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#1 of 18 Old 04-27-2010, 01:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been tossing up for years now about buying an expensive wooden kitchen and stable and dolls house for my little ones. More than anything I like the idea that they don't need a physical kitchen to play "kitchen" or a dolls house to play "house". I just don't want my kids to be "consumers" so I'm pretty strict about what they have in the way of "stuff". I know a waldorf homeschooler whose girls have 2 wooden crates - that's all. And some baby dolls. And apparently with the crates they can create almost anything. I love it. Whenever we travel around the world to "poorer" nations, I'm always struck by kids hanging out on the street playing so nicely with barely anything at all. A tin can maybe, a ball. KWIM? Anyway I'm still pulled in the direction of the gorgeous waldorf toys, but I wanna hold out. Any moms out there who are of the same view?

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#2 of 18 Old 04-27-2010, 02:12 AM
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yup.

i take a minimalist approach to toys. we don't have many, and we have more than enough to last many years right now: blocks, wooden train, wooden truck, a number of stuffed animals/dolls, spinning tops, beads-on-wire, and stacking toys. he also has a number of musical instruments (ukulele, african drum, toy xylophone, harmonica--and he is a good little musician!). he mostly plays with those instruments.

we are in the process of getting him a wishbone balance bike. it's a bike that starts as a trike, then goes to a bike and grows with a kid from age 2-6. they are quite well made.

we strive to get things that he can use for many years, and just keep it minimal over time. for gifts, we have asked grandparents to focus on specific things that facilitate what we do--the yearly zoo pass, for example, or ukulele lessons. and, we keep gift giving rather minimal, too--one gift each at christmas or a birthday. something simple, usually, and well made. so, we can keep that pretty simple. we will probably focus it around instruments or art supplies or books down the line.

so, that's where we are.
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#3 of 18 Old 04-29-2010, 01:29 AM
 
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I'm kind of in between, as we have both structured and unstructured toys. I've found that with my dd sometimes a little structure gives her ideas for play and the unstructured ones are open to be used in any way she can think of. However, she even uses the "structured" ones flexibly--today, for example, a flashlight was an ice cream churn. Her dollhouse furniture has been used as jars for fairy jams. Music boxes have been scanners. Her play kitchen sink has been a compost pile for her horse. I think the reality is that kids play with whatever they have. Actually, the most used toys in our house are not toys at all, and of those that actually are toys they come from our miscellaneous toy basket that has totally random stuff in it--balls, a light up wand, paper towel rolls, cheap fairy wings, bean bags, etc. I wish my dd loved her more Waldorf-approved toys but she actually doesn't. I'm okay with that, though, since I've seen how creatively she plays with other things (like doorknobs--one of her favorite "toys"). However, with that said I have had a much harder time with other people giving us gifts. I can handle plastic and such but not character junk or bleepy push-button things. So far, I've been able to make most things disappear but I don't know how much longer that will last.

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#4 of 18 Old 04-29-2010, 07:41 AM
 
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I think it probably depends in part on whether this is a whole-family lifestyle. Do you also aspire to developing-world-level possessions for yourself? Does your partner?

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#5 of 18 Old 04-29-2010, 11:21 AM
 
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I don't think of extremes of any kind are good things to aspire to.

One of the benefits of being middle class in a developed country is that I can afford to buy my children good quality food; weather appropriate (and cute!); clothes; excellent health care; a home to live in, which may not be anyone's idea of a mansion but which is certainly a very nice little house in a very nice little town; a top notch education (whether at the local well-funded public school in said very nice little town, at a private school, or at home); and yes nice toys to play with.

Personally, there isn't much in the life of children playing on the streets in developing nations that I would envy for my children. I've worked with such populations in the past, and I literally can't think of a single aspect of their lives that I would want for my children. I buy my children a range of nice toys, and I have no guilt or qualms about doing so.

