Workshop#14 Toys and Family Values - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 45 Old 09-16-2009, 04:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Workshop #14 Toys and Family Values

Welcome to our Fourteenth Natural Family Living discussion: Toys and Family Values; This discussion will key in on
Part 5 – Family Matters from Peggy O’Mara’s book Natural Family Living.

Some of the topics we'll discuss are;

Chapter 19 - Toys and Family Values

The Stages of Play
  • Blocks: Back to Basics
  • Dolls: Free Reign of Imagination
  • Puppets: World's Oldest Actors

Educational Toys

Board Games

Invent Your Own Games

Neighborhood Games

Cooperative Play

Do Violent Toys Make Violent Kids?

Bitten By Barbie

Plastic Toys: A Health Hazard

Old Fashioned Birthday Fun
  • Keep it small
  • Keep decorations simple
  • Honor the Child
  • Give gifts from the heart
  • Offer special party favors
    • Candle
    • Soap
    • Bookmarks
    • Friendship bracelet
  • Give it a theme
  • Make it fun
  • Make it meaningful

Please join us in discussion on Toys and Family Values. We welcome everyone to share their personal experiences, what works for your family, your struggles and your ideas. This is an open dialog and we ask that everyone be respectful of others' opinions. Take what feels right to you and leave the rest behind. Please be respectful to all our members so that the workshop can be a place of meaningful and respectful discussion for all our members. If you have a favorite quote from Natural Family Living, please share it.

We would like to invite everyone to join us no matter where you are in your thinking or feelings. These discussions are meant to be nonjudgmental so please keep in mind when reading members' responses that this is a true discussion based on Natural Family Living and not a place to debate or criticize. For more ideas and information, please see our Parenting or Ages and Stages and Family Safety.

We’re excited to offer this workshop and hope it will give our members a glimpse into the grassroots of Mothering magazine and Natural Family Living.

This workshop will be facilitated by mandib50, Rhiannon Feimorgan and Abimommy. They are here to guide the discussion and keep it on topic. They will occasionally post references or ask questions to keep the conversation flowing. Please feel free to contact them at any time with questions, suggestions or concerns. Please keep in mind our workshop guidelines and current user agreement at all times.

We are compiling a Natural Family Living Resources Sticky which we will update with each workshop. Please feel free to refer to it for more information.

Not all those who wander are lost 
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#2 of 45 Old 11-03-2009, 11:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Welcome everyone to the latest workshop!

Not all those who wander are lost 
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#3 of 45 Old 11-04-2009, 12:50 AM
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Mother to L.O. born at home 10.17.08 EDD for #2 4.21.2011
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#4 of 45 Old 11-06-2009, 12:18 AM
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I'll start off with a question. The holidays are approaching and for many families this means toys.

What is your families favorite toy that they have received in past years. Why was this such a good toy.

Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.)0(
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#5 of 45 Old 11-07-2009, 07:55 PM
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This workshop caught my attention!

We are a young family so we are just working on creating traditions and setting standards for gifts. I feel like this year will be the best family gift as we are getting the kids a very nice wood kitchen that we have been saving for.

When we first had Lailah, I was very keen to keeping things very natural, beautiful and simple. But over the last three years things have multiplied and turned down the plastic path. I am working on culling through the kids toys right now to get rid of a lot and rededicate to our values.

Jessica, Single Mama to Lailah(4) and Christopher(2)
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#6 of 45 Old 11-08-2009, 02:36 PM
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I saw the link to Music Maestro II. That game looks like so much fun; I was wondering if anyone has it and what they thought of it? My DD is too little right now, but it may be a gift to look into for the future (if they sell it with CDs; we don't have a tape player).

We have just started playing games with my 2.5yo. Right now, our favorite game to play is CooCoo the clown, a simple balancing game.
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#7 of 45 Old 11-09-2009, 08:42 AM
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I found it easy to keep things simple until DS was about 3.5. We were all about wooden blocks, simple cars, dolls, sticks and rocks, lego. Then, suddenly, he started wanting all the toys he was seeing other kids play with -- PVC action figures, monsters, guns, etc. So my question is, what do you do when your child gets older and starts to want toys that do not fit with your values?

