Archive for the ‘toys’ Category

What’s ON your refrigerator?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

I think of my refrigerator as a giant bulletin board.  I have a calendar affixed with magnets.  Usually there is the beginning of a grocery list or the reminder – DENTIST 7:50AM Tuesday.  Eeks.

That formerly was the “decor” of the frig.  Then the craze for magnetic refrigerator poetry came upon us.  Since I am a gardener, someone gave me flower poetry.

I found this rather difficult to use – shuffling through the box trying to locate an ‘s’ for a plural or an ‘ed’ to make a verb past tense.  I never succeeded in writing a poem.  I felt fulfilled if I could paste a sentence on the frig.

Later someone gave me a set of Italian refrigerator poetry.  I was preparing for a trip to Italy.  I found that helpful to put some words on the frig and then review them as I did the daily openings and closings.  Alas, that set is buried somewhere in the basement.  And that is unfortunate since my granddaughter is learning some Italian and would have use for it.  HOWEVER, we learned upon my last visit to her house that her refrigerator door in NOT magnetic.  Perhaps that is the trend with new appliances.  My appliances are past their prime.

As grandchildren came along, I started putting the latest pic of each on the frig to give me a morning smile or warm feeling.  Then followed the works of art.

I enjoy seeing the pictures and the momentos and the letters from my grandchildren.  One does wonder how long to keep these items up.  That train that I love has been on my frig for years.  It is a real keeper.

When my older granddaughter was about 3, I came upon a magnetic ‘paper’  doll that she could dress when she sat on the floor as I did the dishes.  This set has gone through two granddaughters and is in good shape for future users.

The girls have enjoyed dressing the girl for the beach and dance class and bed.  This is called Dowling Magnets Wonder Board Dress a Doll and is available at

If you have read many of my blogs, you will recall that I have a squirrel named Andrew Henry that I dutifully feed each day. I introduced Andrew Henry in a blog post on 2/16/2011.  When the grandchildren visit, he gets more peanuts and more corn that any squirrel needs, but Andrew Henry happily eats it all.

A few months ago I saw something that I decided just ‘had’ to grace the front of my refrigerator so I bought it.

It is a squirrel that comes with changeable outfits – all magnetic.  The squirrel can be a hippie, a Zorro look-alike, a cowboy, a pilot, Santa, or St. Patrick.  I confess I have so much fun changing his outfits.  My grandchildren like him too.  Today my grandson decided to make him half cowboy, half pilot.

My sons haven’t rolled their eyes – yet anyway – about Mom and her new squirrel.

Thank you for visiting Grandma in the Mailbox.  Next week I will give you a yummy recipe for vegan snickerdoodles.  My taste testers who live 3 hours away have given the recipe 4 thumbs up.

Hope you stop by again to visit.

Making a List and Checking It Twice

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Making a list and checking it twice.   In “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” we hear that this is what Santa is doing.  Well, we know that grandparents are doing it also.  What do I still need to buy?  Do I have three presents for each child?  It is so much fun getting ready for Christmas and anticipating the smiles and excitement on the faces of your grandchildren when they open their gifts.

Last year I first started seeing spyware and Spy Gear in the toy catalogs.  Looked like fun to me, but would my son want me to turn his daughter into a spy?  Hm, maybe not, BUT she could be a detective.

A detective needs business cards.

The detective agency was called The Detectives. The motto was Look at clues; find the answers.  My granddaughter was Chief Investigator,  and her brother was Assistant Investigator.  I printed the cards on Avery Business Card card stock.  I happened to have two business card cases from my working days so I filled these with cards for the detectives.

Detectives must take notes on the evidence they find and on their interviews.  I bought two reporter’s notebooks at Staples.  On one cover of the notebaook I pasted a portion of the map of their city.  On the other cover I glued one of their business cards.

And now for the spy gear – I mean detective gear.  I bought Rear View Sunglasses.  I couldn’t wait to try them myself.  A mirror on each side allows you to see what’s going on behind you.  I bought pens that write with invisible ink and the Ultimate Spy Watch.  You can hide messages in the spy watch and check the time for any city in the world.  I’m sure there were other functions that I didn’t explore.  And finally I bought Night Goggles.

