Homemade toys are still very much alive

Yes, for many kids here in Jamaica homemade toys are all they have.

These toys are not the latest fads...far from it as a matter of fact.

But, whether they were made by the parents or the children themselves, the kids still manage to have a lot of fun with them.

These creative kids can make a toy out of anything they can get their hands on.


The "gig" or formally called a "top" was one of my favorite toy growing up. Usually made from scratch with branches from the Lignum Vitae tree, which by-the way is our national flower, oops!

We use a sharp knife to shave it down, and shape it at the same time. Then we smooth it off with sandpaper.

When the sanding is done, we put a nail in the bottom for the point and voila! You have your gig. Wrap your cord around it and you're ready to play.

Wondering whether anyone ever gets cut from the knife? Heck yes! We got some really cool cuts as kids, but it wasn't a big deal for me.

I would go to my dad and if there weren't any band-aids at home, dad would just wrap my finger up with a clean piece of cloth, and I went right back to finishing my gig.

Making these homemade toys could be a pain sometimes. Want to hear something funny?

Yes, sometimes after all that work getting the branch from the tree, shaving it down and attempting to put the nail in for the point...Pop!

It would break in two. There goes your hard work down the tube. The other kids have a field day laughing at you. It's all in good fun. Every dog has its day. Here on the island they say "every dog have dem day."

homemade truck

Juice box

Homemade toys were also made from juice boxes. A truck could be made from an empty juice box by punching two holes in it.

One on the side close to the top, and another one on the same side close to the bottom all the way through.

Two pieces of sticks equal in size and length, are placed through the holes in the juice box.

Then, the plastic spool from cotton thread is placed on the four ends to make the wheels. At the top, which is the part you would drink from, you would tie a piece of cord, Wow! It’s time to hit the road by pulling on the cord.

Empty juice boxes would also be stuffed and used as a ball. These were good for games like 'dandy shandy'

Wooden toys

boys with truck

Older boys, like preteen or early teenagers, would make wooden toys like trucks. Pieces of boards and nails would be use to put them together.

Sometimes they would even paint these trucks. I must say, when they were done they were quite fascinating.


Kites were made from any kind of paper, preferably newspapers as we couldn't afford fancy kite paper, flour mixed with water served as paste and the veins from the leaf-like part "pinnate" of coconut trees would make up for the frame. I had some very fun memory of this homemade toy.


A swing is made by tying, both ends of a piece of rope to the strong branchof a tree in the yard, a mango or tamarind, is usually the tree of choice.

Place a piece of board 8" wide and about 18" in length in the u-shape part of the rope for the seat and start swinging. Awesome!

See Saw

The see saw is made by using a smooth piece of wood 2"x8" in width and 6 to eight feet in length, finding a tree that has a V-shape "like two separate trunks that merge at the bottom," and placing the smooth piece of wood in there and you are ready to go.

There are lots of fancy electronic Children toys these days, yet many kids here in Jamaica use these homemade toys as their primary toys, or go without one. Because their parents don't have the money to spare on the latest ones. homemade kitties

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