It's Only A Paper Plate

Sometimes Simple Things Work Best

Paper Plates Make a Great Toy!. kieran wills/ Getty Images

It’s not just a paper plate. It can be much, much more. I discovered this when I served Parker, my African Grey a snack on a plain old white paper plate. Turns out he had more fun winging that plate around than any interest in the snack. The first time I gave him a paper plate as a foot toy in his house, he played with it for about an hour. It was hilarious watching him do this and I realized that he really liked big toys that were lightweight.

 

He jumped on it, winged it around like a frisbee, and chewed it around the edges. He carried it up to the top of his house, dropped it and leapt to the floor and attacked it again. Parker found so many ways to entertain himself with that paper plate, I started giving him one ever once in a while to play with in his house. 

The next thing I did was allow him to play with it on the floor. Essentially the same things happened but he found other things to do with it when he had more space. He began throwing it up the hallway and chasing it. Once he reached the plate, he would pick it up and throw it again, essentially playing fetch with himself. He would also throw it and attack it.

I found another variation of “The Paper Plate Game.” I would place him on the plate and drag the plate like a sled across the carpeting. He learned to balance and stay put, enjoying the ride and of course, the attention.

 

There seemed to be no end what he could do to entertain himself with a plain, white paper plate. 

However, I had some other ideas on how to vary this routine. One day Parker was in a mood. He didn’t want to come out and was simply feisty. He is rarely this way but on the occasion he is, I leave him alone to his own devices.

I pay attention to him and talk to him, but I don’t force him to do anything he doesn’t want to do. 

He seemed kind of grumpy and wanting to cheer him up, I stuck a folded paper plate through the bars of his house. Well! We were in for another round of “Attack The Paper Plate” but with a twist. He had to climb to the top and dislodge the folded paper plate from the bars before he could play with it. This was a challenge for him and kept him occupied for a while until he could figure out how to dislodge it. He then proceed to punish that plate and he took out his grumpiness on the plate rather than me. 

There’s endless toys you can make with them. You can simply put a treat on one, roll it up and tie it with some raffia like a burrito. They have to either chew through the raffia or rip through the plate to get to the treat. Since Parker loves almonds, I usually use an almond with the shell still on it so he has to not only get the nut out of the paper plate burrito, he has to shell the nut. This takes him a while but he sticks with it until the job is done.

If you’re handy, you can use a paper hole punch and make holes around the rim of two paper plates, partially lace it with raffia or hemp twine and insert some treat or foot toys along with shredded paper in between the plates before finishing the lacing task.

You can either hang it on a play gym or in your bird’s house or simply place it on the floor of the play gym or their house. 

Either way, the possibilities are endless with this paper plate concept. And if you think about it, there are many more things you could do to make a simple white paper plate a very entertaining toy.