1. Find the toys. Have the kiddos choose toys that are on the small side–they’ll be hanging around their necks, after all! I’ve had the best luck when I’ve asked my kids to pick toys that they love but don’t play with a lot. For instance, my older kid REALLY loves that frog that you see above, but a frog is kind of a hard critter to incorporate into the the types of imaginary games that she plays, so it’s perfect for a charm.
2. Glue on a clasp. You can use stash jewelry findings, or parts from a broken piece of jewelry. Instead of a bail, which is what you would usually choose for a pendant, use a clasp that you can open without having to unthread it from your necklace or bracelet.
Although it seems non-intuitive, don’t use jewelry glue for this project. We tried that at first, but kids aren’t gentle, and they would torque the clasp right off of the toy while they fiddled with it. Instead, use a very strong glue, such as E6000, and let it cure well before giving it to the kids.
For certain toys without a good flat space to glue a clasp, like this dinosaur, you may prefer to put a little hole in the top of it with a Dremel or x-acto knife, then insert the clasp and glue it.
3. Modify a necklace. If you don’t already have a necklace to use, you can take apart a chain and put the links back together to make a necklace for a child. Use two pliers to open a link, and use the pliers again to close the link when you have the correct length of chain.
Instead of using another clasp, I like to make necklaces that the kids can slip over their heads. Clasps that they can’t see are frustrating, and they enjoy wearing their necklaces more when they’re easy to put on and take off.
You can use this same method to make charms out of a variety of objects, not just toys–Scrabble pieces, fossils, broken jewelry, ceramic unicorns, vintage buttons, interesting hardware, cool keys, mosaic tiles…