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12 Best Natural Toys For Children
It’s not until you have your own children that you really take a good hard look at the toys for sale in most department stores. Most children’s toys are made with plastic that comes from China and contain many harmful, toxic chemicals. If you have paid attention, there have been numerous recalls of toys due to health hazards. Children don’t need these kinds of plastic, self-performing toys. Most are happy with toys that spark their imagination. One of the best toys ever is a treehouse and swing, however, for many people, who live in apartments, this isn’t possible. Also, if you live in a place where it snows, the treehouse isn’t useable all year around.
Also, many parents don’t fully understand the importance of play in the development of their children. The development of a child’s imagination is an important step towards thinking skills and gaining knowledge. Yes, learning basic such as reading, spelling, and math are important, but those only teach your child how to memorize, it’s play time that not only exercises the body, but exercises the mind. Having you child tell you a story about their playhouse or costume will do far more for them later in life then memorizing their ABC’s.
So take a look at our list of the best organic, natural, and sustainable alternatives to many of the toys on the market.
1. Basic Natural Wood Toys
These include anything from animals, such as horses, bulls, even dinosaurs, to cars, fire trucks, dump trucks, airplanes, helicopters, to play swords, shields, trains, even noise makers, such as clappers. Almost any plastic toy today can be made from wood. If they are painted, double check that the paint is lead free.
For little ones, blocks can be hours of fun. Some people make an exception to plastic toys by giving Lego’s because they encourage hours of imaginative playtime. That choice is yours, of course, but for very small children, plain old wooden blocks are always entertaining. They love building little towers of blocks then watching them fall to the ground! Again, if these are painted, double check that the paint is lead free. Use caution if these blocks come from China as it appears that they have little or no safety standards when it comes to toys. Generally, toys that come from Europe and Canada are preferable as they have very strict safety standards, even more so than the US.
3. Wood Bow and Arrows or Slingshots
Little boys love these things but they do need to learn how to use them properly. Teach them that these are for shooting targets ( old 2 liter plastic bottles filled with a little sand or water and painted like clowns or bandit faces are great) and never for use against people or animals.
4. Craft Items
Pre-made activity items are always a big hit with slightly older children. Girls can decorate flip flops; make decorated hair bows and necklaces. Boys can make their own targets for their slingshots or bows and arrows. Coloring books are good for kids of almost all ages, and simple drawing paper with water color paints and/or washable markers are always entertaining. Give kids a subject of the day (your favorite animal at the zoo, your house in outer space, the prettiest bird ever, etc.) and they will entertain themselves for hours with their own art.
5. Dress Up
You can buy dress up kits or make your own. Don’t think Halloween mask, think pirate, fireman, policeman, chef, astronaut, Native American, movie star, princess, or ballerina. If your kid is into animals, a simple headband with homemade ears attached, a tail pinned to a pair of pants and a black makeup stick is probably all you need to complete an outfit. If your kid is all about planes, cardboard boxes can be cut into a great pair of “wings” or a jumpsuit with a few emblems and a hat will make him the world’s best pilot. Pom pom’s and a baton make for an instant cheerleader. The only limit is your imagination. You can always ask your kids to make up their own play for entertainment on a Saturday afternoon. Be sure you applaud loudly.
6. Dolls and Dollhouses
Instead of plastic dolls with those fake faces, wooden dolls with beautifully painted faces never get old. Doll houses filled with wood furniture are also endless hours of fun for most small girls. Encourage your girls to create their own things for their “family” such as making small dolls for their dolls, making tiny books out of scrap paper so their dolls can read while they are at school, making pictures for the walls of their dollhouse, etc. Buy old fashioned wood cradles or use a wicker basket, and carriages are always another fun way to take dolly outside.
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7. Play Stages
Kids don’t have to have expensive toys to be entertained. Encourage their imagination by creating their own “stages” for them to play in. Think of a thin blanket or thick material and some small wooden poles, along with some markets and paint, so kids could make their own teepee in the backyard. Or a refrigerator sized box, with a piece cut out and plastic film taped or stapled over the hole, maybe with a wooden stool and a steering wheel inside becomes a great spaceship. Combine these stages with dress up and you might not see your kids all day!
8. Musical Instruments
This is NOT for the faint of heart, friends. Think twice about this one, especially if you have more than one child. The noise level of three kids playing musical instruments rivals any rock concert. For some kids, however, these are great gifts they truly enjoy. Simple wooden instruments such as harmonicas, guitars, tambourines, bells, maracas, and xylophones are hours of fun for most children, especially if you can convince them to make their up their own songs. Tell your little one mommy needs a song to cheer her up and your kid will spend all day singing to you. (Isn’t that sweet?)
9. Kitchen Play
This is one for both girls and boys. Be sure you have plenty of pots and pans, pretend foods, (save old food boxes and small plastic bottles for their pretend food) dishes, small serving table, and either a little wooden stove or make one yourself out of boxes. You can make kitchen cabinets out of boxes and even a refrigerator using an old ice chest.
10. Puzzles and Games
Even little ones can play simple games like chutes and ladders. Older kids enjoy card games, and even preteens enjoy games like Sorry, Life, and Monopoly. Preschoolers love wooden puzzles and many elementary school kids love to do a puzzle about their favorite subject (animals, airplanes, spaceships, ballerinas, etc.) then glue a finished puzzle together and hang it in their room. You might also want to think about some outdoor games such as tetherball, croquet, volleyball, soccer, or badminton.
Continuing with games, kids of all ages love balls. Softballs, footballs, soccer balls, basketballs, even small red rubber balls that are perfect for games of kickball or handball for smaller children. No matter their age, there is bound to be some type of ball that is perfect for your kid.
12. Bicycles, Wagons, and Tricycles
Ok, so these aren’t made of wood, but these are endless hours of fun as well as good exercise. Double check the paint to be certain it isn’t lead based. Again, as an extra measure of safety, you might want to think about buying these items from makers in the USA and/or Canada as opposed to China.
Toddlers enjoy small wagons that they can both push and pull and fill with treasures. Older kids like tricycles or small bicycles with training wheels, and older kids will be happy to have their own bicycle. Do you remember when you got your first bicycle and how thrilled you were? There is nothing quite like a bicycle for Christmas.
TIP: Encourage your child to play with the things they have, instead of tossing away the old and look for something new. Limit screen time and encourage your child to play outside whenever possible. Limit time spent in group activities (such as soccer or dance classes) Children need time for self-initiated play. When their lives are overscheduled, it leaves very little time for imaginative play.