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#6 of 18 Old 04-29-2010, 12:27 PM
 
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I don't feel that buying a food good quality pieces that will last your child for years and years would promote consumerism. I do see a lot of consumerism in Waldorf, even though it does not fit with the philosophy. I mean, one child does not need 8 Waldorf dolls, bins and bins of wooden figures, every wooden doll house, stable, barn, castle, vehicles, etc. there is. But being aware of what you are buying and providing them with a few quality open ended toys shouldn't be a bad thing. If you're looking for things that promote even more imagination, why not get playstands instead of a play kitchen? They could use the shelves as a kitchen, store, boat..basically anything they wanted. Add in some blocks and plain dolls/figures and your children can let their imaginations soar.

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#7 of 18 Old 04-29-2010, 01:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by spiritofthings View Post
I've been tossing up for years now about buying an expensive wooden kitchen and stable and dolls house for my little ones. More than anything I like the idea that they don't need a physical kitchen to play "kitchen" or a dolls house to play "house". I just don't want my kids to be "consumers" so I'm pretty strict about what they have in the way of "stuff". I know a waldorf homeschooler whose girls have 2 wooden crates - that's all. And some baby dolls. And apparently with the crates they can create almost anything. I love it. Whenever we travel around the world to "poorer" nations, I'm always struck by kids hanging out on the street playing so nicely with barely anything at all. A tin can maybe, a ball. KWIM? Anyway I'm still pulled in the direction of the gorgeous waldorf toys, but I wanna hold out. Any moms out there who are of the same view?
Do you think for one moment that the kids from "poorer" nations that you have seen have any really choice in what they play with? They play with what is simply available. Given the chance they would more than likely jump at the chance to play with real honest to goodness toy, not tin cans. My bet also is that their parents would love to provide proper toys for their children but that would probably mean going without food or clothing.

Don't get me wrong, yes consumerism is prevalent in our culture and it is not a good thing but glorifying a situation where children want for basic toys isn't good either.
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#8 of 18 Old 04-29-2010, 03:02 PM
 
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I've got to agree with everyone else

Kids in third world countries don't want to have sticks and stones to play with - they have no other options. It isn't called living minimally, it's called extreme poverty. Given the chance, those kids would kill for "real toys" to play with.

As for the Waldorf homeschooler with some crates and dolls; I say good for them. One thing I can't stand about Waldorf is the bragging that can come along with it..ie: "my kid has a stick, a pebble, and one spool of thread and can play for HOURSSSSS..." That's just fine and dandy but that kind of minimalism scares me a little

There's nothing wrong [IMO] with buying beautifully, handcrafted toys. My DD has a wooden barn, animals, dolls + a cradle, a kitchen that's stocked and ready for her, and about 94505 million craft supplies. And I personally don't feel like we are hardcore consumers, or that she's spoiled.

I think more than worrying about your child being a consumer, is teaching her to appreciate the toys she has: to share, to love them, to care for them, and to give to charity when she's grown out of them.

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#9 of 18 Old 04-29-2010, 06:41 PM
 
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I have to admit I have fallen over and over again for the well-made natural-material toys for my children. I have spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars and it always amazes me when my kids play with the simplest of things: a ball, some rocks, worms, bikes, swings, dolls (yes waldorf ones!), acorns, MY kitchen stuff, REAL food etc.

Over time, I moved a lot of toys on to needy children because it proved to be too many toys for my kids! So, in that way, the minimalist mindset is a money-saver. I don't, however, feel guilty for what I can give my kids. I just want to find a balance where we are aware of the value of things we use day to day!

