Tag Archives: natural learning

Wooden Toys

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sustainability

Since the beginning of October, I have been slowly adding photos to a Wooden Toys album. Yes, it is still a work in progress. Just to be a bit confusing, the point of this album is not to sell these items. It is just a way for you to see some of the wooden toys that we own & ask questions if you are interested in the product. Fortunately most people that know us are aware that we prefer wooden toys, and many of these have been given to Zaedyn as prezzies. If you have them as well, we would love for you to comment and leave any feedback to support other who may be interested. I know that there are plenty more wooden toys available, but I hope that what you see will be of interest or provide you with links where you can find other sustainable toys.

We believe that nature is the best playground and that there are lots of natural resources and environments that can provide open ended play experiences. However, wooden toys can also provide learning and interactive play experiences. Although I have provided some information and ways that each can promote learning, they are not limited to this. Each child is unique, and many dispositions can be learned depending on each child. The way they use them to learn will also vary through time depending on their current interests and development. Click on the photos below to find more details about each toy.

Why do we love wooden toys vs. plastic?

Most companies that sell wooden toys are green companies that play a part in environmental impact and awareness. If you are looking for toys that are more natural and sustainable, look for wooden toys. Yes, they can be expensive, but they are worth it. Wooden toys are also very durable making them last and not ending up quickly broken in landfill. We also do not have to worry as much about safety from broken parts or toxicity. We are not against all plastic toys, but with the huge rise of cheap, plastic toys, we like to make a conscious effort to support eco-friendly companies. There are some companies using recyclable materials/packaging, one of which we think is pretty awesome. Make sure you follow us to hear about it in a future post.

So, how many toys do you need? I do not believe in buying all of the newest toys that come out, and I can definitely say that we still have more than our fair share of toys. We have some amazing toys that simply do not get used because we are always outside, or there are just too many to choose from. This can seem a bit overwhelming for you and your child as all of the toys are pulled out and not used for any purpose. Recently we have moved some toys and books into Zaedyn’s room as everything was out in the lounge. We have a pretty big lounge so I made a few areas in the room where there were certain types of toys. He is now aware of what is in his room and will walk down the hall and bring out toys or books that he wants to read. This has made it a bit easier for him to find toys and spend time playing, but this will always be a work in progress as we shift toys around to create an exciting environment.

Some people might think that wooden toys are too plain and simple, though I would argue the opposite. Yes, plastic toys can be very colourful and there is a huge variety, but this does not make them more interactive. Zaedyn is always far more interested in the packaging and boxes anyways! Wooden toys provide open ended experiences. Some might think they are boring, but I think that they allow for more creativity. There is also a growing number of companies providing wooden toys, and there is a range of different types and availability.

Natural Learning

The other option is to make your own. We found this awesome abacus idea from Natural Learning. Zaedyn even helped us look for the resources to use. Check out their site for some amazing creative and natural resources you can purchase. These educational resources will definitely support your children to learn about nature and Papatuanuku.

If you are a company that stocks these products, please leave a link to your website or details on how to order.

Many people debate this topic, but in our opinion we prefer wooden toys in our home. What do you want your baby chewing/playing with?

ClatterWork Bench 'N' BoxShape SorterPlaying MantisWollemi Wilderness Cash RegisterTea Set
tree toys

Regrowing Mint: Water or Soil?

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Ever wonder if this actually works? I have never tried to regrow mint as it does seem to grow in abundance on its own, but I wanted to regrow some cuttings for the tamariki at the centre. With summer coming, the teachers are sorting out the garden with intentions of building a sensory area including herbs.

Mint is a hardy plant that can be easily grown by children. It makes a great addition and aromatic aspect to playdough or clay by adding hot water to fresh mint leaves and using as an essence. Add mint to water in ice cube trays and freeze. This adds a twist of a natural sensory aspect to the understanding of the physical properties of water leading to curiosity, contribution, and exploration. I am sure that the tamariki will love picking mint from their garden and knowing that they helped it to grow. This also adds to their sense of responsibility and sustainability as they develop an appreciation for the environment. There are even more learning opportunities through science concepts, collaboration, patience, and observation. The list goes on.

Gardening provides children with a real sense of purpose and a meaningful way to explore nature.

I may have cut the mint a bit longer than I should have, but I was very surprised and excited as I walked past and saw the roots. I did not know if the cuttings would regrow and was uncertain as to whether or not they should be in water or soil, but it looks like this was a success. We will continue to watch the roots grow before planting them.

Anyone else need mint? Would love to hear if anyone else has tried this, or can share successful or unsuccessful experiences regrowing plants from cuttings.

***tamariki means children

Watching the Waves

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Zaedyn loves to show off his puku

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Thailand Post

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     Zaedyn and I have been waiting patiently for our parcel to arrive. Different postal services are always bringing packages to work. Knowing that we had a special parcel coming for us, I have been very curious and excited; however, none have been for us. Then when I went into the staff room for morning tea, I saw a slip in my locker telling me that I needed to pick up my package. I get them sent purposely to work so that I do not have to go downtown to get them, but of course they decided to deliver my package out of hours. Oh well. Still excited knowing what had arrived, Zaedyn and I went downtown at lunch to collect our special delivery from Thailand: Rattan Balls.

     Zaedyn was watching intently as I opened the box. He began talking as he does and making lots of funny noises to show that he was curious and excited as well. If only you could hear him. He would pull one out, examine it closely, show me, and throw it off to the side as he had a look at the next one he pulled out. He explored the rattan balls and was very playful as he made his own fun. They are also great for developing gross motor skills as he has already been practicing throwing and kicking them around. I can see the fun we are going to have in our exploration with these.

     So how and where did I find these? I had been searching online to find my Mum a birthday present and somehow ended up seeing these rattan balls on Etsy. I seem to get sidetracked when it comes to Pinterest and Etsy. Anyways, listed for indoor and outdoor decoration as many people would use them for, I instantly thought how cool these would be as a natural resource for Zaedyn to explore and even learn his colours. I have been interested in buying him some rattan balls, but I had never seen bright ones like these before. My one concern was what was used to make them these colours. Although I am not sure exactly, I was assured that they were safe. The products are hand made when ordered, good customer service, and they even made us 25 instead of 20 for only $10.78 NZD. Even with an extra $13.95 for shipping, these are well worth it. I am always looking for natural learning resources that are appealing and provide tamariki with opportunities to learn through nature as they develop an understanding about their world. We even found a special basket to put them in with a koru on the front. To me, this represents the growth that will come with new ideas and opportunities in Zaedyn’s ongoing learning through nature.

     Not sure how we always look for presents with no luck, but Zaedyn almost always seems to end up with something new. Anyways, It was time to go back to work, and Zaedyn decided to bring his sunnies along. What a beautiful sunny day it was again until the few thunderstorms passed in the late afternoon. We must be getting closer to summer!