17 Simple DIY Projects that Replace Store-bought Items

It’s almost that time again. Don’t panic, moms! You can and WILL get through that incredibly scary time known as... Summer Vacation! *dun dun dun!* After a whole school term of having them in class, suddenly trying to think of something to do all summer that does not involve TV can be pretty tiring, not to mention expensive! Have you seen how much some of these kids toys costs now? It’s crazy!

But, fear not! BabyGaga is here to save the day! We have some DIY projects to wash the blues away this summer, and give you some fun ideas to do with the kids! So, bookmark this page, ladies and gentlemen, you’re going to want to have these ideas for later. Instructions for each DIY project are linked in each description, so don’t worry, you don’t even have to google it yourself! Get yourself a shopping list, get what you need, and let’s get messy!

17 Play Dough

Of all the things you’ll buy for your little one, play dough is going to be one of the things that you’re going to be pulling from their mouths the most often. Kids can mistake the stuff you get from the store as ‘edible’, and who can blame them... with ice cream and pizza play sets, it’s practically begging kids to take a bite from it, only to be disappointed in the end. But, this is actually one of the easier DIY projects that you can make. All you need is water, flour, cooking oil, salt, and the optional food coloring and/or glitter, and you can make this at home.

16 Calming Glitter Jar

Parents of special needs children may recognize this item all too well. Calming bottles or jars can be bought, and they generally have large and small glitters in a water or oil suspension. You shake it, hand it to the child, and they focus on the swirling glitters and breathe, calming themselves down. This is a simple, easy DIY project, all you need is a bottle or jar, glitter (lots of it), water, and some super glue. Take the lid off the bottle, and fill it with the water and glitter, you can even add large chunky glitter in moon or stars shapes or hearts, whatever you want. Then super glue the cap back onto the bottle once full. Easy and cheap calming bottle. You can never have enough of them.

15 Sand Box

Who didn’t love playing in the sand box as a child? It was like being on the beach, without having to travel to the beach! You could bury things and then actually find them later on! All you need for a good time is a bucket and shovel, and you could make as many castles and moats as you wanted, as long as you had enough sand. Buying a sand box is pricey though. Who has 300 dollars to drop on a sand box? You have a ton of options for making one, but one of the cheapest options is also one of the easiest! Take a cheap plastic mini pool, fill it with play sand, and voila! If you need to cover it, a cheap tarp is perfect to keep water and animals out!

14 Slime

It’s gooey, oozy, and is oh so fun to squish up! Slime is one of those things that you CAN get in stores, but it may not look just like you want it to look, or may not have the right texture. If you’re wanting something similar or the same as what you get in the store, then DIY Slime may be the thing for you! All you need is clear glitter glue, liquid starch, food coloring, and some optional acrylic paints and glitters. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and you have a fun little project that is as interesting and educational as it is amusing!

13 Sensory Table

Sensory tables are great for helping toddlers and preschoolers to learn about various things. You can put water in them and floating toys, you can add sand and bury some things for them to uncover, or you can even put in lights, prisms, and black paper, and learn about how you can bend light. That being said, they’re also expensive to buy. But, with this one DIY, you can make a sensory table for the grand total of about 30 dollars! You’ll need the following tools: a saw, a mitre box, a tape measure, and a marker. You will also need: a 28 qt storage box, 3/4” x 5 feet PVC pipes, 3/4” PVC side outlet elbows.3 way connectors, 3/4” PVC tees, and 3/4” PVC elbows. It’s a very hands-on project, but it’s totally worth it!

12 Kaleidoscope Rice

We all know how it can be to be stuck in the house, rain pouring down on the windows, with nothing to do but pout. It’s hard to find projects that are engaging to a small, bored child. Kaleidoscope rice is a cheap, easy, and fun little mind-engaging DIY project that can give your child hours of entertainment, and engages them in sensory play! All you need is uncooked rice, food coloring, white vinegar, and ziploc bags! Add the color and vinegar mix to a ziploc bag with rice, let it dry, and you have a great little sensory project!

11 Finger Paints

Who doesn’t love to paint?? It’s a fun way to learn about colors and mixing, it’s a fun way to spend time together... all in all, it’s just fun! But paints run out, and then buying more and more... it can get expensive. But, with this DIY, you can make paints that are 100% edible, so they’re safe, all with items you probably have in your house. All you need is flour, sugar, salt, food coloring, and cups to mix it in. You have to let it cool off completely before allowing your toddler to play with it, but it’s totally worth it, and way better than paints full of random chemicals!

10 Egg Geodes

Who doesn’t like to let their kids learn while they’re having a good time? I know my kids love crystals, and letting them how to grow their own is always something they enjoy! With this DIY, you can grow your own crystals in blown out egg shells. The only ingredient you may have issues finding at an affordable price is the Alum. You’ll need empty egg shells, scissors, glue, a paint brush, Alum, plastic or glass cups, easter egg dyes, very hot water, a bowl that can hold 2-3 cups of liquid, a spoon, rubber gloves, and paper towels. This DIY is more complicated, but it’s totally worth it!