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#10 of 18 Old 04-29-2010, 07:14 PM
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for myself, i strive to live simply and minimally. of course, these are defined in different ways.

we are not poor.

yet, we choose to live in a one-bedroom apartment. currently, the only furniture that we have is our bedroom furniture. it is high quality, locally made, sustainable/organic. it was within our means. we have a king size bed and a high boy dresser that contains all of our clothing.

i have a simple kitchen. quite literally, we have the basics that we need to cook our daily meals. i use a lot of dried beans and whole grains in my cooking, as well as fresh ingredients. i do not have "one use" appliances (not even a toaster).

so, while i do not "aspire to developing world conditions," i do strive to live with less and live well. this process increases our wealth, but also our abundance and sense of creativity and possibility.

we are happy with this way of life. i do not feel that my son is lacking for anything that he needs or even wants, but we do not have a lot of 'stuff' for him or for us.

i keep a minimal, four season wardrobe for myself, my husband, and our son.
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#11 of 18 Old 04-29-2010, 08:11 PM
 
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Do you think for one moment that the kids from "poorer" nations that you have seen have any really choice in what they play with?
Yes, when I've worked with kids in a third-world country, they are SOOOO excited to see a real soccer ball or a jump rope!! They only play with tin cans etc. because that's ALL they have access to. It's not a choice, for them or their parents.

I do get what you're saying, OP, kids don't need an excessive number of toys and certainly they will be forced to be more creative with fewer toys but I don't think having NO toys is necessary... I think a few good, solid, built-to-last open-ended toys would be fun for your kids, the same way it's fun for you to have a computer and a stereo and stuff like that. Then you can just give them wooden crates to play with the rest of the day.

DS is only 15mos and has wayyyy too many toys already. He doesn't play with most of them, he prefers rocks and sticks and empty coffee cans. I'd like to get rid of a lot of them but they were gifts from people that visit often & hopefully he'll be more interested several months down the line...

Anyway, in response to your original question, I think a dollhouse, kitchen, etc. would be great for your kids... but I don't think they necessarily need to be "expensive" -- and especially if money is an issue, something simple, maybe even handmade, would be just as fun for them -- you could build a nice dollhouse out of crates, maybe even involve them in the building of it.

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#12 of 18 Old 05-03-2010, 08:41 AM
 
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Originally Posted by spiritofthings View Post
I've been tossing up for years now about buying an expensive wooden kitchen and stable and dolls house for my little ones. More than anything I like the idea that they don't need a physical kitchen to play "kitchen" or a dolls house to play "house". I just don't want my kids to be "consumers" so I'm pretty strict about what they have in the way of "stuff". I know a waldorf homeschooler whose girls have 2 wooden crates - that's all. And some baby dolls. And apparently with the crates they can create almost anything. I love it. Whenever we travel around the world to "poorer" nations, I'm always struck by kids hanging out on the street playing so nicely with barely anything at all. A tin can maybe, a ball. KWIM? Anyway I'm still pulled in the direction of the gorgeous waldorf toys, but I wanna hold out. Any moms out there who are of the same view?
Hmmmm, I don't think I took this post the same way many of you did. I see it as a honest question, perhaps because I have pondered and worked out the same ideas myself.

Our limitations come from space... living on a sailboat there is NO physical way for my son to have many of the lovely Waldorf standards like the play kitchen or amazing wooden castle or dollhouse. Not to mention, i just can't seem to justify the expense for our budget. I think if you have the money and the space, they are wonderful toys to have and I would bu the quality Waldorf ones over the crappy plastic alternatives. But I think a Waldorf inspired home could get along FINE without them.

I used to feel guilty because I know my son would LOVE a Kinderkram castle like crazy. But then I see him creating amazing little play scenes with his tree blocks and shells and silkies and his imagination. And even though those beautiful play kitchens and castles are well made and will last for generations, they are still "stuff". And kids truly don't need a lot of stuff. He still plays kitchen, in the real kitchen alongside me or with his shells and coconuts and jars and buttons and wool. A felted apple is a felted apple, but a coconut shell is an apple, a boat for gnomes, a cave, an instrument, drinking cup, etc etc. That just makes sense to me.

I think you choose what works for your family and your space and your budget and your little one's passions and follow your heart.

