I must be failing as a parent because I get asked (almost DAILY) why we don’t have a jungle gym, a trampoline OR a dog. My poor kids – so deprived. Dare I tell them we’ve just FILLED IN the pool allowing us to do some renovations… I think I’ll keep that to myself.
Meet Blue Route, Clayden’s first pet – a caterpillar.
So when the 3.5 year old waddles in with his “Hey mom, why don’t we have a jungle gym, a trampoline OR a dog?” I answer with “Because you have a real live construction site in your backyard. Do any of your friends have THAT?” (Truth be told, his friend Alex at school also has a construction site for a backyard but he doesn’t know that). “Also”, I often continue, “you go to school on a FARM with a ga-zillion animals and have an overwhelming array of climbing, jungle gyming, bouncing, riding, sliding, playing, messing and creative equipment. Sooooo there.”
While yes, the time will come for us to acquire such developmentally essential apparatus, now is not that time (and when that time does come I’m fairly sure hubby will come up with his own plan on how we’re going to build it ourselves – he’s like that). Our kids are not starved for these things, and so they shall wait. But it does beg the question, (as their birthdays are not far off…) the big one around… TOYS.
So I referred to Wellness Mama, my trusty role model on all things natural and thought through. Here are some of the things she has suggested (which do not include garden play equipment or live animals).
1. Basic Wooden Natural Toys
“By far my favorite toys, especially for little ones. I love finding handmade wooden toys at farmers markets or on Etsy. My boys especially love the handmade wooden swords, shields and knives from Frost Lane on Etsy.”
I love Hape, Melissa and Doug and other wooden varieties often available at Toy Kingdom. I really do try my best to buy higher quality non-plastic toys, but in reality, it’s not always that easy.
“I’m a huge fan of toys that encourage creative play. Legos are one of the only plastic toys we have, and I make the exception because they encourage hours of imaginative play. For little kids, plain wooden blocks are a great thing to have on hand.”
For my friend Beth’s baby shower in Vancouver, hubby and I cut and sanded 52 small wooden blocks and, as an activity, had all her shower guests paint them with a letter of the alphabet, and then I varnished them with a toxic free varnish. We made 2 sets, one for her, and one for us. Heaps of fun (and nostalgia). Jenga is also a goodie as the kids get older.
3. Dress Up
“We have a variety of play silks that the children use for dress up and imaginative play, as well as many homemade costumes. I’ve found that these encourage hours of creative play at our home. Melissa and Doug also makes a great line of dress up costumes.”
My oldest doesn’t LOVE dressing up, but we do try encourage it from time to time. The best is when he is a shepherd or king for the family nativity play at my in-laws every year and we use towels, dish clothes, rope and old pieces of this and that to get the 12 cousins dressed their part. Good memories.
4. Wooden Trains
“A huge favorite at our house. I’ve found some great wooden trains and tracks on Craigslist and at yard sales and we also have this set.”
5. Craft Bins
“I love having pre-made activity and craft bins that I can pull out and do with the kids. I’ve chronicled many of our favorites on this Pinterest board. We also have a wooden tabletop easel for drawing and painting.”
An easel with new drawing stuff! That’s a good present idea for this year.
6. Musical Instruments
“This one isn’t for the feint of heart. Seriously. If you have more than one child, musical instruments can quickly turn a room of otherwise quiet children into a rock band that rivals a crowded stadium in sound levels. Instruments are, however, really fun for children.”
You can find a lovely arrange of plastic-free instruments.
7. Bow & Arrows and Slingshots
“Such are the things boyhood is made of. Carved wooden slingshots are a favorite with my boys and they love shooting wooden bow and arrows at the trees in the backyard.”
Yikes – I’m not sure if I’m ready for bows and arrows quite yet – but I’m sure we’ll get there. Right now, all they could possibly do is cause harm and instill terror in me.
How about you? Any gems that you’ve found (that isn’t cheap plasticy nonsense)? Share share, please!
Oh my gosh – a TREE HOUSE! Now, hubby, let’s get on that!!