Here is my granddaughter with her notebook in hand and wearing her Night Goggles as tracks some villain.

Finally I bought a scrapbooking  case so that all of the equipment could be stowed away in one place at the end of play time.

Each time I visit the grandchildren who live 3 hours away, I am told that The Detectives believe I have stolen something.  I must sit down at the dining room table and endure intensive interrogation.  So much fun.

Last year my grandson told me that he wanted a doctor’s kit for Christmas.  I went through catalog after catalog looking for the perfect doctor’s kit.  I found just what I wanted at Learning Resources.  ( This kit has 19 pieces – everything a doctor needs for a thorough check-up.  PLUS it all comes in a plastic suitcase – good for storage after office hours.

I wanted something to add to the kit.  A doctor needs a lab coat, right?  Oh, one with his name on it would be so-oo cool.  Off I went to Google.

I found a great place to shop for  a lab coat – I ordered one complete with my grandson’s name embroidered on the left pocket.

I was on a roll – what about a stethoscope that really works?  Found one at When it arrived, I immediately tried it on myself and on the cat (the real one).

Putting that all together made a really neat gift for my grandson.

By the way is a great website.  This website has toys and books and learning games and is a partner with Montessori Services.  The items are well made and reasonably priced.  After discovering the site last Christmas, I have used it several times for gifts for my grandchildren.

What am I working on for this year?  Can’t tell.  My 9 year old granddaughter is a fan of the blog and reads it whenever she can.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  Next week I’ll tell you about some presents that I have helped my grandchildren make for their parents.  I hope you stop back again.

Grandma School – Learning Time

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

In Grandma School learning took place even when it was not Learning Time.  While the children were watching their morning TV shows, I would do the sudoku puzzle in the newspaper.  My granddaughter came over and asked what I was doing.  She saw that I was writing numbers in squares.  She asked if she could write numbers in the squares.  At that time she was just learning how to write her numbers so this looked like a “teaching moment.”  I would figure out a number and tell her which number should go into what square in the puzzle.  Sometimes she would become impatient while I tried to figure out which number came next.  Practice time for writing numbers and practice time for being patient while Grandma tried to think.

At Learning Time in Grandma School we would all take a chair around the little tikes table.  My grandchildren are a year apart so I would work on different skills with each child.  It was like a one room school with two classrooms at our table.

While I worked on something with one child, the other one would do a worksheet or a coloring page. 

We worked on writing letters and numbers, matching, identifying shapes, rhyming words, same and different, grouping items by size or color and many other primary concepts.  I had sets of plastic numbers and letters that we would use for counting or sorting. 

Variety was important – not the same worksheets or the same counting games each week.  Sometimes the children would surprise me and ask if they could do something next week that they had just done because it was so much fun.

I used websites to obtain free printable materials to use with my grandson and granddaughter.  Some of my favorites were:,,,

If it was Halloween and I wanted a Halloween coloring page, these sites would offer many options.  I found worksheets on matching, on which one doesn’t belong, hidden pictures – just about anything I wanted to work on.

I also purchased some decks of flashcards that we used in Learning Time.

These cards could be used in a variety of ways.  Those above gave the child a choice of “how many” there were.  Others in the deck had only the pictures of trucks or animals and the student then counted how many there were.  On the flip side of these cards there was a number that was the answer.  I would sometimes spread out several cards with only numbers showing and ask for someone to find a 2 or a 9 for me.

Each of these cards shows 6 items.  I would ask my grandchildren which objects were the same and which were different.  Sometimes I would put out an array of 6 cards and ask if anyone could find a green oval or a blue number 6. 

When it was time to put the cards away, we would count them as we put them back into the box.

We also used workbooks that I had purchased at Target – some in the $1 bins and at Barnes and Noble.   There were worksheets on letters, numbers, reading readiness skills and same and different.  Most of the books had perforated pages so I removed the worksheets that I wanted to take each week for Grandma School.  You know how much children love stickers.  Many books had stickers for the children to add  to their worksheets and also stickers for the “teacher” – Grandma – to put on their completed sheet.  Super.  Nice work.  You’re Top Banana.  Purrfect.  A sticker on a worksheet always brought a smile to their faces and a feeling of pride for having done a good job.