Mama to Zach 6-18-04 & Naia 10-13-10 Partner to the sweetest DH. Loving our life afloat. TV Free!
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#13 of 18 Old 05-03-2010, 10:13 AM
 
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I think you could do a playstand with a burner attachment. That way, they have the "kitchen" and still have something that is completely open ended. I did not hold out. And our children do have too much stuff. So, we pretty much have a moratorium on toy purchases over here.

It's also easy to get carried away with the animals and the kitchen plates, tea servings, food, pots, pans, and other do-dads.

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#14 of 18 Old 05-15-2010, 01:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ironic as it is as the op for this thread, that evening after I posted the thread I saw an elves and angels as well as a nice dolls house on craigslist. Yes, I bought 'em!! I don't know who's happier, my kids or me! The kitchen hasn't been touched by the kids really but is a lovely rosewood looking color that matches my kitchen. Ha ha! And the dolls house still pretty much remains unused. Maybe I had an inkling that this would happen. Oh well. (sigh)

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#15 of 18 Old 05-17-2010, 10:48 AM
 
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I used to feel guilty because I know my son would LOVE a Kinderkram castle like crazy. But then I see him creating amazing little play scenes with his tree blocks and shells and silkies and his imagination. And even though those beautiful play kitchens and castles are well made and will last for generations, they are still "stuff". And kids truly don't need a lot of stuff.
This is true of my experience as well. I know the OP worked out a nice solution but I just wanted to comment on how encouraging it is to see my son use his own imagination and simple materials to make some of the bigger-ticket kind of play items. Not to misrepresent myself, my son has plenty of toys to play with, but there was certainly a time when I felt guilty about not being able to give him everything beautiful under the sun. Looking back, I think that was to his benefit in many ways.

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#16 of 18 Old 05-17-2010, 05:53 PM
 
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Ironic as it is as the op for this thread, that evening after I posted the thread I saw an elves and angels as well as a nice dolls house on craigslist. Yes, I bought 'em!! I don't know who's happier, my kids or me! The kitchen hasn't been touched by the kids really but is a lovely rosewood looking color that matches my kitchen. Ha ha! And the dolls house still pretty much remains unused. Maybe I had an inkling that this would happen. Oh well. (sigh)
can't say I didn't warn ya Hey, at least you got it at a bargain!

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#17 of 18 Old 05-19-2010, 08:53 PM
 
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I love this discussion.

For the past 2 weeks we've been moving/vacationing/in-transition and living out of suitcases and in several different hotels. Here is what I packed:

-Rainbow stacking toy
-2 play silks
-2 matchbox cars
-toob of plastic sea creatures with a few sea shells
-sketchpad and crayons

All of this takes up very little space and I swear he's playing more than he plays at home. Right now one piece of the stacker is a boat that is ferrying the car back and forth between buildings. Usually its a garage, a mountain, a tunnel, etc. The fish are versatile and make great bath toys. Yesterday we used pennies to make a road for the car. It will be interesting to see how long the vibrancy of this play lasts before have to add something new, but so far we haven't hit boredom. Oh yeah, and none of these toys are new - we've had them for a year or more. It's certainly convinced me that my son could get by with a lot less.
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#18 of 18 Old 05-20-2010, 12:15 AM
 
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My daughter and her husband created a play kitchen for the daycare she used to run. It was simple and worked really well for the kids.

They took a board about 3 or 4 feet long and cut a round hole in one end. A stainless steel bowl fit in as the "sink". The board had supports at each end. Above the board, attached to the wall were a couple of small shelves. The kitchen toys consisted of old pots and pans, some wooden eggs, a few miniature potholders that she sewed up, some nice cloths, a few wooden bowls--basically whatever could be repurposed.

This very simple set up was happily used by all of the kids who came to the daycare.

At the other end, the public library that I direct has playstands (with silks) in the children's area, nice blocks, a little wooden castle with lots of little people in costumes, hand puppets, puzzles, a rainbow stacker...

The local children love coming to the library and zoom towards the kid's area. The touch of waldorf has been a big hit.

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