Thursday, September 27, 2007

Open Ended Toys

Today, we began the process of dyeing silks. You may be wondering why silks and what are we using them for. I am a big believer in imagination and creativity and using open-ended toys. I have drawn from the Waldorf philosophy of using natural materials that have "life" in them. When I say "life" I am not talking hokey New Agey stuff, but things that were really I notice that when we have taken away a plastic noisy toy and replaced it with a natural toy the kids react to it in a different way. For example, a plastic sword that was bright red, black and white and made horridly obnoxious noises and was shaped rather scary, was always played with in a rather violent way and was always used to hit unsuspecting brothers or a sister. On the other hand a wooden natural colored sword that was pretty plain was more often used to hunt an kill dragons...not siblings! I got rid of the offending sword and now the only option is the wooden sword. The plastic toys seem to be noisy and overstimulating and very closed to open endedness and are only meant for one way of play. Have you ever noticed that more often than not children play with the cardboard boxes the toys come in over the toy? Why is that? Well, the cardboard box happens to be open ended. It can transform into a dollhouse,a spaceship, a car, a doll bed and on and on. The sky is the limit as long as the imagination is there! Plastic toys that are made today seem to fall apart within days of receiving them and often contain toxic ingredients...plastic in various forms can cause cancer and as of late lead paint! Or perhaps, lead paint is a bigger issue than we realize and it has always been put in the toys that our children play with and stick in their mouths. Another issue I am having with plastic toys, is that they are so often made in China. Why are we not supporting toy makers in the USA and their families? The toys that are made here in the USA are a bit more expensive initially, but last generations and your supporting another family "HERE" in OUR country where our standards are higher. Most "homegrown" toys have online "shops" and alot of people would prefer to run to a large department store where commercialization overflows the aisles and pick up a toy for a gift. We could just as easily, if not easier, hop online with a nice cup of tea and "visit" a toyshop run by a small American family and purchase toys that are healthier for our children. Healthier in terms of imagination and no toxic ingredients! I like Three Sisters Toys as she offers $5 flat rate shipping or free with a code at different times. She also offers silks in various shades! We chose to order some from Dharma Trading Co. and are dyeing them using a koolaid bath. I wanted to use natural plant dyes, but the thought of using a mordant started to freak me out a little with the whole process! Koolaid has acid in it already and therefore no need to add anything except water and vinegar! The kids enjoyed watching the whole process and we are awaiting the orange silks drying before we play with them! I am curious to see what they will be used for...capes...doll blankets...gates (Alec is currently using the longest undyed one for just that!) and a world of endless possibilities!


Tapsalteerie said...

I got a bunch of end-of-bolt silks sometime back at a local-ish (not chain) fabric store. Our kids have had the best time with them. I'm in the slow and rather difficult task of culling out the plastic toys too. I'm allowing them to keep a few, but they're gravitating more towards the wooden doll house (middle son's favorite) and the more imagination lead toys.

BTW, love your blog... I found the link on Sally's blog.


Aunt Shawna said...

I can't tell you how many times I've told new Moms not to waste money on flashy toys, when thier child will probably just want to play with the box it came in. My kids always want me to get big boxes, when I go to the store, so they can play with them. One of our school projects is to dye yarn to weave through strawberry baskets. We're going to use yellow onions skins, brown tea, and a few other natural dyes. I too think more people should support local stores and farmers.