From Oriental Trading I purchased a set of Mix and Match Rhymes.  I would spread the puzzles pieces out and my grandchildren would look at the pictures and find two words that rhymed.  Then they would put the puzzles pieces together.  Taking turns led to a more peaceful activity. 

This was the most popular learning game.  I made a fishing pond for us using a small plastic bucket.  The poles were two dowel rods with yarn fishing line and magnets tied on for fishing hooks.  I cut fish out of construction paper and gave each one an eye and a letter that I had cut from a newspaper or magazine.  Paper clips were attached to the mouth of the fish and then they went into the bucket.

My grandchildren would take turn fishing.  Sometimes they would “catch” more than one fish; sometimes they would catch the bucket itself with the magnet locking on to the handle.  They would identify the letter on their fish and if they caught multiple fish, they would count how many.

My grandson often brought a pan from their play kitchen.  We would put our fish into the pan.  Then he and my granddaughter would take the fish into their play kitchen and “cook” them for our lunch.  Time out for pretend play.

As you can see, learning time was a fun part of our school day.

Thank you for visiting.  I’ll continue with Grandma School next trip talking about a few of our favorite craft activities.  I hope you’ll  stop by.

What was I thinking of?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

I like to crow about the great finds and the wonderful retro toys in the playroom.  But there are also some duds – items I have bought thinking they were going to be so great or so much fun.  They turned out not to be either.

Two years ago when I had weekly Grandma School, I was looking for toys that could be used with my 3 year old grandson to help him learn to recognize and identify letters.  I puzzled over several choices and came up with a set of foam alphabet stamps.

I thought these would be perfect.  I could envision the pages that we would stamp with his name and his sister’s name etc.

This little boy was so in love with trains that I was a pushover for another set of stamps in the same catalog.

There were an engine and caboose plus many boxcars with various designs on them.  We could make great freight trains.

The cars were over-sized and the letters were large.  This meant that ordinary stamp pads wouldn’t be large enough so I had to find some over-sized stamp pads.  I found a set of 6 X 5 inch stamp pads with washable ink.  They were pricey, but I bought them.

When the stamps and pads arrived, I wisely decided to try them out myself before I took them for my grandson to use.  I found that you had to press very hard to get a complete image with the letters.  It was almost impossible to get a print from a train stamp with all the details showing.

The pads were so large that I found it was easy to get the heel or side of my hand on the pad when I was working with the stamps. I knew that my grandson’s hands would be covered with ink if he tried to use those pads.  You should have seen my hands after I stamped this sample page above.  I headed to the sink to clean up.

Someone told me that the pads are really useful for handprint activities.  The child presses his hand on the pad and then on a piece of paper.   That would be a good use for the pads and I have seen many creative pictures that started with an ink hand print.

But my plan for stamping letters and trains was not going to work.  Alas, the stamps and the stamp pads did not make it to Grandma School.

Thanks for visiting.  Next trip I’ll tell you all about Grandma School.

Grandma Camp II

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

A few days ago my grandchildren who live 20 minutes away came in to my house for a day of Grandma Camp.  If you have heard about my grandson’s bucket list, I’ll tell you right off.  YES, we did.  We did everything that he patiently listed at the last camp citing these were things that Grandma never let’s us do. 

Played with Play Dough.  He specialized in the production of noodles of various colors.  His sister made a little girl and her dog out of Play Dough.

Played in the sandbox.

Played with water balloons.  I had filled the balloons the afternoon before camp, and I ended up really wet with balloons that broke or spurted off the hose attachment.  It was a hot day so that felt good.

Last item on his list – the game with a 1000 pieces.  Not really.  It is a construction set of gears called Goofy Grins and the box says that it has 118 pieces.  That is more than enough on the playroom floor.  The three of us sat down on the rug and put together a series of gears and got them all running.  Then comes the pick up/clean up.

We did so many more activities.  It was a very busy day.

We stopped at the library and picked up a book to read during snacks and a video to watch during snacks.  Unfortunately the video had problems so that was a short view.  AND we picked up a CD of Pixar songs to listen to in the car and while we were doing camp activities.

