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11 free childhood activities that were better than any modern toy

The stuff we found lying around the house was always the best.

AS KIDS WE coveted expensive flashy toys we saw advertised between our favourite cartoons.

But it was true, that we always end up playing with the packaging. Shiny toys came and went, but the true joys of childhood didn’t cost a thing.

Here are 11 of our entries into the alternative toy hall of fame.

1. The cardboard box

cardboardbox Source: The Big Play Box

A cardboard box is not just a cardboard box. It’s everything. A car, a four-bedroom house or a spaceship, basically, there are no limitations. The humble box is a triumph of cardboard engineering.


2. The jar

Nothing matches the terror when it escapes while you open the jar for a look in at the bee you’ve just caught. It will seek revenge, you’re sure of it, lying awake at night.

One of the most painful things in life was the wait for the jam jar to be empty so mam or dad would punch holes in it, leaving you free to hunt humanly.

248 Source: Spiritswander

3. The rope

To make a tree swing, all it took was a bit of rope, which could be found anywhere in fairness. If you were exceptionally lucky, you’d have a spare tyre lying around as well. Then things got really interesting.

Joshua swinging Source: Bug-E

The ultimate coolness came from doubling up.


4. The fort

A fort can be made out of so many things. Blankets, chairs, crates, umbrellas, boxes. There is little point to actually having a fort once it’s done, but the process of making it is the best thing ever.

Reading in the fort Source: Ben Husmann

5. The floor

The premise is simple, the floor is lava, make your escape. Also a great one for reasoning why you can’t get out of bed as an adult.


6. The Fairy Liquid bottle

We’ve all seen the ads. The wait for your parents to finish their Fairy liquid bottle was just too much for any child to bear. It was almost as bad as the jam jar fiasco.

But think of all the things you can make out of it in the end. Unfortunately the bottles have changed now and frankly are just a barrier to our creativity.

fairy_step1 Source: Ivillage

Source: Steven Powell

7. Air

You may not be able to actually cook anything, but the joy of taking an order from your parents in the living room and ‘rustling it up’ in the kitchen. If you were particularly badass you’d have a hand written menu.

littlechef Source: Shutterstock

8. The hose

It’s a water-slide, a weapon, a paddling pool in one. Basically any excuse to get really soaking was one we would enthusiastically take. You’re a fireman, you’re a gardener, you’ve basically got the power.

I think I'll hose off the river Source: ceonyc

9. A stick

A stick is perhaps the most understated of childhood toys. Much like the cardboard box, the stick can be whatever you want it to be. A sword, a tool to navigate through harsh foliage, or simply a thingy to hit things with. We’d like to see Fisher Price TRY to make something as multifunctional. The stick is the child’s Swiss Army Knife.

choosesword Source: Shutterstock

10. Pegs

Pegs were the Lego and Knex for kids who didn’t have Lego or Knex. There was little that couldn’t be made with a sturdy set of pegs. The risk that your mam would find you playing with them and give out to you was just an added thrill.

pegs Source: Shutterstock

11. Yourself

Ah, yard games. Hopscotch, clapping games, red rover. When all you have is yourself and your friends to keep yourselves amused, fun finds a way.

Here’s our 11 reasons why they were the best fun you ever had.

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