Leggi questo post in: Italiano
Both of my kids love playing with cars, but my little guy in particular goes nuts with his toy cars. Seriously, there is really something in some boys’ DNA that draws them to cars because I am sure that none of us has conditioned him to this preference. It was Nicky’s birthday last week, a few days before Christmas, and so I decided to make up two DIY street toys that I knew that he, his sister and all the kids who come to our home would like to play with. Heck, even *I* like playing with them! And what makes these toys even cooler? Using all repurposed materials and things we already had around the house, these projects cost me a whopping €1.50! And they’ve been more loved in these past few days than many more expensive toys have been with the kids.
The photo above is what Nicky was presented with on his birthday. What the heck was in these containers? Just read on to find out!
When you open up the pants bag, segments of toy streets spill out!
And inside the box are tons of adorable little street signs!
Neither of these ideas were originally mine, though I did make some minimal changes to both. The awesome idea to cut up old jeans to make travel segmented streets was from Lil Mop Top, but I decided to make them more asphalt-like and use black jeans. The mere €1.50 that I spent on this gift was for three pairs of black jeans that I bought at our local used market.
I cut out a rectangle 4 inches wide from a cereal box and used it to draw street parts on the jeans with tailor’s chalk. I made different types of curves and intersections, as well as a variation of street segment lengths. I cut them out and sewed the edges with my serger (and a simple zig-zag on the last ones, after I started fighting with my serger when it got late) to avoid fraying.
While I sewed the edges, my little helper (a.k.a. Sofia, a.k.a. big sister) painted the stripes in the middle of the streets with white acrylic paint. Then we got the idea to make some parking spots and some crosswalks. I think that the imperfection of the painting adds to the charm of the streets. Plus, Sofia was so happy to help out!
And just look how those streets fit together! So awesome! (I also love how the double decker bus is the same size at the Fiat 500 and smaller than the Smart Car. Ha!)
I realized I’d need a place to store the streets, so I took one of the jeans tops that was left over, sewed the bottom closed and applied a few snaps at the top to be able to close it up. Perfect!
To make the play even more fun, we also made about a gazillion tiny street signs. This was made super easy by the amazing free downloadable street signs on Doodles and Jots. You can find normal ones here, eco-friendly ones here, and fairytale ones here. I printed them out on regular paper, glued them on to the backs of cereal boxes and cut them out. I raided my in-laws’ plastic bottle cap collection and poked holes in the center of them with an ice pick. I taped (and later glue gunned) toothpicks onto the backs of the signs and poked them into the bottle caps. Done! (Again, with the help of big sister.)
Cities with parking spaces and dead ends…
…hairpin turns in mountain roads…
…cars waiting patiently while Nativity scene folks cross in the crosswalks (this is clearly not a Neapolitan road)…
…and my little guy’s favorite: construction zones.
Another very cute idea for kids who love playing with cars is to make a stoplight that can actually change color! No, you don’t need any electronic knowledge, just a couple of toilet paper and/or paper towel tubes and some markers! Giada from Quando Fuori Piove explains how to make a twistable stoplight that stands up on its own…
…and your favorite little person will be able to direct the traffic as he or she pleases! (My daughter made this a couple of years ago, before making the jean streets, which is why it’s being used on a traffic mat/quilt in the photo above.)
The holidays may be pretty much over, but here in Italy we still have Ephiphany, so any combination of these three DIY street toys would be a great gift idea for the Befana witch to leave your kids! Or else, a fantastic birthday gift that will give your kiddos hours and hours of fun!
Question of the day: How was your New Year?
Betcha thought I’d forgotten to wish you all a Happy New Year, right?! I had a pretty calm but pleasant New Year’s Eve eating and playing games with my husband’s family. The last day of 2014 started off with a surprise: snow! I come from New England, so I grew up with masses of the stuff, but since moving to southern Italy in 2001, I hadn’t woken up to find snow outside my window! (You can see a picture of it on my Facebook page.) So here’s to a 2015 full of new possibilities for us all! Happy New Year!