The Second Time Around: Simple Yard Sale Treasures for Kids

Written by Kara Fleck, editor of Simple Kids.  Spring is just around the corner, which means so is Yard Sale Season, my favorite time of year!  We”re enjoying the extended President”s Day weekend, so I thought you might enjoy this post from June 2010.  Best wishes!

This upcoming weekend is a holiday here in the United States.  It  also marks the time of year when many local neighborhoods shift yard sale season into high gear. For the savvy shopper, this is the most wonderful time of the year, as the bargains are waiting to be found.

Being one of those people who likes to plan ahead to save myself work and hassle later, I take advantage of this time to get a jump on my holiday and birthday shopping.

Indulge me for a moment, though, because keeping your eyes open now for certain items can pay off in the form of full stockings come December, and at bargain prices to boot.

Here are some simple yard sale treasures for kids that are worth searching for:

1. Dominos

You don”t necessarily need a full set, as most kids prefer to line them up for domino toppling rather than playing the official game.  In fact, a mismatched, colorful collection seems to have more kid appeal.

Often I find dominos sets in tins. If the original tin or box is in good shape and all the pieces are there, I will wrap it and give it as is.

If many pieces are missing or the box is damaged, discard the box and repackage the dominos in a simple homemade draw-string bag.   Skip to My Lou has a great draw string bag tutorial that is simple, even for my modest sewing skills.

2. Marbles

My two oldest children have recently discovered the joy of collecting  and playing with marbles. Don”t know the rules of the game?  You can find a printer-friendly copy here: .

This is another toy that you can gradually accumulate until you have enough to fill a small homemade gift bag.  A super fun stocking stuffer!

3. Madeline Tins

I don”t give the tins themselves to the children, but I do use them as molds for making homemade melted crayons.  Madeline tins and  muffin tins come in a variety of  shapes that make for really beautiful crayons and can be picked up inexpensively second-hand.

These pretty crayons have been one of my “go to” birthday gifts for years now and they find their way into the holiday stockings, too.

4. Silk and Cotton Scarves

These are wonderful for playing dress up with and they make fun props for story telling, play, or for decorating the nature table. I like to find solid, light colored scarves and sometimes I dye or over-dye them.

I useto dye our silks and scarves with.   Knitty has an article on dying yarn with kool-aid that includes a color chart you could use for reference, too.

5. Crafting Materials

Abandoned hobbies and craft projects are common yard-sale wares. Partially completed kits or those missing pieces can be put together in a special box to serve as raw materials for young crafter.  Pick up some how-to books and patterns while you”re browsing and you can put together a one-of-a-kind gift that encourages creativity.

Keep your eyes out for pin cushions, measuring tape, thimbles, and travel-sized sewing kits, too.  These can be combined with fat quarters and fabric scraps to create a sewing kit for a young seamstress or budding costume designer.

6. Board Games

Even those board games that are missing pieces are worth considering.  First, they are probably priced very low.  And second, it isn”t the games themselves that you want but the fun components. Dice, spinners, chessmen, scrabble tiles all can be re-packaged into a “Build Your Own Game” kit.

Recover game boards with plain kraft paper and you”ve got a blank canvas for whatever your child imagines.  Cover this with clear contact paper to help their drawings last through rounds and rounds of play.

You can also add in some fun and unexpected items to enhance your game kit:

  • wooden spools
  • buttons
  • a calculator
  • small colored pencils
  • post-it note pads
  • large rubber bands
  • an hourglass or wind-up kitchen timer
  • doll house miniatures
  • bells


7. Misc. Kitchen Items

Don”t forget to browse the housewares! Over the years, an enamelware tea pot (missing its lid), small wooden cutting board, wooden spoons, and a picnic basket have all found a new home in our play kitchen.

Items don”t have to be child-sized to be appreciated.  Often their authenticity appeals to kids, who want to do things just like their parents. Being designed for kitchen use also means they are more likely to stand up to daily play, unlike many of their plastic toy counterparts.

Items I”m currently on the hunt for: whisks, wooden canisters, small tongs, mini muffin tins, egg cups.  I”m also on the lookout for square wooden coaster sets.  I have an idea to remove the cork, sand them, and repaint them to look like slices of bread.

Use common sense about rough or sharp edges, breakable items, or those with tiny pieces, of course!

Treasures for a Steal

For year-round second-hand shopping there”s always my favorite local thrift store, but most thrift stores don”t compare to the rock-bottom prices that yard sale season brings.