Globetrotting mama to DS (9) and DD (6)
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#8 of 45 Old 11-09-2009, 01:09 PM
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#9 of 45 Old 11-10-2009, 06:11 PM
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We have difficulty with relatives (um, grandparents) who insist on buying copious amounts of toys/crap. I send gift suggestions but they go ignored and we end up with the plastic with batteries version. When our little guy was very young, I would just regift them to toys for tots or something similar. But now, once he sees them, he has to open it and play with it. And he's gettign to the point where the toy can't "just dissappear" without him noticing.

I've tried having discussions with my mother about the overabundance of gifts and she just says, well you can take it back or give it away. Ummm, great now I get to be the bad guy.
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#10 of 45 Old 11-11-2009, 04:01 PM
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We lost the battle of "simple" long ago. WIth the twins, we've always gotten twice the stuff for birthdays/christmas. We don't buy stuff between those occasions, and we are just overrun. We've managed to direct some of the giving, and one grandma gives a museum/zoo membership for birthdays each year. That's a blessing. they've gotten a toy barn made by the other grandpa one year for christmas, which is a neat gift.

And it could be lots worse. The family is huge, and only one aunt seems bent on the quantity of things rather than the quality.

It is hard to donate/sell the kids toys. Every time I gather up things to remove from the house, the kids catch on to what I'm doing, and the banished toys become the new favorite.

Twin boys (2/05) and little sister (10/07)
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#11 of 45 Old 11-13-2009, 09:24 PM
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My favorite toy is my son's wooden kitchen that I made him. LOL, and it's actually his favorite toy too.

my toy shop on wooden baby keys, natural bathtub toys, wooden animals, little kitchens, waldorf dolls...also check out my blog about saving money, creating things, and natural living
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#12 of 45 Old 11-15-2009, 01:22 PM
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This looks like a fun workshop. We are holding strong here in the battle against commercial and toxic toys. Our biggest issue is the affordability of the toys, games and art supplies we would like to buy for our children. The economy has really taken its toll on our family and we haven't been able to buy much for our children this year.

What is your families favorite toy that they have received in past years. Why was this such a good toy.

I have to first put in a few votes for our favorite "board" games that have been played with weekly, if not daily, for years:

1. Corso Cannelloni
2. Geo Primo
3. Picobello
4. Orchard
5. Animal Yatzee (Tier Yatzee)
6. The Snowman Game (Schneemann)

We really wish we could add to the list with equally fun and beautiful games for our children who are begging for a bit more challenge. We are not keen on games of sabotage. We have tried some cooperative games like Harvest Time, but since they are not as beautiful, they have not become popular mainstays. We did get the following game, which is less beautiful and creative, but quite fun; you can play in a sabotaging way, but it's not essential:

7. Quirkle.

As far as staple toys, I highly recommend

1. play silks
2. musical instruments (definitely NOT the Melissa and Doug ones ~ a friend gave my dd a set and they don't even make music ~ truly horrible)
3. play kitchen and play food (we have discovered that we can make our own beautiful foods with felt ~ so much fun)
4. wooden blocks (we love the Haba and Selecta blocks)
5. wooden trains (this by far get the most play time by our girls ~ we have a Haba set)
6. puppets and stuffed animals
7. baby dolls.

Our children spend a lot of time doing art. We haven't been able to buy some of the supplies I would like bests, but we do fine with

1. copy paper
2. colored copy paper
3. construction paper
4. easel paper
5. scissors (including the starter scissors that open by themselves - those were so great when when our children were just starting)
6. glue sticks and school glue
7. clay, modeling wax and dough
8. felt, fabric, etc.
9. children's needle and thread
10. stamps and ink pads
11. beads and beadwork
12. paints, crayons, colored pencils, markers, pencils & erasers.

We did venture into plastic for the following great toys:

2. Step 2's Up and Down Coaster
3. Swings
4. Step 2's Big Slide.
5. Stompers
6. the 1972 version of Little People (we don't like the modern ones, and reusing quality old toys is just a great thing to do anyways)

For gross motor:

1. bicycles
2. roller skates
3. skooters
4. balance beam
5. doorway swing and trapeze
6. kids' rakes and snow shovels
7. sled and ice skates.

