Three DIY street toys for kids who love cars!

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 Three DIY street toys from repurposed materials for kids who love cars! Toy streets, street signs and a stoplight | www.cucicucicoo.com

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!

 Three DIY street toys from repurposed materials for kids who love cars! Toy streets, street signs and a stoplight | www.cucicucicoo.com

When you open up the pants bag, segments of toy streets spill out!

 Three DIY street toys from repurposed materials for kids who love cars! Toy streets, street signs and a stoplight | www.cucicucicoo.com

And inside the box are tons of adorable little street signs!

 Three DIY street toys from repurposed materials for kids who love cars! Toy streets, street signs and a stoplight | www.cucicucicoo.com

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.

 Three DIY street toys from repurposed materials for kids who love cars! Toy streets, street signs and a stoplight | www.cucicucicoo.com

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.

 Three DIY street toys from repurposed materials for kids who love cars! Toy streets, street signs and a stoplight | www.cucicucicoo.com

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!

 Three DIY street toys from repurposed materials for kids who love cars! Toy streets, street signs and a stoplight | www.cucicucicoo.com

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!

 Three DIY street toys from repurposed materials for kids who love cars! Toy streets, street signs and a stoplight | www.cucicucicoo.com

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.)

Three DIY street toys from repurposed materials for kids who love cars! Toy streets, street signs and a stoplight | www.cucicucicoo.com
What fun to put these two ideas together! You can put together whole huge cities!

Three DIY street toys from repurposed materials for kids who love cars! Toy streets, street signs and a stoplight | www.cucicucicoo.com

Cities with parking spaces and dead ends…

Three DIY street toys from repurposed materials for kids who love cars! Toy streets, street signs and a stoplight | www.cucicucicoo.com

…hairpin turns in mountain roads…

Three DIY street toys from repurposed materials for kids who love cars! Toy streets, street signs and a stoplight | www.cucicucicoo.com

…cars waiting patiently while Nativity scene folks cross in the crosswalks (this is clearly not a Neapolitan road)…

Three DIY street toys from repurposed materials for kids who love cars! Toy streets, street signs and a stoplight | www.cucicucicoo.com

…bear zones…

Three DIY street toys from repurposed materials for kids who love cars! Toy streets, street signs and a stoplight | www.cucicucicoo.com

…and my little guy’s favorite: construction zones.

Three DIY street toys from repurposed materials for kids who love cars! Toy streets, street signs and a stoplight | www.cucicucicoo.com

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…

Three DIY street toys from repurposed materials for kids who love cars! Toy streets, street signs and a stoplight | www.cucicucicoo.com

…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!


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15 COMMENTS

  1. This is genius! My niece’s little boy turns 2 in March and I gave him a car for Christmas. He loves wheels and music! It’s designed by an Italian manufacturer, made in China of course, but it was such a hit! I’ll have to keep this idea for when he’s a little older. I told her it was his first Italian sportscar. It’s really cute, red with yellow bumpers, doors open upon impact but he was laying on the floor moving his new toy around on the carpet all afternoon-it kept him amused which is not easy for this age group. Thanks for the great idea and I welcome anymore for little boys as they are difficult to find things for. Girls are so much easier in that respect. I was the oldest of four girls, so boy-things are not easy for me to come up with.

    • Yes, it is definitely hard to keep such little boys focused for very long. And I agree that it is often very hard to figure out what to give boys, even more so if you’re making gifts yourself!! I usually end up caving in and buying gifts for boys because I can never figure out what to make for them.

  2. che belle queste strade componibili!
    tempo fa avevo cucito per il mio bimbo grande un portamacchinine, utilizzando sempre dei jeans vecchi (… che non devo neanche comprare al mercatino dell’usato perchè ormai le mie amiche quando eliminano i jeans invece di buttarli li portano direttamente a me!!! Non devo neanche più chiedere!) e con una piccola strada fatta con il feltro.
    Mi sembrava una cosa geniale e utile, perchè si sa che non si può uscire di casa se non si ha almeno una macchinina in ciascuna mano, più un paio di scorta in ogni tasca, giusto? In realtà entrambi i miei figli non l’hanno mai usato per “portare” le macchinine, (che hanno continuato a stare in mano e cadere a terra continuamente), però hanno molto apprezzato la stradina che c’era sopra. Credo proprio che se realizzassi una cosa del genere impazzirebbero!

  3. My 3 year old daughter was playing with a dolls house at her prospective primary school yesterday – a reception teacher commented to her that she wasn’t much up on girl’s toys as she only had sons at home and was more used to footballs and Lego (I know!) I replied that we had a range of toys including those at home. Her response was to assume that my daughter had older brothers – I felt obliged to contradict her and point out to her that toys are not gender specific at which point she just walked away. Thank goodness she’s not my daughter’s teacher next year. The labeling of toys to conform to gender stereotype appears to be affecting educated adults too – let toys be toys!

    • Geez, no kidding! It’s particularly frustrating when teachers have these stereotypes, too, and reinforce them in schools. I don’t think that my son’s teachers have ever said anything about the toys he plays with (as far as I know), but he has gotten somewhat harrassed at school, in summer camp, in the pool, etc. about his love for the color pink and wearing nail polish on his toenails. I say, if he likes it, then it’s great, but not everyone sees things the way I do!

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