9 Crayons

Ok, so this one isn’t making it all on your own, but it is giving your crayons a new life. We’ve all seen it, as kids and parents... You’re coloring, then POP! Crayon is broken. And after a while, there’s not enough left to save... Or IS there? With this DIY, you can extend the life of your old crayons. All you need is an oven, mini muffin pan, all the broken crayons you can find, oven mitts, a refrigerator, and a dish towel. Put the broken crayons in the muffin tins, and heat in the oven. Voila! New life for old crayons!

8 Bean-Bag Chair

Who doesn’t like a good bean bag chair to relax in? Bean bag chairs can be useful in particular to kids who have sensory processing disorder, as they sometimes get more comfortable in a chair like this. But, you don’t have to have SPD to enjoy this chair. And with this DIY, you can make one yourself, and in 30 minutes. All you need is 2 pieces of fabric, one 22” zipper, and 3.5 cubic feet of bean bag filling. It’s quick, easy, and doesn’t even take someone who is super crafty to make it. It may take longer if you aren’t a fast sewer, but if you have a sewing machine, it may go a bit faster. And it’s always nice to have custom furniture!

7 Chalk

Writing on the sidewalk is always a fun activity, but that chalk breaks so easy, and you have to keep buying it because it seems to vanish like someone’s eating it...and what if you can’t get the colors you want? This DIY will give you a firm, yet not brittle, quick drying chalk! You’ll need tempera paints, plaster of paris, water, wrapping paper or paper towel tubes, wax paper, masking tape, sandwich bags, and scissors. This project is super easy, fairly cheap, and makes durable, useful chalks that you can control the color of!

6 Sponge Water Bombs

Who else hates to clean up the left over balloon rubber off the ground after a good water balloon fight, but LOVES to play with the water balloons? My kids love water balloons, but the clean up is a nightmare half the time, plus the balloons often break when being filled up, leaving you soaked before even getting to play. All you need for this DIY alternative to water balloons, are sponges, rubber bands, and scissors. The whole project can cost as little as 8 dollars, which is pretty awesome during this day and age. It’s well worth the hours of enjoyment your kids will have with them.

5 Puffy Paint

Well, as fun as regular paints are, there’s just something about puffy paints that are so satisfying to work with and paint with... it’s just fun to play with foam. Admit it, as a kid, you had a fascination with foam and shaving creams, it’s just amusing to squish and play with. These DIY puffy paints only have 3 ingredients. All you need is shaving cream, craft/school glue, and food coloring. Mix the ingredients in a ziplock bag, and then use the bag like a piping bag to paint the puffy paint on the paper. Watch your little Picasso as they make beautiful works of art!

4 Water Wall

Pool noodles... the bane of every parent who has a pool’s existence. If they’re not being used as floppy light sabers, they’re left all over the place... bugs hide in them, they smell... but, they can have another fun use other than just a pool toy! For this DIY, you’ll need pool noodles, zip ties, a peg board, and some funnels. You can make the pool noodle water wall however you like, make whatever pattern you want! And once you’ve figured out how you want it to look, use the zip ties to attach the noodles to the peg board. It’s really that simple!

3 Car Play Mat

If you have a child who loves cars, then you know that they almost always want something to drive them on. But those little carpet play mats are expensive, and they get filthy pretty quickly. But, you can actually make the same thing at home, and it’s fully able to he customized. And all you need for this DIY are various colors of tape and a hard wood floor. You can do it on carpet, but it may not last as long. You put the tape down in the shape of a race track, buildings, a parking lot... let your imagination run wild. And if they get bored, all you need to do is pull it up and make a whole new city!

2 Bubble Wand

Who hasn’t lost a bubble wand? I ask you this, because it happens all the time in my house. By the time we find them, they’re filthy. You can actually make new ones, though, and in any shape you like almost. All you need for these DIY wands is some straight straws, pipe cleaners, Bubble solution, and a tall tupperware container. The DIY instructions actually show you how to go one step further and make 3D Bubbles!! How awesome is that?! And with the supplies needed, it’s actually really cheap to make and play with! And who doesn’t like bubbles?

1 Fairy Dough

Very similar to the first play dough recipe on here, the main difference is the texture of the dough. For some kids who have problems with some textures, this could give them something to play with that is far better for them. All you need for this DIY is some cornflour or cornstarch, conditioner (strawberry scented is awesome!), and pink food coloring. It’s supposed to be a bit more silky and stretchy than regular play dough, and it’s easy to tweak to a more pleasing and fun texture. When in doubt, ask the little one what they think

With all these activities, you’ll be busy all summer! And the kids will love them! It will inspire them to do something creative, allow them to learn while playing, and is even fun! They won’t want to stop and put the end results down! Have a great summer break, everyone! We hope it’s filled with fun, creativity, learning, and hours of enjoyment!

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