Sunday, February 7, 2016

The "Good" Toy Successes and Failures

You all know we strive to bring in toys that aren't so plastic-centric and that are open-ended.  The importance of play is HUGE.  You can even get a PhD in that area since it's so crucial to kids' development.  We tend towards the Waldorf sensibility given their successes in the aforementioned areas.  Some things we we have brought home have been well-received and often used while others just "look nice."  Here's a quick run down. (Also, some of these things are rather expensive, and I'd like to reflect here what was worth the money.)

Play silks: mixed review.  Glad we have them sometimes (and they don't take up much space): we use them for make believe sometimes, with our dress up sometimes, we wrap gifts in them.  Still, they don't use them as much as we hoped (and still hope?).
Wooden cradle and stroller: good purchases!  They aren't used daily, but they are used often.  They girls have soft Waldorf dolls, stuffed animals and some clothes to put on them too.

Wooden Curvy Board: amazing reception--used daily.  For something so simple, it has been very physical and has inspired very interesting games.  We like to use it to just to work our legs/hips.  Worth the money!
Wooden Play Stands: absolutely beautiful, but they take up a lot of room.  If we had a larger space, they'd probably still be okay.  As it is, the shelves are taken out of the shed only to house seedlings come Spring.  They create a warm play space, but the girls didn't maximize their possibilities at all when they were out and were crowding our space.  Sometimes we set them up in the yard with a large silk on a pretty Spring day.  (Still, we're more likely to hang up the hammock though and lay on it as a family under our grandfather oak tree.)
Yoga Hammock: daily use!  Yay!  I'd like them to do more things than they currently do in it, but it rarely comes down.  Worth the expense!  I can't say enough about hammocks in general (especially those that hug the body--great for calming down after a day of sensory overload, great for more than just sensitive children).  We have a hammock chair on the front porch that also gets a lot of use.  If you're considering a hammock chair/pod that hangs like this in bedrooms, I'd go for it.
Fake Cash Register: a bust. Glad it wasn't expensive--they hardly gave it a go.
Musical Instruments (Variety of real things).  At times, these were fun.  When they were younger, we had jam sessions etc., but they mainly collected dust.  The exception is the lovely little cassio keyboard that fits under our end table.

Wooden Kitchen Set.  We finally parted with it so some other family could enjoy it.  They just didn't get into the whole playing house/food thing.  I'm not sure why.  As kids we played all that a lot.  But they also have ignored their lightbright which Eric and I used endlessly as children.
Legos: still rockin'!  We get a little put out that they seem to just want "sets" with instructions to build just certain things.  But, E in particular likes to build her own ideas.  Z is starting to admire that more also.
Magnetiles: huge success!  To get a decent amount, it's an investment, but we find it to be worth it.  These aren't in daily use, but they can spend a lot of time digging into them either alone, with each other or with us.
PicassoTiles 100-Piece Set Magnet Building Tiles
Dress Up stuff and Art Supplies: always in demand and used!  We have to go through both regularly to make sure we're not just holding onto parts that aren't in use, but we share or donate those if so.  I think they'll be in rotation a long time.  We also finally moved the dress up stuff into the bench that closes to simplify our space.  (This wonderful spinning rack my parents got goes into one of the girls' closets and houses all sorts of helpful things--as it was, it took up space, and we got tired of looking at it.)

Doll House and Castle: used some.  I can't get a sense of this one 100%.  The castle is a Melissa and Doug piece, and they use our peg doll princesses from etsy and other figures (mostly wooden, some plastic like My Little Ponies) there and in the Melissa and Doug dollhouse.  I would rather (and E also says she'd prefer) a more empty/open dollhouse that you have to define each time you play.  Here's an example of an improvement if we ever replaced it (alongside the one we actually have).  Related here are wooden figures like Ostheimer toys--those are loved, held, smelled, cherished etc. when playing.

Puzzles and Games: heavy rotation!  One discovery as a parent is cooperative games like Wildcraft, Yoga Garden and Orchard.  We LOVE those.  Any games are used here though--even competitive ones.  Z does advanced puzzles--the girls and Eric are really into those.  Family games are very important time to us and very sought after.  Family games don't have to be traditional either.  We play art passing/doodle games and make up obstacle courses inside even with music.  Those things seem to mean soooo much to our kids.

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