They have also really enjoyed building bird houses and bird feeders, growing plants, cooking real food, reading books and magazines and writing.

I'm not sure if that is specific enough to answer your question. I can come back and add brands if necessary.
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#13 of 45 Old 11-15-2009, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Rhiannon Feimorgan View Post
What is your families favorite toy that they have received in past years. Why was this such a good toy.
Our daughter is only 18 months, so our timetable is pretty short! However, what seem to be her v most favourite toys are her mini 11" x 11" play silks (they have become her lovies) and her kitchen stuff. Our sunroom is her playroom & her "kitchen area" is a shorter than average kiddie table w/ her stuff on it and under it. The only items I spent "real money" on were her felt foods and food-quality kids' cherry spoon. Everything else was either v low-priced kids' kitchen stuff from Palumba or actual kitchen stuff I picked up at the thrift store. Her kitchen area looks great and, aside from the couple pricey things, cost practically nothing.

We are Waldorfy when it comes to toys, so practically everything is wooden or cloth, mostly made in Europe or USA. We are also Christian, so it is important to us *where* and *how* our toys are made. Yes, we do have some made in China stuff, but we try to keep it low b/c of horrible labor practices. Dh and I would rather see things that are produced fairly come into our house, toys or otherwise. As our kids get older, I expect to loosen up some on the toys b/c they are going to have their own interests and desires, but we are still going to talk about labor, excess, treating people correctly, and using what you already have. Dh and I have already talked about having birthday parties for charity where guests bring food pantry food, pet supplies for the shelter, etc. Our pastor and his wife did these w/ their daughter as she was growing up & she is one of the most selfless, thoughtful, giving young people we know

This does not mean that I don't like toys. On the contrary, I LOVE TOYS. It's just that, like many other parents, I don't feel that my kids need 34981373 of them to be happy


DD (4.25.08)  DD (4.23.10)  DD (10.13.12)

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#14 of 45 Old 11-19-2009, 05:54 PM
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Great thread for this time of year!

We have 2 girls, aged 7 and 3.

Outside play:
rainbow system bought second hand. It gets a lot of traffic from our kids and their friends! Also outside, they ride skooters and bikes up and down our long driveway. Closer to the house is the sandbox which gets topped off every other year. We also have some landscaping closer to the house that is over grown (redo-ing outside landscaping in another year) and the kids play hide out in there. Its right under a window, so we hear all they are doing LOL.

in their rooms, is their books plus doll playing stuff. My mother loves buying American Girl stuff plus the books (which are good, dd likes) so the girls can spend a quiet afternoon or weekend day playing dolls etc. Sometimes they play doll Dr, nursery (dd2 spent time in nicu) or vet clinic with their stuffed animals I swear pro create on their own.

Basement play area:
where the toy area is. We can house 15 plus kids down there. BTDT, requires some planning and an extra set of hands. There is a kitchen area that DH built copying one I saw in a catalog. There is plenty of play food, pots pans etc. DD2 loves the M/D sushi set and the pizza set. This area gets hours of use. We have an alcove with shelves that house doll house stuff, barbie stuff, blocks, animal figurines, pollys, etc. The kids will pull out dollhouse, barbie house and barbies and get a huge play barbies thing going. If a boy is in the mix, he might set up the blocks and animals and use Ken to manage the zoo. We also have a box of instruments, guitars, play microphones etc.

We have a childsize rolling rack DH made for the costumes. There is the standard princess, uniforms, etc. Plus all the extra wigs, hats etc. We always have someone in something. Our neighbor boy is in the play area less than a minute and has that fireman outfit on.

Playsilks. We have a couple dozen in pastels and dark vibrant colors of the rainbow. I cannot say enough about these. They are played with in all kinds of ways. I could list 20 things and then this week, the kids will find yet again something else to do. And this is boys and girls who play here.

bilbos. Two big bowl things the kids spin in, fill with playfood, add a playsilk tied to it, bring outside it goes on and on.

