Tag Archives: toys

Sensory Integration Toys to Make

Roots and Wings Co has some fun, simple toys to make with little ones and all of them are great for Sensory Integration.  SI techniques and tools are often used by Occupational Therapists to help kids with Autism disorders or sensory disorders, but they are helpful for all children.  We’ve made every one of these toys here over the years and they’ve all been big hits from toddlers on up.  Fun stuff!


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Tiny: Worry Dolls!

I have been meaning to get back into doing Unplug Your Kids projects with the kids and this week’s theme could not have been more timely– TINY.

Just today my package came from the Greater Good store, which is tied to sites like The Rainforest Site and The Hunger Site.  Included in the package were four pouches of tiny worry dolls, one for each of the kids.

These teeny tiny little handmade dolls are based on an old Mayan tradition of giving your worries to a doll and tucking it under your pillow at night.  The doll is supposed to take away your worries while you sleep.

I got two sets of regular worry dolls and two sets of cat dolls (which are fully dressed with arms, legs and whiskers!).  They’re made through fair trade labor that helps women support their families in Guatemala, are super affordable ($1.95 per set of 6 in a little drawstring bag) and a small portion of proceeds goes to whichever charity site you enter through (mine was through The Literacy Site that time).  Every one is unique and they’re really sweet.

All four of my kids happily played with their worry dolls tonight.  They had such fun!  The boys lined them up and Jack put on a play with his.  Anna started developing a family story for hers and Victoria thanked me about 6 times and told me how much she loved them.  🙂

Children are so drawn to tiny things and I have to admit that even I really enjoy these itty bitty people (and felines!).  I love the way every one of them is dressed differently and how easy it is to want to start making up stories for them.

The only bad thing is that Victoria likes hers so much that she keeps worrying (ahem) about losing them!  😉


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The Importance of Play (for Parents!)

A Carnival of Play is going on at PhD in Parenting right now and it got me thinking about how important play is — not for children (we already know that!) but for parents.

Parenthood can be hard work.  It can be exhausting, it can be challenging and it can wear us down.  One of the best ways to combat that and really enjoy parenthood is to learn how to be playful again. 

Most parents already play with their children, but it’s often in action only.  I’m not talking about getting down on the floor and playing Candyland for the 85th time or dutifully agreeing to play the part of Sparkle Pony (unless you really love Candyland and My Little Ponies).  Those things are wonderful for children, but they don’t do a whole lot for us.

The sort of playing that we need more of is the sort that makes us happy, too. 

We need to be present when we’redoing things with our kids, and find a way to do things to make it joyful for us at the same time.

One easy way to do this is to do things with our children that we love to do.  If we love gardening, we can introduce our kids to gardening.  If we love doing crafts, we can do them side by side.  If we love baseball, we can take our kids to games and volunteer as coaches for Little League.

We need to take it farther than that, though.  Those are hobbies and they’re enjoyable, but they are different from the world of play that children naturally gravitate towards.  If we join them in the truly magical play of childhood, it can do something magical for us as well.

When’s the last time you ran barefoot in the grass with your child?  When’s the last time you jumped in a puddle?  When’s the last time you squished your toes in the mud or built a sand castle?  Hopefully just this week!  If not, why not?  These things are fun!

There’s even a bit of science behind the importance of play for all of us.  Playing outside gets us more sun exposure, which gives us more Vitamin D (deficiencies are linked to everything from lowered immune function to depression) and sunlight is also a natural mood lifter.  Physical exercise releases endorphins, which boost feelings of happiness and fight pain.  Sensory activities help ground us and redirect our attention from stressors.  Some movements that kids typically use in play (such as spinning, jumping and swinging) are even helpful for stabilizing our emotions and helping us focus later.  And laughing… well, that helps us in an infinite number of ways.
Here’s some more ways to play today….

  • Go to the park and swing on the swings and use the equipment with your kids.  Put a child on your lap or playfully chase her around if you need a good excuse for using the stuff.
  • Fly kites.
  • Blow bubbles.
  • Get Hyper Dash and play it with the kids.  You’ll all get exercise and I’ve never met a person (of 4 or 40) who didn’t have a blast playing it.  (No kickbacks, incentives or even lovely thank you notes were offered for this recommendation)
  • If it’s warm enough, go run in the sprinkler together.
  • Get down on the floor with your baby or toddler and try to laugh together.  Try to make him laugh and then see how contagious it is.  Laugh together, as much as you can.
  • Be randomly silly.
  • Do puzzles, paper dolls or something else that you miss from your childhood.
  • Go rollerskating or rollerblading.
  • Get a big group game of frisbee or volleyball going.
  • Invest in some family games that really are fun for the whole family.  One that we like is the Scrambled States of America card game.  It happens to be educational but I have as much fun as the kids when we play it.  Twister is a classic, too, and we love to play Hyper Slide.  (Again, no kickbacks, just honest recommendations!)
  • Climb trees together.
  • Jump on the trampoline (or bed!).
  • Play tug of war.  To make it even, put all the kids against you or play one-handed.
  • Take your dog (or borrow a friend’s) to the park with the kids and wear everybody out playing fetch or something similar.
  • Buy a pack of rocket balloons and find a wide open space to shoot them off.  Try to catch them before they hit the ground on the way back down.  (Note: we get ours for $1 or $2 without pumps at discount stores.  We’re always sure to retrieve all the balloons and any scraps of popped ones afterwards so wildlife isn’t harmed, too.)
  • Have a water balloon fight.  Aim for legs unless people ask to be hit higher so the little ones aren’t terrorized.  🙂
  • Play the alphabet balloon game inside.  Blow up a balloon and take turns bopping it with the kids.  The catch?  You have to say a word that starts with whatever letter you’ve chosen before you can hit it.  Older kids need to say 2 syllable words and grown ups need to say 3 (or even 4) syllable words. 
  • Play a video game together.
  • Shoot hoops in the driveway or park.
  • Play a nighttime game of hide-and-seek or flashlight tag in the back yard.
  • Find a big mountain of dirt and climb it together.
  • Play Marco Polo and other water games in the pool.
  • Play marbles.
  • Hula hoop.  I bet it’ll be harder than you remember!  🙂

Whatever it is, just try to get messy, get active, get goofy and have fun!

Parenthood can be hard work, but it can also be a lot of fun if we let it.  It is also so much more fun for kids when we are truly having a blast along with them. 

We parents need magical moments, too.

Have you had your fun today? 

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Make a Fun and Easy Play Stove!

I love this simple project from Dollar Store Crafts!  Use a little bit of tape and construction paper to turn a plastic storage bin into a stove top for play cooking.  The best part?  When you’re done playing, you flip it over and use it to store the cooking utensils!  Oh yeah, and the second best part is that it costs about a dollar to make.  🙂  Head on over for all the details.

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