With the picnic lunch I had packed, we headed to a neighborhood park where the children enjoyed running, playing, and climbing on the playground equipment.  Then we settled down at a table for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fruit kabobs before heading back to my house.

The children like to put together ingredients for a snack mix. They call it Mix.  We mix it together and use it for a snack.  A bonus for them is that a container of Mix goes home with them.

The ingredients vary each time we make Mix.  The children enjoy measuring and dumping everything into a big mixing bowl.  We used 2 1/2 cups of Cheerios, 1 cup of chocolate Goldfish, 1 cup of pretzels the children broke into smaller pieces, 1 cup of peanut butter/milk chocolate chips, 1 cup of lightly salted dry roasted peanuts.  The children took turns mixing.  I asked my grandson how old he is.  He said 5.   I told him to stir 5 times.  My 7 year old granddaughter asked if she should then stir 7 times.  Right.  Then we sampled.  I asked for suggestions from the chefs.  We put in a couple more Goldfish and a few more peanuts, and it was completed and ready for snack time.

Something new at camp was a science experiment.  I found this at a website just full of ideas for activities with children:

Will it float or sink?  First, I asked the children if they knew what float means.  They had just finished a week of swimming lessons so that was easy.  Then we looked at the 12 items on the list.  Taking turns (so many fewer arguments that way) I asked before we ran the experiment, if they thought the items would float or sink  A comb, a rock, a leaf etc. – you can see the list.  It was rather interesting.  My granddaughter picked up the small sea shell.  She said that sea shells are found under the water in the sand so they do not float.  She also pointed out that anything with air inside will float -like the plastic Easter egg.

We ran the experiment in the kitchen sink full of water.

Good work.  The children had guessed correctly float or sink on all but one item.  That was a small rubber ball that did float.  As they were drying their hands, they asked if we can have another science experiment at the next Grandma Camp.

We heard a knock at the door.  It was a grandma and grandpa coming to see if they could check books out of Grandma’s Library.  The children were so happy to see patrons coming in.  They had processed some new books for the library earlier in the afternoon.

Grandma and Grandpa each checked out two books and were given bookmarks made by one of the librarians.

After the library patrons departed, we decided it was time to rest a bit and sample the Mix.  I read the children the book we had checked out of the library “The Night Before Summer Camp” by Natasha Wing. 

This had been such a busy day. It fairly flew by.  We did fit in another treasure hunt with 6 clues sending them to various rooms in my house and out in the garden before they discovered their hidden treasures which were small notebooks and pens.  (I love those $1 bins at Michaels and at Target.  You can find inexpensive treats for the grandchildren there.)

We had a few minutes for free time before Mommy came for pick up so we sat on the floor and played Barbies.  Even my grandson.  Ken was his doll.  As he played, he dictated a list of  “what we really need to do at the next camp, Grandma. ”  I listened; I remember; we shall do it.

Thanks for the visit.  We will be heading north to the Windy City to see a baseball game in a few days.  I love baseball so I am probably more excited than the children.

Painting the driveway

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Artists at work.

All children love to paint.  Painting can be a messy business – a very messy business.

I have the best painting “smocks” for my grandchildren to use when they paint.  One of their grandfathers gave me several black tee shirts that he no longer wears.  They are in great condition and perfect for the artists to wear.  They have all had fittings.  I put the tee shirts on them and then mark where it comes to their knees.  I then cut the excess off the tee shirt and make a simple belt to snug up the smock on them.  Their clothing is totally covered and protected while they paint.

I found this recipe for sidewalk chalk paint a few years ago at  It is inexpensive and quick to mix up.  All you need is cornstarch, water, food coloring, containers, and brushes.  I use styrofoam bowls.  (Somehow years ago someone gave me dozens of these bowls so I always have a supply for crafts.)  For brushes I use one inch foam brushes – one for each color.  Frequently Michaels has these on sale for 12 for $1.00.  

To make the paint, put 1/4 cup of corn starch into a container.  Add 1/4 cup of  water and stir until the mixture starts to clear.  Add 5-10 drops of food coloring.  Stir and presto, you have paint.  Be sure to put the corn starch into the container FIRST.  If you put the water in first, it will be more difficult to mix up. 

