Want a gift that the kids will play with long past Christmas morning? Here are 8 toys and games to GIVE this season, recommended by FOFs who are serious about play.
FOF Sarah Baldwin spent 20 years as an elementary school teacher before opening Bella Luna Toys in 2002, an online shop specializing in Waldorf toys. The Waldorf method emphasizes the role of imagination in learning, and the toys are designed to do the same, from modeling clay and “dress up silks” to a gorgeous wooden dollhouse fit for faeries. Sarah blogs about parenting, education and play at Moon Child.
1. Waldorf Rocker Board, $129.95
“Rocker Boards are extremely popular in Waldorf classrooms for their developmental benefits and great open-ended play value. They can ‘become’ a boat, a bridge, a slide or a cradle. They also help develop a child’s sense of balance and core strength, but kids just know they are fun!”
2. Play Silks from Sarah’s Silks, $14.50
“Large squares of colored silk were a staple in my classroom. It may not look like a ‘toy,’ but children play with them in so many ways! They become capes, headdresses, belts, skirts or a baby blanket for a favorite dolly. A blue silk can become a pond or a lake for a child’s small toys; a green silk may become a grassy meadow. The possibilities are endless!”
3. Modeling Beeswax, $21.95
“Sweet-smelling, colored beeswax makes an ideal modeling medium for children. It never dries out and is reusable. After warming up the wax in your hands, it becomes pliable and can be molded into people, animals, trees, butterflies–you name it! As it cools, it hardens, but can later be warmed up again, and molded into new forms.”
4. Twig Studio Wooden Doll House, $299.95
“With multiple levels and a variety of charming details, it makes a home for a dollhouse family, or a hideaway for gnomes, fairies and wooden animals. It also comes in a smaller version.”
FOF Mara Kaplan is a mom and an advocate for children with special needs. Her consulting company, Let Kids Play, makes sure playgrounds and toys are accessible and fun for all kids. You can find more recommendations on her blog, LetKidsPlay.
5. Tegu Blocks, $110 and up
“These beautifully-made wooden blocks have magnets in them, making it easier for a child to build without knocking the blocks down accidentally. Perfect for children working on fine motor skills. Plus, Tegu donates a portion of their proceeds to plant trees in Honduras or fund a day of school for a child in Tegucigalpa.”
6. Green Toys’ Sandwich Shop or Pizza Maker, $22.04
“Sandwich Shop and Pizza Maker are the newest additions to Green Toys’ eco-friendly line. Each toy comes with over 15 realistic pieces, made in the USA from food-safe, 100-percent recycled plastic milk containers. While serving you lunch, your child is working on writing, memory, speech, and many other cognitive skills.”
7. Brain Noodles, $14
“Brain Noodles are fluffy, fiber stems that resemble jumbo pipe cleaners. They bend and twist anyway you want, are easy to hold and manipulate, and provide a unique sensory feel which many children love. Your child can make simple or complex sculptures without making a huge mess.”
8. Rubbabu Toys, $11.95 and up
“Rubbabu makes vehicles, balls, shapes and blocks that children can easily grip and catch. All made from 100-percent biodegradable, all-natural rubber. They also bounce! Perfect for improving motor skills and hand-eye coordination.”
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