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My sister-in-law gets me. Or, at least, she gets what are really great toys for kids (she evaluates preschools for a living, so she should) and buys the most excellent presents for my kid. Things I would want to get her myself if I took the time to find them.
Before the Bit was born, I said that I wanted her to have as few plastic toys as possible. She’s had a bunch, but not nearly to the extent that a lot of kids do. She has more blocks and musical instruments and puzzles than she has plastic toys (though she does love her toy “computer” of course). But every now and then (usually after a holiday) I am reminded how much I love the basic toys, and how much she does, too.
(Remember the cloud dough? She’s still playing with it. Also, food-coloring spiked rice, which I’ll tell you about tomorrow.)
Last weekend we finally got together with my sweetie’s sister for “Christmas” (really his mom’s birthday, but we exchanged our gifts there). She got the Bit some books, of course, and also these:
I know that these are Tree Blocks, which they sell with and without bark (ours are barkless). The Bit has homemade tree blocks at daycare, so she knew just what to do with these.
I’m not sure where the animals came from. She said they were from “someone who makes Waldorf toys.” I know they’re finished with beeswax, so if my kid were still chewing on things we’d be golden.
I love these toys. And really I love all sorts of Waldorf toys. (If you don’t know Waldorf, basically it involves really basic, handmade toys that allow the child to use her imagination as much as possible. So the dolls often have featureless or kind of neutral expressions on their faces, the toys are simple unpainted blocks of wood, etc. There’s a whole category on Etsy that will make your palms itchy. The Waldorf philosophy may be a topic for another post, but you know I love it because they teach every kid to knit. In first grade.)
I think it’s so wonderful to give kids a taste of the homemade (even if you didn’t make it yourself) and simple things that allow them to use their imaginations and come up with their own ways to do things. So much of what we do with our kids these days is driven by technology; it’s really refreshing to go in the opposite direction every now and then.
I got this book, Creative Play for Your Baby (which was not out of print when I bought it so I way didn’t spend $50 on it), long before the Bit was born, vowing that I was going to make her toys and give her all these great natural experiences. I’ve never made anything out of it (there’s a book for toddlers, too, that I’ll have to check out soon) but I’m feeling newly motivated to try. Not that she needs any more toys right now…