Gardening with Kids: Create Planters out of Toys
Upcycle toys by creating a planter for flowers or herbs! Get the kids involved and dig through the toy bin for a toy they no longer play with that can be repurposed into a planter. This is a great idea for children who have a difficult time getting rid old favorite toys they no longer play with. Kids will enjoy expressing their independence by caring for the flowers, and it’s a fun way to teach responsibility.
Every few months, we go through my son’s toys and donate the ones he no longer plays with, are broken, or have missing parts. We try to follow the minimalist theory when it comes to toys, so he typically doesn’t have a ton of them. Too many toys becomes overwhelming and we stick to keeping the ones he actually plays with and loves.
Sometimes, there are toys either he or I do not want to part with regardless. For me, these are usually his wooden toys. I love wooden toys because they are typically high quality and beautiful. When we went through his toys after the holidays, I set aside his Melissa & Doug toolbox with plans of somehow upcycling it. As my mind turned to gardening when the weather warmed up, it hit me – we could repurpose it into a flower planter that my son tends to! I pulled inspiration from this “Upcycle Dinosaur Toys” segment on a talk show.
My son is 2.5 years old and loves outdoor play and tending to plants, so this is the perfect project to work on. It also allows him express his independence by having his own little garden that he is responsible for.
This can be done with any toy that can work as a container and hold soil – not just wooden toys. Examples include: dump trucks, beach buckets, Jack in the Box, and any type of wooden box that toys or blocks come in. Look around and tap into your creative side!
How to: Upcycle Toys into Planters
1. First, you will need to create drainage holes. Using a drill and a drill bit (I used a 1/4 inch drill bit), create a few holes on the bottom of your repurposed toy planter.
2. If you’re working with a wooden toy, you will need to use a sealant to prevent sun and moisture damage. Making homemade wood sealant is pretty simple! All you need are two common kitchen ingredients. (Working with a plastic toy? Skip right down to step three.)
- 6 tablespoons of canola oil
- 2 tablespoons of vinegar
- Mix together the oil and vinegar.
- Rub the mixture onto the wood with a cloth.
- Let sit for 24 hours before planting.
3. Add a small layer of rocks in the upcycled planter to allow for proper drainage.
4. Fill the planter with potting soil and flowers (or whatever you decide to plant!)
My son chose snapdragons – which grow pretty tall, so we may end up back at the nursery to choose new flowers and re-plant the snapdragons into the ground. He loves planting and playing in the dirt, so I’m sure he won’t mind at all.
It really could not be any simpler to make planters out of old toys – and it’s such a fun way to garden with kids and get them interested in growing flowers or vegetables!
Do your kids like to garden and tend to plants? What is their favorite thing to do in the garden? Let me know in a comment!