Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Toy Garden

If you haven't read one of my very first posts called "Article on Toys, Lead, and Plastics"; its the reason I started this blog and talks about our family's discovery of the toxins that could be in our home and what practical steps we've taken since then.  We've done some major toy overhauls around here and now focus on buying safe, quality toys for our kids.  Natural toys can be more expensive, but they are often made with wood or natural materials and will last for generations (unlike plastic toys that need batteries and wear out quickly).  One place you can find some of these toys is at A Toy Garden.  They recently sent some toys for my girls to review and tell you about, and have provided a discount code especially for my readers!  

A Toy Garden is a wonderful website that features all kinds of unique wholesome toys and gifts.  Sonya Bingaman is a work at home mom and social worker who attended a Waldorf school for 13 years.  She began sewing and crafting for her own children and then started selling to others.  Her website features handcrafted items along with toys from larger manufacturers who have strong ethical and safety policies.  Many of her toys are purchased directly from the artisan.  I love that her toys are open ended and allow room for a child's imagination.  One could easily spend quite a bit of time browsing her website looking at all of the treasures she has found to offer.  

Sonya sent us a few things to review: silk wings, a small toy boat, and a wonderful little dollhouse stacker.  My girls were thrilled to test these toys out and give them two thumbs up!

This little canoe is four inches long and can actually be taken into the bath tub.  Safe bath toys can be hard to find so I was especially excited about this boat.  We had a mermaid handy who really enjoyed swimming with the boat on a playsilk.  It hasn't been in the water with us yet because I'm going to give it a coat of beeswax first.  You can purchase these oiled or put your own protective coating on it; simply allow it to dry between uses.  

These silk wings are amazing!  They fit my very-small-for-her-age three year old, and I can see them fitting a much bigger child as well.  The silky ribbon crosses around the front and ties around the waist safely and securely.  There are ribbons on the ends for the child to hang on to.  Lucy had fun flapping her arms and running around to make the wings fly out behind her.  These are a must-have for any fairy, butterfly, or princess!  You can choose from the rainbow pattern shown, or a gorgeous blue color.

The natural doll house stacker is another treasure.  This unique toy provides countless ways to set up house and play.  Some of the pieces are obvious like the chair and table, but it also includes pieces that can be used in many different ways.  I love that this toy allows a child to be creative.  The wood is wonderfully smooth and any sharp points are sanded off.  Our Plan Toys family felt right at home and are a great size for this set.  

There is a curvy piece that makes a great rocking chair, triangular pieces that were used as a slide, and more.  Both of my girls had a lot of fun with this and even though we have a big dollhouse, I love this set because it encourages creative play and is so unique.  I've had it on the coffee table all week and its gotten lots of use, even grown-ups who have visited were impressed and had fun trying to put it together.  It is tricky to get back in place, but I like that it stores so compactly.  (The doll house stacker and silk wings are both currently on sale at A Toy Garden.)

I also recently purchased these, but have them hidden away for birthdays this summer.  

Natural toys like these encourage creative play and are just all around wholesome fun.  I love having toys that I can feel good about and that I don't have to wonder chemicals or toxins could be in them.  Thanks, Sonya, for sharing your great website with us!  Use the code littleword5off for $5 off a first time order over $20, good through 7/31/2009.   

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