Toys Your Children Will Play With

I’ve never been a great housekeeper – I keep my home clean (i.e. I try to keep up with the dirt, spills and crumbs), but I don’t do so well when it comes to clutter. And clutter is what seems to happen once you have children.

It starts slowly – family will buy your child gifts, because hey, it’s fun to buy for children. Before you know it your child is being invited to birthday parties and handed bags full of small plastic things that you step on when it’s 11 p.m. at night and you’re trying to find your way to the bedroom. The mountain of toys begins to pile up and soon you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Chances are, your child is feeling overwhelmed too. Kids enjoy structure and order as any adult would, and they’ll often play with toys that are in view, as opposed to the ones in the overflowing bins (the bins that were actually meant to organize your stuff in the first place).

Recently I’d had enough, and filled several big boxes full of toys that I knew my girls didn’t play with. I took time to observe them in their play, and noted what they actually used.  The rest were donated to Value Village. The lists below are obviously individual and will depend on your child, so leave a comment and tell me what your family can’t do without!

TOYS THAT WILL BE USED EVERY DAY

  • Books: I realize these aren’t exactly “toys” but they do take up a lot of space in playrooms and bedrooms. Choose books for the quality of their writing and graphics, and regularly purge the ones your child doesn’t read.
  • Crafts: playdough, markers, paper etc. We’ve got several craft drawers full of stuff my girls can access whenever they want. Paints are kept up higher so that I have control over when these are brought out

TOYS THAT WILL BE USED REGULARLY

  • Play kitchen with fake food
  • Cash register
  • Child’s camera
  • Dress-up clothes
  • Blocks, Lego, and other stacking toys
  • Vehicles: cars, trucks, trains, tractors etc.
  • Dolls
  • Dollhouse
  • Cards and games (only if parents make a point of playing!)
  • Outdoor or indoor sports/active equipment

TOYS THAT WILL RARELY BE USED

I find these are the toys that come out whenever we have guests over. Other children are good at looking through bins and finding things your child hasn’t played with in a long time. It’s debatable whether you keep these ones around the house!

  • Anything with batteries
  • Anything that makes noise
  • Ride-on toys (bicycles not included)
  • Children’s tents
  • Year’s “hottest” toy that you bought on a whim
  • Plastic crap – this includes all random plastic figurines, jewelry, Barbie accessories

What would you add to these lists?

Charlie Brown’s True Meaning of Christmas Brought to Life in the Living Nativity

Remember when Peanuts’ Linus took the stage in the classic holiday special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and explained “what Christmas is all about” to Charlie Brown? His monologue described the Nativity; the very first Christmas according to Christian tradition.

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On December 12 and 13, you’re invited to “Step Into Christmas” to experience the Nativity with a tour of “Bethlehem” as Linus described in the words of Luke 2 of the Christian holy book, The Bible. Here’s a sample of what you’ll experience on the tour:

• See haggling merchants and their wares in the market place
• Chat with the Innkeeper, but don’t expect to get a room – it’s super busy in Bethlehem tonight!
• Meet the shepherds, pet their woolly sheep and donkeys, and hear about their amazing encounter with angels.
• Experience the wonder and simplicity of the stable – first-hand!

Volunteers have been working since August to bring the Nativity to life: hand-sewing costumes for the 41 actors; gathering props; and constructing the town site. This has all been accomplished through donations and the personal investment of members of Redeemer Alliance Church, who will also be performing as part of “Step Into Christmas”.

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Why this labour of love?

Says Coordinator Heather Lamarre, “We want the community to not just have a concept of the first Christmas, but to truly experience the gift that it was to us all”.

And “Step Into Christmas” is, indeed, a gift: the 30-minute open air tours are FREE, as are the hot chocolate and sweet treats that will be offered afterwards inside the cozy warmth of the church building. Pay it forward by bringing a donation for the Ottawa Food Bank.

You’ll find “Bethlehem” at Redeemer Alliance Church at 4825 Innes Road from 6:30-8:30pm on Friday and Saturday, December 12 and 13.  Thirty-minute tours start every 15 minutes.

Celebrating the Nativity is a tradition observed by Christians during the holiday season. What traditions do you celebrate?

Curvy Board: Waldorf-inspired toys

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll know that my dear husband has spent this last year as a stay-at-home dad, taking care of our girls and working towards an electrical apprenticeship. But what I may not have mentioned is that he is also a very talented woodworker. He’s recently had some requests from friends to create several Waldorf-inspired toys – toys that are made from natural materials, aimed to inspire imagination, active play and are aesthetically pleasing (we all know how nice a handmade doll is compared to a hard plastic doll!)

One toy that’s been requested is a curvy board (or Waldorf Rocker Board). This is a piece of wood that’s been bent (actually, it’s many layers of plywood glued together), and can be used for balancing, rocking, sliding, and climbing. We’ve already found another use for it as a puppet theatre:

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But of course, climbing is always fun:

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It’s hard to find toys that children will use again and again, and even harder to find something that’s eco friendly! The curvy board seems to fit these criteria, and I’m really excited hubby has gotten into making toys – it feels like we have Santa in the house! :)

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Tom’s currently taking orders for curvy boards ($120 each), and you can contact him via his Facebook Page.

Tell me, what’s the one toy your kids play with all the time?