Thursday, August 2, 2012

a space for play

I was having a look through my draft posts and found this. I thought I would share it as it may be of interest. I took some pictures of our playspace as I was rushing out the door today so they are not that great, however I always love seeing inside others homes. You can see some pictures of our playspace in our previous home here.

I wrote this after attending the Vital Years Conference for Steiner Early Childhood Education in Melbourne last year.

A child experiences the world through their body and absorbs all his/her surroundings as sense impressions, unable to judge or filter them. Each and every sense impression shapes the child's physical growth and development as well as how each neural circuits of the brain are wired. 

Why toys from natural materials? 
Wood warms with the heat of the body and
is pleasant to hold for the young child. A doll made made from natural cotton stuffed with wool takes on the smells of the home and of your child.They are also natural gifts from our earth, that once finished may go back to nature. 

Think of the sense impression a child receives when they are only given toys from synthetic materials and plastics? These materials are artificial and fake and

What is an open ended toys? 
Open end toys are ones in which the child can use in many different ways. A bag of differently shaped wooden blocks may be used to create a house, bridge, telephone, magic wand etc. A shell, may be a plate for a fairy or some coins when playing shops.  On the other hand, a plastic beeping toy telephone will most likely only be used as a telephone and as such closed ended. Closed ended toys do not require any use of the child’s imagination. 

In today’s society we are led to believe that children need so much, specifically in terms of toys, however we often find our children playing in a kitchen drawer, or wanting to help sweep while we are tidying up or simply playing with stones in the garden. 
Less is always more. 
The less ‘formed’ an object/ toy, the more the child  is able to use their imagination. The more imaginative play, the more independent and creative your child.  

For some alternatives to shop bought toys - ETSY has some beautiful handcrafted affordable toys, visit a second hand shop or craft a few simple toys yourself. It usually means being a little more organised however definitely worth it.

Ideas for children toys

a dolla doll teaches a child about love and nurturing, about friendship and the emergence of self. Through doll play children can act out the dramas of their own day and sort through their own emotional life and experiences. A doll made with simple features allows children to live in their own world of imagination and fantasy, unlike many of the mass-market dolls that promote adult concepts and expectations about fashion and consumerism.” 

Baskets filled with items such as shells, wooden blocks, bean bags, balls
Wooden animals (maybe a barn or some wooden arches or fences)
A dolls house or tree house and some wooden peg people
Wooden blocks
Coloured cloths or silks - children use these for everything: capes, fairy skirts, the ocean, the grass, the sky....Abbie uses them to wrap her babies 
Felt fruit – a lovely thing to make, some kits in my ETSY store!
Pots and pans – I am always collecting little pots and pans at our local op shops
Baskets/ felt bags

The way toys are cared for is also important for children. Toy boxes do not encourage putting toys away with care nor do they demonstrate to a child that you value the toys you give them to play with. Lead by example – a young child is always watching and imitating you.  

Little baskets and bowls on a simple shelf make sorting and grouping toys aesthetically pleasing, tidy and make it easy for a child to help in tidying up. In Steiner settings it is usual for the adult/ teacher to sing a pack away song and begin to pick up toys and put them away, as children as so imitative they almost always follow. This has always been my experience at our playgroup and in our own home.

We live in a world of excess. I try not to clutter our home with too much stuff and similarly Abbie's world with too many toys. When something new comes in, I put something else away. I honestly find that Abbie spends just as much time playing in the kitchen sink and with items around our home as she does with her 'toys'.


  1. This is so inspiring! Thanks for sharing x

  2. what a cozy and homely play corner, so lovely

  3. the kick in the butt i need. i'm a preschool teacher, i value everything you have talked about here, yet the kid's play space looks like a storage room. we got a bit excited and put everything in there, and now i'm wondering why the floor is a sea of plastic at the end of the day. that's it! time to put some stuff away, choose what is out more mindfully, and set it out so that they can look after it themselves- thank you!! oh! i should take before and after pics- yay, project!

  4. lovely post, this is exactly what i am trying to achieve in our home.
    what a gorgeous little play area. can i ask where you got the little carton of eggs?

    1. Thanks Jo. Of course - these were a Christmas gift they are Early Learning Centre brand (came in set with the milk bottles, cheese and yogurt)

  5. Beautiful room with a lot of space for the fantasy!


Thanks for your sharing your thoughts. I love hearing from you and will respond to any questions in the comments sections. Natalie

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