A friend recently gave Eva, my four-year-old, a gift from Toys-R-Us. I felt bad returning it because it was given with love. But I have made a concerted effort to have only natural toys in Eva’s room that I either make myself or purchase from natural toymakers, like those made by Etsy’s Naturalkids Team members. But these were plastic items from China. I just didn’t want them in my home, and Eva didn’t mind my exchanging them. But what would I find in the mega toy store?
What hit me first as I entered the door, was the smell of plastic off gassing. It was palpable and made my throat dry. How fast could I get in and out? I wondered. I asked the cashier, who automatically handed me a plastic card with my refund money on it, where the natural or wooden toys were. She shrugged ever so politely and offered that I look around. I took a tour of what seemed like a hostile faraway planet full of scary things. Dolls named Bratz, avengers of evil with guns that could obliterate a creature instantly and remorselessly. Palm sized computer games, infant toys that never stopped making noise, plastic junk food for pretend play, all packaged in plastic…Ok, if you’ve been reading my posts, you know where I’m going with this…Yes, there were bikes and carseats, but otherwise, it was a store 98% filled with “toys” that over stimulated, promoted a culture of fierce competition or violence, applauded unhealthy eating, and were in and of themselves toxic on one level or another, and polluting.
As the wonderful “Earth Ball” creation above by Cozycottagecreations, depicts, our children have the whole world in their hands. By choosing to fill those hands with natural, handmade toys and other items, a true reverence for our planet can begin and with the open ended nature of these toys, perhaps the imaginations of our children will be free enough to help them survive and revive the planet we have handed them.
Below is a discussion of some natural options for parents looking to choose more natural items for their children. All photos are courtesy of my fellow toy maker/artists from Etsy’s Naturalkids Team.
These toys don’t light up, but what they offer children is a tactile sense of safety, warmth, goodness, with a gentle appreciation of the natural world.
Who or what will the child discover behind Beneaththerowantree’s harvest fairy door?
Perhaps this little pixie:
Littleelfstoyshop’s forest elf with bird suggests a mischievous and humorous aspect to the mysteries of the natural world without cynicism. A child may interpret her expression as an impish, irresistible invitation to play… or will they just sit and chat together?
Perhaps she lives here. Or does the mouse rule this needlefelted domicile by Chimera? How sturdy, this wool home is; how beautifully crafted, and what a connection in makes to the nature world from which its materials came.
Instead of supplying and fast-triggered arson of weapons to save the world, Faerierebecca’s autumn nature table set is motionless, a simple gesture of sharing some of nature’s harvest. Is it an acorn, a leaf? The child can decide that, and the identity of this lovely needle felted creature. She has no moniker created by marketing companies, only an open face.
Wonderwull’s “Peace Angel” replaces the mechanical or computerized warriors against evil, with a quiet icon for peace. What hope she inspires in her silence. Out of that stillness, perhaps the small voice could still be heard.
What magical stories from the child’s own imagination could be written in the pages of Whimsomehollow’s felt book with moveable pieces?
Perhaps they are stories the child will retell to his or her “baby” while lulling it to sleep in Bellawinter‘s beautiful handmade, upcycled sling.
Whimsicalmom offers children an alternative to mass-produced art supplies. Together with her children, she created these “Sprite Scribblers-Vibrant Earth” upcycled, non toxic crayons in surprising color combinations, sure to ignite the imaginations of little ones as they draw a world they’d like to inhabit.
When children are provided with open-ended toys, from nature about nature, their imaginations grow, life skills are born and honed…who knows what they’ll create? Unwaveringfaith’s 12-year-old son crafted this: Fairy furniture; A gift back to the natural world.
Freedomrainbow’s shop provides lots of natural “reike” dolls for children, while her sister shop, Rainbowlotusnaturals offers parents choices which literally surround children in natural goodness and the opportunity make creative decisions. In her own words, this “cloak is a dress, sweater, jacket, and poncho all in one! All natural and recycled, it is so healthy for your little pixie and the planet she is from!”
In the morning or after a long day of play, Truevineherbs bath soap surrounds children with nature in a different way, cleaning their little, growing bodies with natural, safe and gentle soaps, like this one, made from natural ingredients from the earth.
What lovely alternatives to the megabranded megadistributed products. These are all items your children can breathe around and breathe life into.
After an hour of wandering the aisles of Toys-R-Us, searching for something I could bring home that supported my values, I finally found a little wooden train set, which Eva was thrilled to have. But I hope to never have to step foot in another
one of these chain stores again. I looked at the other parents roaming around, trying to buy toys that would do right by their children, but unwittingly purchasing toys which would pollute their homes, the planet when they are thrown away and potentially the very minds of their children. I am fortunate to know there are natural alternatives to the products found there and the messages they convey. I am blessed with the ability to create the lovely wool items which I both give my daughter and provide to others through my shop (nushkie.etsy.com,) as well as have the variety and high level of craftmenship available to me through shops I referenced here, as well as other Naturalkids Team shops. Now, perhaps, there will be a growing number of parents who will know they have natural alternatives and share this information with their friends.
All of the Naturalkids Team artisans strive to create toys, clothing, soaps and other items for children that are good for this generation and generations to come, because when these things go back to the earth, they are simply returning to the natural world from which they were made.
We do have options. Let’s keep the world we place in the hands of our children natural, healthy, lovely and fun, just like the world we strive to live in.
Thank you for reading. ‘Til next time!