DIY Loose Part for Play

A few weeks ago Jaxon began wandering throughout the house gathering random items for his “inventions”. I loved observing his creative play with all of these objects and it really encouraged me to look for more ways to incorporate creative, independent play into our routine. 


All of the incredible play accounts that I follow on social media have these adorable little wooden, open ended toys. So, of course, my first reaction was to look those up and order some.


Yes, these toys are gorgeous and help reduce plastic waste but…. they are EXPENSIVE
As much as I wanted them, it just didn’t seem reasonable or budgetable to order them all.


But that didn’t stop me! I started researching ways to “DIY” these adorable little play items and I am so happy that I did!
These turned out so well and Jaxon absolutely ADORES playing with them!

I started by finding the wooden pieces. I was luckily able to find most of them at Hobby Lobby and even BETTER, they were on sale!
But if you don’t have a Hobby Lobby near you, I also found them on Amazon! 

These wooden “peg people” are great for imaginative play and come in a variety of sizes. 

I wanted to incorporate some “fine motor skills” so I found these large beads + a shoelace so that he could practice threading the beads! I opted for really large beads to reduce the likelihood of these being a choking hazard but I HIGHLY recommend these being played with only under adult supervision. 


The rings and balls were also a huge hit!
After gathering all the shapes and sizes that I wanted, my next step was painting them.

We already have a wooden rainbow arch so I wanted to use those same colors with these to keep a consistent look. 

Check out our Wooden Rainbow for under $15 here.
If you have a litte who is still mouthing items or a toddler who still seems to chew on everything (ugh, teething, you suck) I recommend leaving the wood unpainted. The plain wood is still really cute but most importantly, non-toxic!

I experimented with a few different types of paint.
Wood dye is super expensive so that was ruled out in the beginning.I have seen others use water + food coloring to dye them but the color was too faint & I couldn’t seem to mix the colors to match what I wanted.


Next, I tried a go at watercolors but again the color was too faint and I had to do several layers to get what I wanted.

Finally, I landed on acrylic paints that were slightly watered down! This allowed for the wood grain to show through underneath but only required one layer of paint. A win-win in my book!

If you don’t like the wooden grain showing through, I recommend painting them with a white base coat before adding color. 

The colors I ended up using are:

  • Apple Barrel 20740E Parakeet (Green)
  • Apple Barrel 20513E Bright Yellow (Yellow)
  • Apple Barrel 20589E Harvest Orange (Orange)
  • Apple Barrel 21958E Candy Apple (Red)
  • Apple Barrel 20594E Royal Violet (Purple)
  • Apple Barrel 21892E Award Blue (Blue)

Open, imaginative play can be an amazing addition to your child’s routine! Boredom shouldn’t be feared, it should be embraced. Because out of boredom, creativity is born. Have fun playing! 


Published by snackswithjax

Sarah is the creator and mom behind "Snacks with Jax", a social media community of over 85,000 parents/caregivers, where she shares her son's meals, nutrition information, and evidence-based tips for feeding children. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist with a Bachelor's degree in Nutrition emphasizing in Wellness from Texas Woman's University and years of experience as a culinary instructor working with ages 2+. She has coached hundreds of parents & caregivers through the journey introducing solids to babies and also navigating picky eating with toddlers and older children. Her focus is on establishing a life-long healthy relationship with food for children while also empowering, encouraging, and educating their adult caregivers.

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