Encourage your child's creativity by letting him use some basic household items. Show kids some of the ways they can use these everyday things, but also let them discover other ways they can turn them into great playthings.

1. Paper Towel Tube

When the paper towels run out, hand over the tube to the kids. Let them decorate it and use it as a pretend telescope, a stick to bat balloons, or as a tool to play a game of I Spy. These handy tubes can also be used as drumsticks, rhythm sticks, or for rolling marbles through.

2. Toilet Paper Tube

Use these shorter tubes as pretend telescopes for very young children, or collect a few, grab some black paint and a few supplies, and work on this very cool Paper Tube Binoculars craft.

3. Empty Food Boxes

Clean out used cereal boxes, spice containers, and empty soup cans; children can use them in their play kitchen or backyard house, and they are way better than toy food containers. Be sure that cans do not have rough edges, and remove labels if your children like to eat the paper.

4. Old Clothes

Everything from mismatched socks and large shirts to hats and work uniforms you no longer use can be tossed in a big box or chest for playing dress up. Don't forget shoes and accessories.

5. Old Appliances

They'll love pushing buttons and checking out the parts on the real thing. Remove batteries, check for sharp edges, and supervise your children.

6. Cups

Use sturdy plastic drinking cups, paper cups, or clean all those disposable plastic cups your family has gathered from gas stations and restaurants. Stack them up in a pyramid and knock them down.

7. Plastic Utensils

Under adult supervision, these can be used for cutting and making designs in play dough.

8. Drinking Straws

Use these for a variety of craft projects.

9. Cardboard

Use small pieces (from cracker boxes and cereal boxes) as a canvas for painting projects.

More Stuff

5 Things Your Kids Will Turn Into Toys includes items around the house your children are likely to turn into toys on their own — whether you show them or not.

Household Items as Toys from HGTV gives instructions for several games that can be made from everyday things you have in your home.

Not A Box by Antoinette Portis. This cute book has very little text, very simple pictures, and can be thoroughly enjoyed by any child with a vivid imagination.