Three Ideas from Avid Thrifters for Creations Your Kids Will Love


As summer days slowly pass, it can be difficult to limit screen time and keep kids engaged without spending tons on new toys. Luckily, these thrifters have shared a few of their go-to ideas to keep kids entertained while on a budget.

These ideas are not only fun for kids, but they promote sustainable shopping and fund mission services when items are thrifted from Goodwill of Central Iowa. 

#1 Jumbo Crayons

This creative and sustainability focused idea came from Ash Hartkorn, a super mom and avid thrifter. When she had the idea to repurpose her kids’ broken crayons, she thought to melt them together to create new ones! Before heading to a big box craft store to find molds, she thought to stop by her local Goodwill. Ash shared, “The nice thing about looking for craft supplies at Goodwill first before you run to a box store is that it may give you creative ideas for new projects you didn’t even think about creating. I came for tiny silicone ice cube molds, but decided the huge ones would be more fun.”

A quick glance through the housewares section may cause the average eye to see an ice cube tray or candy mold, but as an avid thrifter Ash knows to look before the surface. In fact, even when she was checking out this comment was made, “Oh, is this for shortbread?” and she simply replied, “I’m not sure…I’m going to be melting crayons and making jumbo crayons and soaps out of this mold!”

When Ash brought home her thrifted find, her kids were thrilled to explore this new project. The steps to complete it are below accompanied by their finished product!

Step 1: Have your kids unwrap the crayons and remove the paper. 

Step 1b: While the kids are unwrapping the crayons, preheat the oven to 150 degrees.

Step 2: Fill in the mold with crayon pieces. This can be done with mixed colors in an interesting design or fill each mold with broken crayons of similar shades!

Step 3: Bake crayons just until the waxes have melted, typically between 15-20 minutes. Remove the shapes after they have cooled.

Pro Tip: If the crayons are sticking to the mold, place the tray in the freezer for an hour and they will pop right out!

#2 Activity Wall

This in-home daycare provider wanted a fun and enriching activity for her children. An outdoor music wall was the perfect solution! She chose to use a variety of items to create this wall, including both intentional toys and miscellaneous kitchenwares. 

These items are hung on wooden boards, but could also be attached to a prefabricated lattice board that can easily be found at local home improvement centers. 

The noisemakers that attach to the board can all be found at your local Goodwill! From exploring the toy section to kitchenwares to housewares, you will be able to find pots and pans, baking sheets, bells and more!

#3 Sensory Bins

In an attempt to work on fine motor skills with her son, Emily wanted to create sensory bins at an affordable price. While some sensory bins are filled with edible options like rice and beans, she opted for non-food options for this rotation.

Sensory bins work on fine motor skills with preschool aged children through imploring them to scoop, grasp, stir, and pour different fillers. 

Emily headed to her local Goodwill to see what bins and fillers may be available. She was determined to find a few deep containers that included a lid so bins could easily be stored. While it may take a few separate trips to get everything you need, the low prices and support of local mission services is worth it to her.

Here is Emily’s sensory bin shopping checklist:

-4 deep containers with lids (differing sizes)

-6 types of scoops (sifters, measuring cups, jars, etc.)

-5 types of filler (confetti, small rocks, glass pebbles, buttons, beads, and more!)

-Optional: toys to play with such as dinosaurs, animals, and small dolls

Keep in mind that if you have multiple children that will be playing with the same sensory bin, you’ll likely want a larger bin and more filler.
While bins can be a random assortment of items, it can also be fun to create themed boxes that correspond with a favorite book,  tv show, or upcoming holiday!

If you’re looking to create fun activities for your children, find a Goodwill store near you to see what you may find. Over 80 cents of each dollar from our retail stores goes towards funding mission services within our communities.

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