As the old joke goes, "you spend a fortune on presents for the kids on Christmas and a half hour later they are playing with the boxes."
This gets parents laughing simply because it is so TRUE! I have witnessed it over and over again. So much have I seen this phenomenon that when my co-worker called on his way to my house for a dinner party and asked "Is there anything I can pick up at the shop on my way?" I actually replied "Yes, can you pick up a nice sturdy box that could fit two small children". He knows me and the girls and knew I wasn't joking. He found them a lovely "car-sized (to them)" brocolli box. There are 3 empty boxes in my living room as I write this. There were four and I got in great trouble this morning when Sprout discovered that I cut up her "robot box" for recycling last night.
Aside from boxes my children get great joy from playing with trash. I haven't bought either of them a toy in ages yet my children are never bored as long as there is paper, crayons, scissors, tape and some sort of trash. DD1 is better at this since she can use scissors and tape. Sometimes she asks for the stuff (empty containers, boxes AGAIN, toilet paper tubes, newspapers…) or sometimes I give her things I think could become and interesting toy. DD2 is the problem. She thinks the trash CAN is the toy. SHe will put things in it or take them out depending on her mood or the item. So far she hasn't tossed anything valuable YET that we know of, but it gets a bit gross when she takes things out. Thank goodness she doesn't wear disposables or she'd be sure to pull those out too.
Handkerchiefs, small towels and scarves are another favorite. They become skirts,
headbands, aprons, blankets for small teddies and dolls, bandages (DD1 has quite an imagination) , you name it. Unfortunately I have to wash this constantly and I'm sure I'm washing perfectly clean towels they may have only been used to cover a sick dinosaur, but then again, it may have been used to wipe a toddlers nose so just in case…
My metal mixing bowls bring great joy to both children. Shorty likes to take them out of the cupboard as fast as I can put them in. MOre often than not I simply give up at some point and leave them out. Sprout then drags them off to the living room or her "playroom" to cook something up or bang on them incessantly. Of course I have to rewash these too. A LOT of unnecessary washing goes on in my house.
Oh and have I neglected the number one favorite toddler toy in my house? Yes, the dog's dishes must be the most attractive thing to shorty. If she's not digging in the kibble (she's long since stopped tasting it. It was obviously pretty awful), she's splashing around in the water bowl. SO far ole Mari has been very patient for a dog whose dish seems to spend a lot of time up on the counter or high shelves.