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Treasures or Trash—Selecting Toys at Garage Sales

Tulips, lawn mowers, and garage sales all signal the arrival of spring. Yard sales can be great places to select toys for your preschooler. Here are some pointers to make certain the toys you buy are "treasures" instead of "trash."

  • The younger the child, the fewer pieces the toy should have. Watch out for small pieces or moveable parts that could harm young children.
  • Can the toy be easily cleaned? Use 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water to clean and kill germs on the toys.
  • Is there any damage? Check for rust, dents, broken parts or sharp edges. Sand rough edges on wooden toys.
  • Are all the pieces there? It can be frustrating to have a "new" toy only to discover you don't have the parts that make it work. Puzzle pieces are very easy to lose.
  • Can the child be active? Watch out for poorly balanced tricycles or riding toys.
  • Does it encourage the use of imagination? Old clothes and shoes can be great for dress up.
  • Does it let the child act out grown-up roles? Things like telephones, cameras, typewriters, hats or uniforms can be lots of fun. Just make sure there are no sharp edges or loose parts.
  • Will it challenge my child? (but not be so difficult he will be frustrated.) You won't have recommended ages on the package to guide you.
  • Think about your child's abilities and interests. Does she like playing with cars, trucks and tractors?
Another Garage Sale Tip:

Give your child a small amount of money to buy birthday or holiday gifts for friends and family. A little money can go a long way. Your child will have the pleasure of giving gifts.

Prepared by Debbie McClellan, Extension Educator, Family Life.