists Robert Bradford and Rondle Royce West. Their ability to take the cast-off remains of what were once well-loved toys and twist them into new artistic compositions brings joy to kids and parents alike!

Robert Bradford


You Need:

  • Box of broken or old toys
  • Wood or cardboard base
  • Hot glue gun
  • Spray paint (optional)

How To Do It

Quite simply, glue away! This is a fun family activity for a school holiday or snow day, particularly considering the potential negative results when first graders use a hot glue gun unsupervised. Whether you want to create a representational sculpture of Fido, the family dog – or a chaotic assemblage that represents the playroom floor (or what more accurately might feel like the inside of your brain after Christmas shopping) both are fantastically fun! You can always spray paint the entire sculpture for a bit of unity once glued together and dry.

Now here is the challenging part, which hopefully isn’t akin to pulling teeth: sorting the toys! What once seemed impossible might be easier after Santa marches in a new brigade of Special Forces on Christmas. Here’s the plan of attack:

1. Create three boxes or bags labeled as follows:

“Give” – anything that isn’t regularly played with or isn’t desired anymore (be sure to explain who will be helped by this box!)

“Create”broken and dead toys that aren’t “donate worthy” – as well as token toys from kids meals (show them the pictures of work by our influence artists to help get excited and visualize what could be created!)

“Trash”other items that aren’t “nice enough” for another child, gum wrappers, etc.

DON’T create a “Keep” box – tell them to put the keepers away immediately!

2. Challenge your kids to fill each box to the brim. Entice them with an incentive of your choosing if they do so (their choice for family dinner or movie night, etc!)

3. Sorting through their toys is a great challenge for your kids to be learn about stewarding their resources, to learn the joy of #sharingcheer by donating their formerly well loved toys to other kids in need, and to see the value of taking what was once old and turning it into something new! Turn it into a game and see how much they can sort during one batch of TV commercials or their favorite song!

4. Make sure they really put the “keepers” away, and together as a family drop off the “donation” box.

5. For the GRAND FINALE, your kids can begin designing and building their upcycle toy masterpieces!

Upcycle away and enjoy the holidays – we sure are!

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