I usually mix a bowl of red, which turns out to be pink, a bowl of yellow, blue, and green.  Typically only two children are painting so they are able to share  the bowls of paint.

I cannot recall what my granddaughter was painting with the pink paint.  A many legged sea monster?

My grandson told me that he was painting Michigan Lake.  The family had just vacationed in Michigan and to him it was Michigan Lake rather than Lake Michigan.  Yellow?  Yes, his favorite color is yellow so many of his pictures feature yellow.

The day that the grandchildren painted with sidewalk chalk paint it was raining on the driveway.  They were actually painting on the front porch.  The paintings they did that morning remained for about a week until we had a really hard rain that washed them off.

Thanks for stopping by.  Grandma Camp II will take place in a few days.  I hope you stop back to see what fun we had.

Oldies, But Goodies in the Playroom

Friday, July 8th, 2011

In March I wrote about toys I had selected for the playroom.  Today I want to tell you about some other toys - toys that my sons and even I played with years ago.  My grandchildren like them, too.  I think they are even more special because they know that “daddy played with this.”

A few are the original toys that the daddies played with; others are retro toys that I have added to the playroom.

Here is the Fisher Price school bus that years ago was a pull toy.  Now it  sometimes carries a bevy of Barbies to a ball.  Other times it is a school bus to deliver children to houses that have been constructed out of blocks.   I have tried to retire the Fisher Price Tick Tock Teaching Clock to the storage chest of outgrown toys.  Each attempt is met with resistance.  Immediately the clock gets wound up by some child – usually more than once.

The Hot Wheels chest is the original one that the daddies received for Christmas many years ago.  There are even a few of their cars from days of old in it.  New cars have been added.  My grandson who lives 20 minutes away often brings in a Hot Wheels race track for the boys to play with when we have a cousin play date.

I bought a can of the authentic wooden Tinker Toys for the grandchildren.  The daddies played and played with the set they had.  Of course, there was frustration when they didn’t have enough pieces to build an item shown in the enclosed instructions.  I have gotten around that problem with the grandchildren.  The enclosure with the suggested projects has “disappeared.”  I suggest to the children that they design their own  tower or vehicle using the pieces they have.  That usually works.

Have you ever played Gnip Gnop?  I have played many a game over the years.  A few years ago I saw this game in a toy catalog and knew I had to buy it.  The daddies spent hours playing Gnip Gnop against each other.  Shouts of victory and tears of defeat and screams of anger used to fill the room when a Gnip Gnop competition was going on.  In case you don’t know this game.  There are three balls on each side.  You attempt to shoot, by pressing the keys,  your ping pong balls through the holes and into the other side before your opponent does.  My grandsons love this game.  They often beat their sisters and even their grandmother.  Shouts of victory again are heard.  I don’t cry when I lose. 

Here is my family of Barbie and Ken dolls.  Notice Ken is wearing his white disco duds and Barbie is in her wedding gown.  I was so lucky to get these dolls and dozens of dresses and accessories from the daughter of a friend.  The dolls and clothes are over 20 years old.  These are clothes with Barbie by Mattel and Skipper by Mattel labels in them.

Since I am a boy-mom, my 8 year old granddaughter taught me how to play with Barbies when she was 5.  She would give me some Barbies and say, “Grandma, these are your girls.  We are going to the beach so dress your girls for the beach.”  I would dutifully sort through the clothes and find appropriate apparel and sun visors for my girls.  Then she would say, “OK, now, Grandma, we are going to the ball.”  Gee, I had just finished getting everyone ready for the beach, but obediently I would search for ball gowns.  Often there was a request that I look for shoes for her girls to wear to the ball.  I smile as I write remembering those fun times sitting on the floor of the playroom together playing Barbies.  The granddaughters play Barbies together when we have a cousin play date.  And once in a while I am summoned to play also or to help get Barbie’s arms into a frock.

Back in the day when I was a young one, my favorite  pasttimes were playing pick up sticks and jacks.  I would sit for hours on the living room floor or the sidewalk in front of my house playing pick up sticks.  My mother made a little draw string bag for me to carry my jacks in.  All the girls had them.  We would take our jacks to school and play outside at recess.  Last winter I saw these new versions of pick up sticks and jacks in a shop and had to buy them. 

