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New Life for Old Toys

To get some more bang for your toy bucks:

* Spark your child's imagination. Combine castoffs for new games: The building blocks he tossed aside can double as a house for a favorite toy. Old animals can be patients in need of medicine from a doctor's kit.

* Provide props. Puppets or stuffed animals will come to life again with a big cardboard box cut to be a puppet theater. Other ideas: See what your child can do with scarves (wind them through a shape sorter?), tins and jugs (use them for a ball toss?), or pillows (set them up as obstacles for a toy car race?)

* Go shopping  -- at home. Set up some old toys throughout the room and let your child choose the ones he wants to "buy" from you with fake cash.

* Put your child to work. Call out colors, textures, or types of toys and have him separate them. With some plastic containers for sorting, you may just manage to get the room cleaned up, too!