Because of all that we've been learning about toxins in toys, as a family we're very picky about the toys that we choose for our girls. Some of our favorite toys are made of natural materials such as unfinished wood or stuffed with wool. One of the blogs I read, Z Recommends, just posted today about a Canadian recall of several Melissa and Doug toys for paint containing toxins (barium). These items are not recalled in the US, and may not ever be, but they do contain barium. You can read the whole story here. In looking at paint on a toy, I tend to choose water based stains (you can see the wood grain through the paint) or completely unpainted toys. If wood is unfinished, it is simple enough to rub a coat of beeswax on for a bit of protection. These wooden animals that we made for the girls have beeswax on them and they have held up well. In the photo above, Lucy and Julia are playing with some wonderful natural toys that we received from A Toy Garden for review.
The gnome house is such a neat toy. I like that it can be used in so many different ways: as a cave for animals, a stable, a house for gnomes, and I suppose - a bedroom for tired fairies and gnomes...
The gnome house bends, but doesn't completely fold up. Julia kept trying to bend it too far and it held up to her doing so (of course while I'm telling her not to). It is made of pine, and is 19 inches long. I'm sure this will get lots of use in our house because it is so versatile and can be added to any play scene. This comes unfinished, I am planning to add some beeswax to it, just haven't done that yet.
The girls very quickly decided that the gnomes were a mom and baby pair since one gnome is smaller than the other. The gnomes are often sleepy, but do like to join the dollhouse dolls around the table for food or fly with the fairies. They have the cutest wool felt capes and hats which haven't come off even though they have been played with quite a bit. These gnomes would make great stocking stuffers and come in various fun colors. Of course they are the perfect size for the gnome house.
We also received two beautiful fairy dolls. These are 5 inches tall (about the same size as our Plan Toys dollhouse dolls), have cotton dresses, tulle wings, and are stuffed with wool. These fairies are very well made, soft, and slightly bendable.
The fairies have been flying around our house ever since we received them. Lucy and Julia love to make them "fly" and run around with them. They are a bit big to fit through the holes in the gnome house but are a good size for our dollhouse, and are frequent visitors. Their bodies are well sewn and their wool stuffing makes them nice to hold. Their arms and legs are bendy, so they can sit down. The fairy doll is a bit pricey, but is definitely a quality well made item that will last.
A funny side note: while flying her fairy around the house, Lucy said "Follow me, yelled the fairy!". She's continued with that kind of talk while playing recently: "Lets go, said the gnome.", "I'm tired, cried the baby", etc. I think its rather funny, and must be because we read so many books around here. She doesn't watch much television to see and hear characters speaking in first person, just hears about them in "book language".
If you'd like to go shopping at A Toy Garden for these or other fun things I've reviewed in the past (here and here), Sonya has given us a discount code. Act quickly because this expires on the 10th of December. "littleword5off" will get you $5 off of a purchase of $50 or more. A Toy Garden has a great selection of natural and handmade toys that would be great choice for Christmas gift giving.