Flash cards, puzzle pieces, and books… all learning tools, but all very vulnerable to destruction and getting lost. While I am not a mom who sees flashcards as wonderful in the traditional sense, I think the are great tools for matching and other games and fun. However, my daughter LOVES to chew on them just to pass time. So, in effort to reduce our environmental impact, I started brainstorming ways that I can utilize toys and flashcards in a better manner.
If you are new around here, let me just let you know that my primary goal is finding alternative ways to educate my children in a more natural or “native” way. This means not being wasteful and reducing supplies used, reusing and re-purposing items for crafts and learning, and so much more!
I come across so many stray toys and learning tools while in thrift shops and at garage sales. They are usually marked way down because of missing pieces or being torn up in some way. Therefore, finding uses for these toys saves resources and money!
Puzzle pieces make great items to trace!
In true, eco-friendly fashion, tracing can be done on a variety of surfaces beyond paper. From finding an old picture frame, to glass doors, windows, and mirrors, and even chalkboards! I highly recommend Crayola’s Dry Erase Colored Pencils. They are easy to sharpen, write clearly on glass and other dry-erase friendly surfaces, AND they encourage a precise pincer grasp. Plus, they are more eco-friendly than ink-filled plastic markers (and less mess!). Similarly, if you use chalk, I recommend getting a refillable chalk pencil. (Totally worth getting for less mess).
Flash Cards can be used in picture frames or busy bags for learning!
Again with the picture frame idea or even one of those plastic busy bags for pencils, this is an easy on-the-go activity as well. Protecting the flashcards without having to laminate all them is such a great option to maximize their lives!
You can do this for activities like Montessori encourages sandpaper tracing of letters and numbers. In fact, you could create a binder with 4×6 photo sleeves of all of the flashcards you want to use for tracing and learning. This makes a great car activity for older toddlers and kids. Dry-erase pencils can be kept inside the bag or binder for easy storage.
Torn up books can be used to identify words, punctuation, etc. or to create new sentences.
Instead of just tossing those books that get torn up, use them as learning tools. Paper books are prime candidates for this idea. You can cut out individual words to rearrange for early word combinations. Pages can be used to highlight key parts of a sentence (i.e. “highlight punctuation marks”).
In conclusion, don’t give up on your damaged toys! They still have so much potential for fun and learning.
Check out ways to start Replacing Missing Puzzle Pieces for more ideas on how to give old toys new life.
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!