Imaginative Play · Play Advice

5 minute toy hack-how to make old seem new

I don’t know who gets bored of our toys faster, my boys or me.  Its like, how many times can you make the little car go down the ramp?  Sometimes I actually want to cry when my oldest, Boston, asks me to build a tower.  I go through it in my head: build tower, it gets too high, toddler cries, mom says lets try again, repeat.  So, when he turned two and I realized I couldn’t buy new toys at the end of every week to keep us from going insane, I came up with a little solution:

Berry the Berry the Fairy.

…..or it could be Barry the Berry the Fairy. Or Berry the Barry the Fairy.  Really the spelling is undecided until Boston learns to write as he is the namer.

A few times a week when we are having a stir crazy kind of day but can’t go out for whatever reason I pull out this little 5 minute day saver.

I go into our playroom when the kids are taking a nap or quiet time and set up the toys in a silly or fun way.  It usually takes me no longer than 5 minutes, although I have to admit sometimes I enjoy it a little too much and have to ask myself if I am actually just playing with the the toys during my kids’ nap time.

This is where Barry/Berry comes in.  I made up a little fairy (that Boston named) and told him that this fairy came and played with all of his toys while he was sleeping.  He gets so excited to see what Barry did, and I get so excited to see what he does with the little invitation to play that I created.


Boston loves firefighters so sometimes I pretend something (in this case I got out the train set and put the farm on fire) is on fire and pull out his fire trucks.

He also loves super heroes, so sometimes I will build a little fortress for the superheroes.  This time I built a little fence out of his blocks to protect the superhero and then left the blocks out.  This helps show him that his toys can be used in different ways, in other words: Goodbye tower tantrums.  It is always a good idea to leave extra toys out that he or she can add to and be imaginative with.

Another good trick is to change a toy he or she already likes to make it fun again.  I cut out a tiny piece of fabric and tied it around this power ninja so it has a cape.  Boston carried it around for three days straight.Or sometimes I will use whatever rubber band I have on my wrist to tie a little toy on the back of another toy, he always thinks that is silly.  A different time I tied a shoe string I found laying on the ground onto a T Rex and made it swing from the book case.  Boston has still never taken the shoe string off and takes the T Rex on weekly “walks.”

I often will do one quick toy set up and then one quick coloring/art set up.  And as you can see I mean QUICK.  Sometimes I draw a matching game on the chalkboard, or draw shapes for him to fill in with the correct color.


If I really don’t feel like spending time on it, but know that I need Boston to play happily for a minute while I make dinner and want to buy some time I just set some of his favorite toys up in whatever way pops into my head and see what he makes of it.  He loved this set up because he said Barry had locked the pups away from the food (pom poms) and thought that was hilarious.  Good one, Barry. (don’t mind the table, we found it at a dumpster. ya, we are THOSE people. #studentlife)


I also ALWAYS pull out a few books he hasn’t read in a while and turn them to a page I think he might like.  This way there are 3 different stations for him to check out.  (Books, art, and toys)

Boston gets so excited for Berry the Barry to come that he often will ask for him before a nap, and I tell him he will only come if Boston is sleeping (a good nap incentive is always a win).  This has helped him learn how to play by himself better (even if it only lasts five minutes) and also makes it more fun for me to play with him.  Sometimes I hide a little rock or jingle bell and tell him Barry has hidden it and wants Boston to find it.  I love watching his excited little chubby fingers check under every toy.

I have always been a sucker for all things magical.  I love thinking about Gold Beast all grown up telling his kids about Barry the Berry the Fairy and knowing he had a mama that would do any silly thing just to make him happy.

So, next time you or your little one are stuck inside and having a day put aside a few minutes to play with your kids’ toys, and see what you come up with.  If you do, tag @adventuresofourplayfulhome on instagram, and show us what your silly fairy did. Have fun!

Love, Tessa

Kelsie Tips:

The best thing about this is the set up. Children really are attracted to pretty and nice looking things.

My girls have a little nook in the living room, we call it the lego room because one time it had legos in it, and I have seen this concept over and over again. If I simply tidy up the lego room (it has a kitchen, small table and a small area for what ever rotating toy I have out that week) it might get played with for a few minutes. If I set 2 place mats up on the table and put some pretend pizza in the oven and maybe a menu on a chair the place suddenly looks inviting!

Right now the toy we have out is my girls fisher price princess castle and people. If I simply tidy them up, placing all the people in the toy box, it looks clean, but not inviting. If I spend 1 minute and place a princess coming to visit in her car, a baby in the bedroom, and set up the table with chairs… now it is a play area ready to go.

I love bringing in the magic of Barry the Berry the Fairy into the set up!! I know my 5 year old would love to be in on the fun. Mrs 5 could BE LooLoo the fairy and set up play areas for her little sisters!

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