Sounds like a lot of toys, but its a larger space. Its pretty easy to keep organized by using bins.

The kids want a "stage" to play on so DH is constucting this for xmas. I am making a curtain as well. I have noticed they like to pretend they have a cooking show, variety show or whatever. One day I heard them saying "and we are back today on the cake lady show..."

We did have trains but at some point they stopped playing with them. I am giving those to a neighbor for her 2 boys this xmas. They are in great shape so we are trading services.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#15 of 45 Old 11-19-2009, 05:58 PM
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Oh yes, we have the art and game closet. The kids use our kitchen table and draw or play clay etc.

Yes, my kids play w barbies but I have noticed its incoportated into all the other stuff most times. I spent my entire childhood playing with barbie and now my kids are doing it a bit. I have also noticed its more the setting up shop and all that they enjoy.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#16 of 45 Old 11-22-2009, 01:35 AM
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DS loves his Sprig toy that is made in Canada. It's eco-friendly too, and the characters don't have faces to encourage imaginative playing which is neat. He has the "sprigs hollow dune buggy" which comes apart and can be used as a shovel and rake. I want to get him the dolphin boat too so he can use it in the bathtub.

He also likes the Plan Toys "punch and drop" where you hammer the balls though the holes. When he was younger he liked pushing the balls through the holes with his hands and playing with the balls.

I really like the quality of the wood toys we have so far. I found a beautiful handcrafted wooden car at a thrift store for $0.25 which he also enjoys playing with.

Other than those, he really enjoys playing with bowls and spoons in the kitchen.

belly.gifMama to a Little Scientist (09/08) and our Ray of Sunshine (05/11).
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#17 of 45 Old 11-28-2009, 12:11 PM
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DS1 played a lot with the wooden puzzle set (m&d beginning pattern blocks, basic shapes in all diff puzzles) his gma got him from 21 months to 3.5 years, and good old tinkertoys from 2.5 on so far. Also, it's plastic but he'll play with toy animals a lot talking for them and pretending, and making them fences. I'm starting to make a wooden animal collection for him now. The playsilks I dyed get a lot of use too (yay!) I need to make more colors because it Really matters what color it is, red becomes lava, green becomes grass, they're all capes. DS2 is a baby, he just needs to be safe and loved. All his toys are just for shaking or chewing right now.

We get pretty good toys from grandparents. My dad doesn't shop he just asks for a weblink to what we want. DH's parents get melissa and doug or sometimes make handmade things. To them I just explained how we like things with no batteries that leave the playing up to the child, and natural materials are what we like best.

He loves art stuff but doesn't spend much time on it. He loves to help me bake. He likes to measure and hammer(mallet) while his daddy or I build things in the garage. I guess what we value in play and work is developing skills of all sorts.

We do play some violence on our own terms. Padded swords and shields for real sparring or pretend dragon hunting. He's allowed to play guns with the other kids and their toys but we talk about what real guns are for (like for hunting or target practice) and how dangerous they are and never to touch one. We're careful not to expose him to tv style wrestling or wild, violent superheroes. His dad swordfights in medieval reenactment. When DS1 is 5 he'll be allowed to swordfight as a sport with the padded weapons, we'll make some child sized lightweight armor for his birthday. DS2 too if he is so inclined. It's more a western martial art than violence, the difference is in the discipline I think. They could also learn wrestling and/or eastern martial arts when they are ready if they like, as well as ball games and such.

When they're older I fully intend to allow consensual, honorable fighting between my boys or them and their friends for fun and practice or even to settle disagreements. It's how young guys communicate sometimes and I will support that. When not blown out of proportion into real destruction it can be a good thing, weird as it is from my perspective.
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#18 of 45 Old 11-29-2009, 05:20 PM
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DS is too young to *really* be into toys, but this is such good info for the years to come!

Dirt worshiping, creatress Mama to Rowan and Alden - home birth loving, no circ, no vax, extended breast feeding, cloth diapering, baby wearing, cosleeping

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#19 of 45 Old 11-29-2009, 07:40 PM
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#20 of 45 Old 12-04-2009, 12:06 AM
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subbing and have lots to say should i ever get time to type.