Quite a surprise when I opened the pick up sticks.  The old ones were wooden and pointed at each end.  This point helped you to flip sticks up and out of the way to score points.  These, made by Slinky, are plastic and have knobs at each end.  On the can it says that they are safety tested and meet or exceed ASTM F-963.  This is the American Society for Testing and Materials.  One of the requirements of approved toys is that there are no sharp edges.  I assume that is why the knobs replaced the points.  I did sit down on the floor and gave them a try.  It  just wasn’t the same. 

A Google search showed that several manufacturers still make the wooden ones with points.  I definitely am going to look for those.  I’ll brush up on my skills and show the grandchildren how to play.

The jacks that I bought are plastic ones that are oversized.  I have tried them and found that they don’t work as well or perhaps it is I that do not work as well. They are too big to easily scoop up.  I gave the girls sets of jacks.  They looked at them and then at me with a questioning look.  Girls don’t play jacks any more?  I’m going to buy a set of small metal jacks.  I’ll show the girls how much fun it is doing the onesies and twosies.  

I could always start a senior citizen pick up sticks or jacks league.   Yes, I am kidding. 

Thanks for visiting.   In the summer the grandchildren like to “paint” my driveway with chalk paint that I mix up for them.   Check back.  In a few days I’ll give you the recipe.

Moving Day

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

My grandchildren who live 20 minutes away and I had a busy day. 

First, we had to put away the decorations from Easter.  Yes, we are running a little late. New decorations were put up.   Now we are all set with 4th of July decorations in my house.

First, they dressed the cat.  No, not the real cat.

Then they worked on decorations to put in the planter on the clock.

Much concentration was required as they drew flags, pictures of fireworks, and a flower arrangement.  My role was finding the exact color of marker they wanted and stapling the flag poles on the flags.  Again the children wanted to arrange the items in the planter and surprise me when it was finished, and here it is.

We were ready for the long awaited event of the spring – moving toys from the playroom and basement to the sunporch to launch the summer play season.  The children look forward to doing this every year.  My 5 year old grandson takes the lead saying that he has a plan and he will show us where everything goes.  He even offers to carry the heavy things.

Here he is pushing the play kitchen chest to the sunporch.

His older sister is unpacking kitchen equipment.

We brought the tool bench up from downstairs and my grandson organized all the tools while my granddaughter organized the kitchen area.

Work done.  Ready for play dates, cousin visits, sleepovers, Grandma Camp – all the things that make summer so much fun.

The kitchen area complete with a cat seeking a snack or a scratch on the head.

The children love to shoot hoops and also to play handyperson ready to do repairs.

Whew.  We had to take a break and have ice cream cones.  Yum.  Another fun afternoon spent with my grandchildren.  More making memories.

Thanks for visiting.

Earth Day

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Reuse, Recycle!  On Earth Day and every other day of the year we should reuse and recycle to preserve our resources.  I have toys in the playroom that are recycled from their former lives.  The children love to play with them.  They cost virtually nothing to make,  and they have lasted for years.

Several years ago I went down into the basement on a snowy winter day and noticed that I had so many empty oatmeal boxes that I had saved for some purpose.  Think, think, think. (Just like Winnie the Pooh.)

The result – 10 covered boxes for building a tower or for bowling.  I covered each oatmeal box with contact paper.  They have been such a hit with the grandsons.  When they were 3 or so, they expected a tower in the sunporch when they entered the door to visit.  They would look at me with sweet smiles and say they were going to “knock it down.”  The boxes continue to be a favorite with all the grandchildren.  Now they try to see what different types of towers they can build.

Another oatmeal box reused.  This is a table top basketball game.  I covered this box with construction paper.  I cut the bottom out of a disposable cup and clipped it on to the side of the oatmeal box.  The box is placed on the table.  Players stand in front of the box and bounce a ping pong ball attempting to get it to go through the paper cup for a basket.  The cup and clip and ping pong ball can all be stored in the oatmeal box.

Three years ago I read on the internet about a mother who had built a play house for her children out of cereal and cracker boxes.  I was so intrigued that I decided to build one for my grandchildren.  I started collecting boxes.  I asked friends and family to save their boxes for my house.  I was getting quite a large collection  of boxes in my basement so I outlined a house with them.  It was then that I realized I would need many more boxes than I could ever collect.  Cheerios are tasty, but there is a limit to the number of times a day you want to eat them.

