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Kids’ Bath Toys from Recycled Items

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I don’t know exactly when my commitment to recycling started, but I do know that it’s been an important facet of my entire adult life. If you hang around Organized 31 much, you know how many repurposing projects I do. I love the creative challenge of repurposing items, but also it’s just the right thing to do for our earth. It’s always been important to me to teach my children to care for the earth by repurposing and recycling.  I’ve focused on teaching them in fun ways like making kids’ bath toys from recycled items, so repurposing and recycling have always been a natural normal part of our lives.  Since water play provides children with critical learning and developmental opportunities, it’s a win-win opportunity with kids’ bath toys made from recycled items. 

pink basket  holding plastic bottles, yellow washcloth on top of purple towel next to bathtub

As the mom of three and a parent educator, I’m a big fan of water play for fun and to encourage child development and learning. As a parent educator, I’ve taught classes and wrote an article on teaching children the importance of recycling and repurposing (unfortunately, the article isn’t currently available online).  When I can combine my interest in encouraging learning and child development with my commitment to teaching children to recycle and repurpose, I’m a happy parent educator mom. 

Please always ensure your child’s safety. Water play is a rich learning resource, but can also be dangerous if children are left unsupervised even for a few seconds. Also, please supervise your child so that they don’t put small items that are a choking hazard in their mouth. 

stack of different plastic containers and box of bandages on white table

There are so many different containers that you already have around your house as a free resource that you can repurpose for water play. Look beyond the obvious round or square plastic container and look for containers that your child can pour from and squeeze and scoop with. Of course, travel sized containers are always a hit with children. Not only are they the right size for their hands, but they’re just so cute when they’re tiny containers.  In minutes, I found the following containers around my house: sparkling water bottles in a variety of sizes, a lunch meat container, a berry container, the lid to a can of hairspray, a squeezable lotion bottle, a squeezable sunscreen bottle, small travel sized bottles and a cardboard a kid-friendly cardboard box. 

Kids’ Bath Toys from Recycled Items

Look for containers that will provide different learning and developmental opportunities.

  • Open-mouth containers for scooping and pouring into.
  • Containers with a smaller spout for pouring from.
  • Containers that will work as strainers, like a berry container.
  • Squeeze containers to develop muscles.
  • Containers with lids to remove to develop fine-motor skills.
  • Different sized containers to teach the concept of conservation (the idea that the amount of a substance remains the same whether it’s placed in different sized containers). 
  • Containers that will float and others that will sink.
  • Containers made of different materials, such as soft plastic, hard plastic and cardboard. 

Be sure to wash all containers well. 

overhead view of different bottles cut open and pair of scissors on table

Look for ways to adapt containers for water play. You can remove the top from a squeeze tube or cut a plastic bottle in half so that they’re both easier to scoop with. Be sure to check for sharp or pointy edges. You can always use sand paper or even a nail file to smooth out rough edges. 

Why Water Play is Beneficial for Children

It’s fun. Making learning fun should be our goal. Kids will enjoy learning, remember concepts better and want to learn more when learning is fun. 

It’s stimulates children’s senses. Children feel wet, dry, warm and cold just by touching the water. They will also feel different sensation by pouring water, dripping water, swirling water and dumping water. They’ll feel different weights between empty containers and containers filled with water. 

2 photos of hands holding bottle and spraying water into lid holding small rubber duck over bathtub

It encourages physical development. Children learn to hold different containers securely and learn to flip lids open or twist lids on and off. It encourages hand-eye coordination through pouring and scooping.  Gross motor skills are developed through lifting and pouring with large containers, while fine motor skills are developed through the manipulation of smaller containers and lids. 

It develops problem solving skills. Children learn how to hold containers upright so the water doesn’t spill and that different shaped containers require different strategies. They learn that some items float and some sink regardless of size (some big items float and some small items sink). 

It develops early math concepts. Water play teaches the ideas of more and less. It teaches the idea of conservation; if you pour the water from a tall skinny container into a short wide container, you still have the same amount of water.

pink basket with bottles and purple towel next to bath tub

Encourages creative development. Just watch your child’s imagination flourish as they play with water.  They can be a scientist. They can cook. They can be a pirate. They can be on desert island. The creative options are endless.

Using repurposed items for kids’ bath toys is great when you travel because you can simply recycle them and have room for souvenirs on the way home. As a military family who moves every one to three years, I’ve also found that using recyclable items for bath toys when we were moving made life so much easier. It was no problem if we lost a toy or two during the move and the “new” toys were exciting for the kids. 

overhead view of bottles in pink basket with purple town and yellow rubber duck

Once you’re done with the kids’ bath toys or have other personal care products to recycle, teach your children to recycle these items so that together we can create a healthy earth for our children and future generations.  Often families don’t think to recycle the packaging from personal care items used in the bathroom and are surprised at how many items can be recycled. A 2016 consumer survey on in-home recycling habits found that 34% of regular recylers admit it never occurred to them to recycle in the bathroom.  Care To Recycle® from the Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies has the goal of raising awareness of the importance of recycling personal care products often used in the bathroom. The more you know about what’s recyclable, the more likely you are to do recycle. For tips and tools to become a better recycler, visit Care To Recycle®.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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5 Comments

  1. I think some of my favorite times with my daughter when she was little was bath time. Kids just love to play in the water and I love that they get clean at the same time! Now, getting them in the PJ’s after a bath was difficult at times!

    1. lol, Cynthia. Somehow I’d forgotten how hard it was to get them out of the water. I just remember all the joy playing in the water.

  2. I used to put my kids in the tub for water play even when they didn’t need a bath! Sometimes, tub time was the perfect way to sooth a cracky child. Our tub toys looked just like yours.

  3. Bath time is so much fun when we have the Grandchildren. All three have such fun in the tub and the baby will adore these “toys”.

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