If you have ever wondered what to do with old toys, you are in the right spot! We have the best list of how to recycle old toys into something useful and beautiful. Before you throw your old toys away, check out these cool and unusual ways to recycle, upcycle and transform old toys into magical new creations.  

Recycle Old Toys Into Something Cool - 16 things to make with old toys
Let’s turn old toys into something cool!

What to Do with Old Toys

I love surrounding myself with artful nostalgia.  These simple ways to craft with childhood favorites will bring a flood of happy old toy memories. Recycling old toys is way easier and less work than you might think. It’s also really fun and a cool way for you and your kids to bond while using your imagination.

Upcycling old toys is always a good lesson in resourcefulness!

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Ways to Repurpose Old Toyw

1. Make a G.I. Joe Bookend

Check out this War And Peace Bookend from Make: looks like something straight of Sid’s room in Toy Story!

All you need is a toy soldier and and the build page instructions from Make.  OK, to be honest, you need a few more things:

  • GI Joe Action Figure – Talk about something you likely have in an old toy box!
  • Hacksaw
  • Sandpaper or craft knife
  • Jigsaw
  • Piece of 10 mm thick wood, MDF or plywood
  • Electric drill
  • Nut & bolt
  • Epoxy adhesive

It may sound all a little complicated, but the DIY old toy transformation is totally worth it!

2. DIY Bow Holder or Piece of Old Toy Art

I’m loving this a memory sculpture bow holder, from Makely

What a unique and functional way to hang onto some of your kid’s favorite toys, by morphing them in to a piece of art, while organizing their room at the same time!  While Makely recommends using it for hair bows, I like the idea of just an old toy sculpture art piece.

To create this timeless piece of art you will need:

  • A group of old toys — Old McDonalds Happy Meal Toys, beads, party giveaways, cheap plastic toys, old jewelry pieces, Barbie shoes, animal figurines…whatever you have on hand.
  • Glue
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • (optional) Bling
  • Wall attachment
Recycle Old Toys Into Something Cool! - Dinosaur corn holder, plastic elephant magnets, dinosaur coat hanger, dinosaur book ends.
The dinosaur corn holder is amazing.

Old Animal Toys Reborn…Upcycled!

Animal toys are something that almost every kid has. They are sort of an investment toy, because not only are they educational, they are a classic, and can be played with at almost any age. Regardless, your kids will still get to a point when they won’t play with them as much. The good new is that there are tons of ways to recycle old animal toys into something cool!

3. Make Animal Jar Tops for Fun & Organization

Get leggy and organized with these fun lids from envatotuts+!

Kids will love organizing their stuff into these fun containers. All you need is spray paint and mason jars.

4. DIY Dinosaur Head Wall Hooks

This idea from Etsy, to make a coat rack with toy dino heads, is so cool!  We also found this fun zoo animal wall hooks idea too.

Create this custom wall decor which works great in a hall, kids room or entry way.  Makes a conversational coat hangar.  Gotta love a way to save toys that’s also a space saver!

toothbrush holder made of old toys- giant elephant toothbrush
How nifty is this toothbrush holder?

5. Make an Animal Figuring Toothbrush Holder

Drill some holes into a toy and upcycle it into a toothbrush holder.

Our elephant figuring toothbrush holder requires the following supplies to make:

  • Large plastic animal toy figuring with hollow body
  • Marker
  • Drill that matches the size of the toothbrush handles

6. Do It Yourself Dinosaur Bookends

Cut old toys in half, then paint, and glue them into wooden “L ‘s” to create bookends with this cool idea from Doodlecraft!

I love all the variation and colorful creations that are now decorating her bookshelves.

Here are the supplies to make this old toy craft happen:

  • Scrap wood
  • Glue gun
  • Glue
  • Plastic dinosaurs cut in half
  • X-acto knife or jigsaw
  • Spray paint

7. Make Kids Favorite Corn on the Cob Holder

Use toys as handles with this brilliant idea from Paging Fun Mums. Here, they used rubber dinosaurs to make grips for corn-on-the-cob!

Not only is this one of the cutest ideas for recycling old toys, but I think it would make a really cute gift as well.

She calls them “Corn’a’saurus”.

Recycle Old Toys Into Something Cool- basket ball plant holder, mail holder, and key holder
I love the basketball plant pot.

Old Sports Equipment Turned Functional Art

I love how creative people are with every day items. You can take something that you use everyday, and multi-purpose it ten times over!

8. Tennis Balls Re-imagined

Who knew a tennis ball could be so handy!

There are a lot of ways you can use this trusty monster ball, from Dishfunctional Designs.  This cute fuzzy yellow happy tennis ball now holds the mail, drinks a beer, holds the keys, smokes?, holds a pen, holds a towel or just generally looks adorable.

9. Basketball Planter

Transform a worn out basketball into a hanging planter for your favorite houseplant.

You will need:

  • Basketball
  • Jigsaw
  • Hanging chain
  • Inside liner
Recycle Old Toys Into Something Cool- bean bag chair, bat mobile, necklace, sculpture
The mini bat mobile is the coolest!

10. Repurpose Old Stuffed Animals as Bean Bag Filler

Store your kids’ stuffed animals and create a bean bag chair all at once with this bean bag cover!

What a smart idea to use all that old stuffed animal fluffy goodness for a purpose.

11. Transform Your Cozy Coup into a Bat Mobile

Not all toy hacks are for toys your kids have outgrown.

You can paint toys they still love to play with, and give them new life. Check out this this coupe Bat Mobile from Sweet C’s!

My kids absolutely think this is a WAY cooler way to ride.

12. DIY Gumball Machine Necklace

25 cent toy “bubbles” from the gumball machine can be repurposed into a fun lipgloss necklace with this tutorial. (unavailable)

This would make such a fun slumber party craft!

13. Old Musical Instruments Get an Overhaul

Your musical instruments can be repurposed, too!  

Transform a xylophone into a fun wind chime with this idea from Instructables!

Recycle Old Toys Into Something Cool- lego kit, charger lego holder
I love the on the go lego kit!

Why Should We Upcycle Toys Instead Of Throwing Them Out?

It keeps them out of landfills. The landfill is the cause of a lot of methane and carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere which contributes to climate change. Also, it’s good to not waste!

What Are The Advantages Of Upcycling?

Well, we mentioned because that it’s great for keeping things out of the landfill, but you also: use less materials, learn new skills, and it makes the item useful for your family again or for someone else.

What's The Difference Between Upcycle and Repurpose?

These words are a bit synonymous, but they are different. Repurposing is when you use an item for a different reason. So, for example, instead of using one of the tennis balls for a keyholder, I just stuck it in the dryer with my pillows to fluff them, that is repurposing. Upcycling is me cutting the tennis ball and adding googly eyes and a tab to make a keyholder.

Looking For More Ways To Organize Or Recycle Toys Into Something Cool?

Did we miss a good idea for what to do with old toys? Tell us how to repurpose and reimagine old toys below in the comments!

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