SAHPilot Mama to a 5yoson, a 17 mo old daughter, and wife to .
Worried about your baby's head shape? PM me for craniosynostosis info!
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#21 of 45 Old 12-05-2009, 10:15 PM
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Subbing with a question/topic

I'm a first time mom to a nine month old who is quickly accumulating toys and now we have some that he no longer cares about (his 'first toys' aren't getting any playtime lately) so I'm wondering how do you deal with having a very few toys vs. a lot - do you have a system for rotating toys or storing ones away for future children as your child outgrows them?

Charlotte wife to B momma to Q 2/22/09
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#22 of 45 Old 12-06-2009, 01:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Carhootel View Post
Subbing with a question/topic

I'm a first time mom to a nine month old who is quickly accumulating toys and now we have some that he no longer cares about (his 'first toys' aren't getting any playtime lately) so I'm wondering how do you deal with having a very few toys vs. a lot - do you have a system for rotating toys or storing ones away for future children as your child outgrows them?
For toys that dd has outgrown, but that I still want to keep for future kids, I put them in a small bin in the attic. She definitely owns more toys than are actually out in her play room b/c I do rotate them. Things that are not getting a lot of play currently, or just to change some scenery, I will put things in a small bin or paper grocery bag & take them up to the attic. The frequency w/ which I do this depends on how her play is flowing. If it is seeming bored/repetitive, I will put some things away and bring other things out. You can very easily own a nice variety of toys w/ out having to keep them all available at all times. This lets the child focus more on what they have, developing concentration and imagination, but you still have "new" things available w/ out having to run out and actually buy something new!


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#23 of 45 Old 12-08-2009, 04:31 PM
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Luckily, my mom is really respectful of not getting us too much garbage. I'm the one who didn't do so well this year. I cut back on the amount BIG TIME though.

PT dentist, FT mom to DS 5.5, DD 2.5 and DS 1/29/10
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#24 of 45 Old 12-09-2009, 10:20 PM
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Ooh toys, my favorite subject. My girls are 3, 5, and 18. I'm a toy reviewer, so we see lots of toys come through here. I keep what the girls love and donate the rest to a local low-income preschool.

I've found that the simpler a toy is, the more play it gets. For Christmas, we are getting new playsilks because the old handmade ones ones got worn through by daily play. Blocks get played with every day. And wooden animals. And dolls. And cardboard boxes - my girls have a packed play room and they squeal over empty cardboard boxes So, when I look for gifts, I either add to the toys they love with more blocks or more accessories, or I look for something that complements what we are learning about or their interests. My 5yo is a future ornithologist who loves to read about foreign countries, so she's received maps, birding guides, bird song identification CD's, bird feeders etc.
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#25 of 45 Old 12-10-2009, 02:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Carhootel View Post
do you have a system for rotating toys or storing ones away for future children as your child outgrows them?
I bought a whole stack of small plastic crates with lids, and keeps types of toys in each:
- playdough toys
- musical instruments
- planes, trains and automobiles
- nature box (things we've collected, such as pinecones, sticks, rocks, shells etc)
- tea party
- art supplies
- wooden blocks
- duplos
- nuts and bolts set
- dolls and doll clothing
- cash register with pretend shopping things (usually miniature grocery items I've collected)
Then, I just rotate the crates every month or so. Easy peesy

I've also got an art supplies crate that stays permanently out - I just change the contents whenever I come across new supplies like feathers or stickers or glue.

I've planned a few future crates in my mind too ... a 'science' crate (with magnifying glass, cotton buds, tweezers, straws, paperclips, measuring cups, beakers etc ..... a cooking crate with bowls, spoons, apron, cooking implements etc, and ready to add lentils/pasta/rice to play with ... and an animals crate.

If I sound slightly OCD, it's because I live in a tiny apartment, and toys needs to be somewhat organised or it would be total and utter CHAOS!! My crate system, while unfortunately plastic, means that my kids get a range of open ended toys to play with, and a variety through rotation.

