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Tuesday, 8 March 2011
Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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Good toys are the tools of childhood, and play is its work.
If I had to choose 10 things to put into my ideal playroom, these are what I would choose.

Unlike most mass produced toys, which are specifically targeted to age groups and developmental stages (and then outgrown), most natural toys are intended to span the early years, evolving in use as the child grows. They are lead by the child and her imagination, therefore they meet her needs in each age and stage as she experiences them.

playsilk, toy, natural, felted wool , children

And while natural toys are not cheap~ most being made with organic and sustainably resourced materials such as wool, silk and wood~ a simple few toys that will last for years (and even generations) will save you money (and the planet a little bit) in the long run. AND save you from that feeling that you are about to be buried in an avalanche of toys at any moment... Less is definitely more!

As a parent and a natural toymaker, these are my top 10 picks for toys that will span early childhood and delight you and your child (and if you have more than one child, several at once can play!) with their  versatility, beauty and ability to spark imagination.  


Top Ten Natural Tools for the Work of Play


#1 Playsilks: Look for quality silk that is 8 mm (momme) or higher, dyed with non-toxic, low impact dyes. They come in many sizes and variations, but to begin, for best value and a staple for play, the 35" size will be the most serviceable. Large enough to cover an infant or hang in their window, to be a toddler’s cape or picnic blanket, and a preschooler’s hot lava from the volcano.Starting with a rainbow is ideal. At the most basic, blue, green and brown will provide most landscape needs! Solid, speckled, tie dyed... the choice is yours! 
playsilk, play silks, natural, toy, waldorf, play, child, kids, silkie

#2 Wooden beads: Natural wooden beads are a great staple. Size will depend on the age of your child (if it fits through a toilet paper tube it is too small for the under 3 crowd). Wide enough holes for bulky yarn is helpful. Painted or unpainted is your choice. The most natural path would be wood be wooden beads with a beeswax finish. But painted and colorful beads lend themselves more easily to sorting, color recognition and counting games (paints and finishes should be AP certified non-toxic).

#3 Wooden Stacker: Look for shaped stackers that can work as stacking puzzles and as separate toy pieces~ a rainbow is ideal because it breaks apart into 6 or 7 distinct arches for rockers and caves and bridges and more... Also look for the widest possible base for least frustration. A 1" wide stacker stands sturdily even during boisterous play, any less can be very frustrating to young ones (and grownups, too!). Again, beeswax is a great finish but there are lots of oils that do a great job, too. If you like something colorful, ensure the paints and finishes are safe.

#4 Quality Art Supplies (Writing): Crayola crayons still rock. You can also try beeswax crayons,they write with a little more resistance (great for kids needing to develop better fine motor control for printing) and they blend naturally like paints. My child is a big fan of oil pastels for their smoothness and blending. Whichever way you go, invest in the quality (try your local art store) and take good care of them and they will last and prove satisfying for young artists.

#5 Quality Art Supplies (Painting): While you are at the art store, pick up a basic watercolour set along with several affordable brushes. Watercolours blend beautifully (and don’t have that tempera stink!) and depending on your choice of paper, can remain ‘open’ longer for young artists to think and dream as they paint. A row of jars work perfectly for blending and storing the paints (commercial paint sets are also available with watercolour containers). To save a little money, we reuse gift wrap and purchase rolls of it on sale after Christmas for creating large canvases to use with crayons and paints.

#6 Tree Blocks : Natural tree blocks are wonderful! Look for a variety of shapes and sizes for maximum building fun. Our set at home is made of fallen wood and is heavily shellac covered to stand up to anything while keeping the beauty (and the bark) intact.

#7 Peg Dollies: A basic set of dollies is easy to make yourself with wooden pegs from a wood supplier or even the hardware store, but you can purchase a wide variety of bendy and solid dollies to suit every play situation. Clothing that comes off and natural hair are best saved for the preschool group, while simple wooden peg dollies, painted or natural, work well for supervised toddlers.

#8 Dress Up: See playsilks!

#9 Since I sort of cheated on #8, I will suggest a basket of themed toys suited to your particular child(ren).  For my daughter, her bin of wool play food has seen 4 years of solid use, as have her wooden animals.  A quality collection of food, animals, cars, trains and so on, will add dimension to all sorts of child's play.

#10 A best friend: Whether it is a custom made Waldorf doll by an artisan of your choice (all natural materials, soft, warm and wonderful!) Or the raggedy lovey from infancy (my daughter keeps ‘Puppy’ in her cubby at kindergarten every day), a best friend is important and the possibilities are as vast as your child’s imagination.

I have pictured toys from our own collection because, well, I have the rights to the photos! But a search on Etsy (try 'naturalkids team'), or for 'natural toy store'  with your favourite search engine will turn up any and all of these wonders for you in your search to find what works best for your home and family.

Have fun and play lots ♥

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 8 with all the carnival links.)

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Playsilks are the #1 most played with toy in our house. We used to be pretty good with the natural toys only, but slowly the plastic crap has been creeping in. With a 5 year old DD it s really hard to get rid of the Ponies, Strawberry Shortcake, etc... Especially since DD forms very strong attachments to her *stuff*.

I love that rainbow stacker that you have. Can I ask where you got it?

MJ said...

Oh your list made me want to go shopping!! I have considered playsilks for awhile...you may given me that push!

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

These toys are so beautiful - the colors are amazing!!

Gretchen said...

My daughter is only 5 months old, but I'm so excited for her to start enjoying toys! How old should she be before I introduce playsilks (those are my favorite)?

Lori @ Beneath the Rowan Tree said...

Thanks for stopping by!
Eevryone needs playsilks~ I don't say it because I sell them, seriously, they are the best and simplest toy!

For a 5 month old~ a big one is great for a light cover, a peeaboo game, hanging to flutter in a window and more... for toddlers, the 11" are fun to sort and stuff into bags and boxes (a Kleenex box is great!).

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

Your toys are GORGEOUS. I've really, really wanted some playsilks for a long time now — thanks for the tips on what to look for. I think I might try making some peg dolls, too!

We've mostly stopped using wrapping paper as well, and I was wondering what to do with the rest of it — now I know! And what fun that we'll have something handmade to wrap our gifts in next year.

CatholicMommy said...

Thanks for the suggestions! I'm looking forward to introducing these to my son as he gets a bit older.

Momma Jorje said...

What a cool list, thanks so much! And I often see play silks mentioned, but don't know much about them. I'm going to check them out on YouTube to see what kids tend to do with them. :-)

melissa joanne said...

What a fantastic list! We definitely take the "less is more" path in our home, but I have been wanting to enrich my daughter's environment with more objects that inspire her and you have given me some wonderful ideas!

mom2girls said...

What a wonderful list - if I had it all to do over again, I would buy alot less than I did - toy wise, and always of the best quality - that is what my girls LOVE. They adore Plan Toys, (and playmobile LOL) my youngest is 6 and never stops building forts right now, I am thinking of getting her some playsilk for Easter - but we are on such a tight budget, we will have to see. SO lovely though!

Mary Michael said...

Love the play silks idea--my daughter will go nuts for those!

Seonaid said...

These are beautiful. I'll definitely be adding some playsilks to the dress up box. Although they might be playcottons where I live. :)

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