When it comes to finding treasures for my kids, yard sale season will always be my favorite time of year.

What treasures are you hoping to find for your kids this yard sale season?

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at

Online Knitting Class
Delightful kids' crafts delivered to your door!  See sample crates>>


  1. I am on the hunt for a cd player (our last second hnd one lasted 6 years but has since kicked hte bucket! lol) , hotwheels tracks….my youngest loves anything with wheels, and Kelle dolls….crossing our fingers for treassures!!!
    .-= Hallie´s last blog ..Aloha Friday =-.

  2. great article!

    we stocked our sandbox with really nice garage sale kitchen items: colanders (for sifting) and all sorts and shapes of tin pans. kids flipped over all the great choices, and they were nicer to look at than plastic and way more indestructible.

    we took toasters and other small “machines” out of the ubiquitous free box, cut off the cord, and let the kids take them apart with a set of tiny screwdrivers.
    .-= Lori´s last blog ..a little bit from here- a little bit from there =-.

  3. I’ve found some awesome and almost brand new Melissa and Doug toys at yard sales. Love a good bargain!
    .-= Tina@RideonToys´s last blog ..The Big Driver Two Seat Golf Cart Provides A Comfy Ride To The Tee =-.

  4. I like using garage sales to thin out the toys that no longer fit with the needs of our family too. I LOVE yard/garage sale season. I just need to learn how to be patient enough to hold them to Christmas.
    .-= Angela´s last blog ..Where have I been hiding =-.

    • I have a tote that I use to stash things in that I am saving for the holidays. It helps to keep things out of sight, but I do admit that I “shop” from my stash of toys/kids things sometimes when a birthday or other occasion is coming up. The Tooth Fairy has been known to raid the tote, for example :-)

  5. I’ve never been much of a garage sale-r (is that what you call people who go to garage sales? I have no idea). But you mentioned some great things that I never would have thought to look for at garage sales. I’ve got quite a few of those kitchen items you mentioned on my wish list for my son, so I may have to check out the next big neighborhood sale!
    .-= Cara´s last blog ..Flag Wreath =-.

  6. You could make draw-string bags out of cotton scarves to keep dominoes/game pieces/marbles/crayons in!

  7. What a great list. I must be more purposeful in my garage sale hunting :)
    .-= Christie – Childhood 101´s last blog ..Not So Tough Love =-.

  8. Hi Kara,

    I love these ideas! I would love to feature your article at Would that be something you are interested in? Please let me know –


  9. Love these ideas! We were fortunate enough to find a big plastic tub of colored dominoes at a yard sale about 3 years ago. My kids use them for everything but actually playing the original game. Best part– I don’t worry if pieces get lost or end up in craft projects, because the whole container only cost me 50 cents in the first place!

    Nice blog! I’m a new follower.
    Jo Brielyn from Creative Kids Ideas´s latest post: Teaching Kids with Pizza – Reader Idea

  10. I recently posted on my blog, how you can make use of garage sale to impart valuable lessons on your kids. A garage sale offer so much to them in terms of teachings about money matters. If interested do read my post here
    SB(One Cent At A Time)´s latest post: Let Children Learn Money From Garage Sale

  11. I’ve always told my kids that: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” They have always loved going to rummage sales and hunting for treasure.
    Love, the homemade crayons using the cookie cutter. They’re are gorgeous. They will make great gifts.
    Diane Balch´s latest post: Simple Cooking Tips: Chef’s Secrets

  12. Wonderful ideas for getting more hands on creative playthings! Kids do so much better when they can use their imaginations…
    Bernice @ The Stressed Mom´s latest post: 10 ways to use shoe organizers

  13. These are all great suggestions! I enjoy taking my children to yard sales with me saturday mornings for one on one time. I usually let them get something very small at each one we visit.
    Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds´s latest post: On Keeping It Simple

  14. Good ideas! I like how you said the authenticity appeals to kids. So true. Thank you for sharing!
    Archer´s latest post: To Sew Redemption


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lucy Banta NJ Family, Susan Heid. Susan Heid said: RT @simplekids The Second Time Around: Simple Yard Sale Treasures for Kids […]

  2. […] origami; suspense; thrillers; adventure; ipad; iphone; computers; google apps … View VideoGet The MOST Out Of Life Audiobooks For Children – REsearch And DevelopmentAnd make connections with…mages/thumbnail.aspx?q=1621818606039&id=15597997f3d328f6a96311e82da3db44" style="float:right; […]

Share Your Thoughts


We prefer humans! *

CommentLuv badge