Mothering my 4yo DS and 1yo DD
I knit : I sew : I read : I craft : and I very occasionally and irregularly blog
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#26 of 45 Old 12-15-2009, 01:56 AM
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So I have 4 ages 9 down to 1. My kiddos love to create so crafting supplies is a much more staple toy for us, the dress up bin gets lot's of action we get these things from left over halloween costumes and then thrift store finds. Legos are a big hit for my kids, and outside "my size" equipment as in little brooms, house stuff, just my kiddos size.
Now we are currently a family of 6 living in a very small 2 bed home and I do not have a lot of clutter, my problem is sometimes wondering why we have any toys as what they do have (which again is not a lot) does not seem to keep interest very long. I guess creative people just get board without creating? Not sure, getting some good ideas here.

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#27 of 45 Old 12-21-2009, 12:09 AM
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#28 of 45 Old 12-24-2009, 01:05 AM
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This is my first workshop - I've had the book for a couple of years but because I often browse for what I need at a specific moment I had not opened it up recently. This is such an opportune time for this!!

We have a challenging time because both my husband and I work from home and right now he's away for at least a couple of months. Normally we really bounce off of each other to keep dd away from the TV for any length of time. However, I must confess, as embarrassing as it is, she has watched far more TV than I would care for but sometimes it's really hard to get her to sit down and play and allow me to work. We have a pretty good selection of toys since I tend to frequent the consignment stores for quality European and American toys. We have some pretty good things that she's been growing into bit by bit.

I find my confidence with being crafty and creative with art is often a downer when it comes to dd doing crafty things. I'm trying to push past my comfort level though because perhaps a lack of that in my own childhood is what holds me back today.

I think my best deal is the Plan dollhouse that I bought on Craigslist with the entire house of furniture plus lots of extra accessories plus the dolls for 40.00!

Anyway I've found many of the previous posts helpful and am glad that I actually found that chapter because of this workshop. the posts and the chapter have given me some great new ideas

Happy Holidays!

Laura mama to Caitlyn 12/26/06 and Frenchie dh non vaccing unschooling multilingual family
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#29 of 45 Old 12-24-2009, 03:47 PM
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Hello everyone! This is a subject near and dear to my heart! And my first workshop, too. I'm looking forward to reading the responses and participating in this workshop.
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#30 of 45 Old 12-30-2009, 07:52 PM
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playdough , crayons and paint!!!!
tops on the list, blocks, not for the girls , i have 2 DD 9 and 4

they like dress up , and have a few "costumes" but honestly do great with just extra clothes and "dress up" clothes we buy at yard sales .
bikes, playset in the yard, and a YARD!

yes Barbie the evil pink hootchie has come to visit , but , since we live in a real world , and such , my girls know she is just a toy .
i watch them play fashion and dress up with her, but honestly , it comes and goes, we havent had the naked barbie living room decorations her in weeks...

my elder DD spent about an hour and a half with me today in bed knitting a burp cloth for the twins ( due in january)

they love to color and decorate.
i will admit , since we dont have TV they and they homeschool , they dont get "as " bombarded as some kids with buy buy buy buy messages .

they love playing with the dog ( we have a westie ) and our cats .

now, this is kind of an evolution for me , my oldest son had a lot more toys, but life was different fiancially and other stuff at that time too ..... HOWEVER my oldest is 20 and he and his girlfriend were down for christmas, he bought up the fact that we hadnt done the santa clean out with the girls yet, which is AWESOME because, what we do with that is just what it sounds like, santa knows kids have only so much room in thier toy boxes, and so we have to sort through broken toys, (trash) and toys we just dont really use, (donate)
then go to the local shelter or thrift store to donate,
obviously it works well if you do it and stick to it , we do the same before birthdays too .

and yes
my kids do ask/beg when we shop , luckily however, if you hold firm to the , ask santa , or maybe on your birthday ,save your allowance ... party line, they do learn it has no purpose to beg ,

santa brings two or three toys only , any other presents come from family , and thats fine .
i have been to several homes and watched kids get loads of toys , and not really play with any of them , a simple case of too much , IMHO.

Semi crunchy Married Mom of 3 20 DS 9 DD4DD mom to b/g newborn twins Jan 4 2010 :Ask me about PREECLAMPSIA!
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