10 toys from nothing helping China’s “left behind” children

In the absence of big budgets for store-bought toys – imaginations take over and what teachers and children can create from so little can be astounding.

These pictures were taken this summer in rural villages Chinese communities with OneSky village programs. OneSky’s aim is to help local children – many of which have been left behind by parents who travel to work – to develop and have fun. Left-behind children are cared for by grandparents who simply don’t have the time or energy for play.

OneSky’s early learning centers and the incredibly inventive teachers who run them, help prepare children for entering school when they turn six. These teachers know, even children with hard-luck beginnings, can still thrive.

And despite limited budgets – they still find lots of ways to have fun.

1.Shoebox racing

2.Waterbottle skittles

3.Jumping for the prize

4.Ball in the goal

5.Waterbottle wheelbarrows

6.Tank racing

7.DIY Croquet

8.Balance obstacle course


10.Milk tin roller races

Diana Chiu, Director of Development, Asia said:

“It’s very important to be able to adapt our work to all environments. This ensures that the curriculum will be more widely used, accepted and sustainable. With our training, it’s so heartwarming to see the transformation in teachers. Our support gives them the knowledge and tools to be carers and educators. They can engage happy, smiling children in educationally stimulating activities that will encourage their growth and development despite so few facilities.

OneSky’s work in rural China also includes community engagement and parenting skills training.