I had boxes so I needed an idea to Reuse them.  Having gone to play miniature golf with my grandchildren on a recent visit, I was inspired - a miniature golf course lay out.

I glued boxes to foam board and cut arches and doors in them.  I inserted Pringle cans for tunnels.

This “hole” has a ramp that goes up with the ball landing in a plastic bowl.

I bought a set of plastic golf clubs and balls at ToyRUs for the golfers to use.  We play in the basement in the winter and then take our course outside in the warm weather.  One caveat – strong winds can blow the “holes” away.  We did lose a “hole” when my grandson was running and tripped and fell on the structure.  One smashed box.  No harm, no foul.

Needless to say I had left-over boxes which I put into my recyling bin.

My final Reuse/recycle toy is a collection of plastic bottle caps, milk bottle rings, lids and wine corks.  I poked holes in the caps, lids and corks.  I keep these items with a package of pipe cleaners.  My grandchildren put them together to make creatures and designs.  The ones in the photo were made by me.  The children are much more creative.

Thanks for stopping by.   I’ll talk to you again soon.

More about my playroom

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

 A few weeks ago I was talking about some of the toys that I selected for the playroom.  Then I became distracted getting ready for Easter.

Now it is back to the playroom and some more of the favorite toys that my grandchildren have continued to play with over the years. 

I bought a Melissa and Doug set of musical instruments to which I added a Tonette.  I was surprised to see that Tonettes still exist since they were popular way back in the day when I was young.  This group of percussive instruments is always a big hit.  Whenever I have a cousin play date at my house, the children each pick up an instrument and go parading through my house providing their own style of music.  Grandmas appreciate the music; parents are not so receptive.  We try to play when the moms and dads are not around.  Dads have been known to hide the hand cymbals.

This photo doesn’t do this toy justice.  They are big chenille noodles.  My sister contributed these to the playroom.  The girls especially love them.  They make crowns and necklaces.  One granddaughter wove them into a cape to use when they were playing “dress up.”  The noodles have been turned into leashes for stuffed animals.  Sometimes they are used as barricades to keep out “the boys.”  I have used them to make letter shapes when we have grandma school and a little one is learning to identify the letters of the alphabet.  (Yes, Grandma, the teacher again.)

I bought this set of Connectagons at Hearth Song a couple of years ago.  If you are not familiar with Connectagons, they are gaily painted and slotted disks of balsa wood that can be slipped together to build items.  One caveat:  The wood is somewhat fragile.  Young children have a tendency to shove the disks into the slots and can break the Connectagons.  With a little help they learn just how to build items.  The girls like to build flowers.  In this photo the group  constructed a fence that is around a playground.  They put some Playmobile figures on the play equipment.  Some new, neat versions of Connectagons are now available.

I have mentioned the basket of animals in previous posts.  These animals from a  Safari Ltd. Farm Toob are played with every single time my grandchildren visit.  Usually it is because we are playing hide the animals.  The animals also are used at Christmas in the Snow Village and when the children are playing pretend setting up a village and farm in the playroom.

By the way, notice anything strange out this photo?  I was taking the photo when my cat Olivia jumped up on the table to see what was happening.  You can see the whiskers of Olivia at the left side of the photo.

This Fisher Price school bus might appear again when I write about “retro” toys.  This school bus was purchased about 40 years ago for my older son.  He and his brother played with it for years.  The toy then went into hibernation until the grandchildren were born.  Its popularity continues.  It has been in the Snow Village.  It has been used as a vehicle to take a group of Barbies to the beach.  It is used in pretend play.  The little people appear in other cars and trucks riding around the playroom.   Still running after all these years.  And it will definitely be tucked away in a special box for great grandchildren to carry on the play.

Just writing about these toys brings back to mind special memories of play dates we have had.

Thanks for visiting.  In a few weeks a granddaughter will be celebrating her 7th birthday.  I am the baker of her birthday cakes.  I’ll show you what I have made for her in the past and tell you want she has requested for birthday #7.