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Instructions Not Included

Natural Kids: Instructions Not Included

Friday, July 18, 2008

Instructions Not Included

I'll never forget one day at a neighborhood playground about two years ago, when I was sitting on the sidelines watching Eva, now four, play in the sand. Next to me was a woman who was on her hands and knees in the sand telling her two-year-old how to play with his toy. It was a complicated sort of gizmo the use for which, only the mother, evidently could decipher. It begged several questions in my mind; Who's toy was it, really? How necessary was it to get using it correctly right? Was there really only one way to play with this toy.

I've said it before in my blogs, but every time I look around, I see how deep the truth of this idea of Rudolph Steiner's is...that the child should be able in some way to complete the toy; it needs to be open ended. (Eva, pictured here, dresses herself and two of the needle felted dolls I made for her in silk. She has cast herself and the others in a "puppet" show.) Eva wears her play silk, or "Rainbow" as she refers to them, as a "wedding dress." But her silks have become baby slings, rainbows, flags, vaccuums, ropes, etc...

There is no correct way to play with these; no end to what this simple square of color can become, such as with Birchleafedesigns's play silks shown
here. These are not only beautiful but processed with low-impact dye, making them and most of the other items featured environmentally friendly.

I'd like to explore the ways in which toys can be simple and open ended, using images from my Etsy.com Naturalkids Team colleagues for examples. With Winsomehollow's endearing gnome play set, there are no rules. There is no "branded" personality for him...or her. The little island can be anywhere the child chooses. His or her story will be new and original.

Although Woolcomesalive's toy set, pictured here is described on her site as a barn with sheep and bails, all of those pieces can have new identities in the mind of the child. For, they are not so specifically formed and have no back story created by marketing executives.

Oritdotandolls' fairies are light and ethereal. Literally, faceless, the child can project whatever image they like onto it. Though Orit names this one a "blessing," perhaps it is a "gifting" or "singing" fairy to the child...or just "Lucy." Refreshingly, nothing about this fairy disproves any of the child's notions.

We see that Littleelfstoyshop's daffodil girl holds a yellow flower...but what is the rest of her story...and can that daffodil be a flag or a horn? Sure. And her expression, like most Waldorf-inspired dolls is enigmatic, leaving her attitude up to the imagination of the child who plays with her. Here is another example of that open expression from Auntboosbabies. One might think that this lack of expression may feel cold to a child. On the contrary it is inviting. When you combine that with natural materials, like recycled cotton and other natural fibers, as many of our Naturalkids Team team members use, the doll is even softer to the touch...even more loveable.

I would like to continue with these examples and feature additional sellers from our team in my next "Part Two of Instructions Not Included" next time. In the meantime, I invite you to click on their links on the blog site and visit the wonderful and creative worlds these folks inspire through their artistry.

I leave off with the image featured at the top of the page from Dosidough. This team member creates a natural version of playdough - a toy which defies all rules and for which instructions are neither included or requested.

By Rebecca Varon-Remstein
nushkiedesign

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11 Comments:

Blogger germandolls said...

Great looking blog entry! I love all the pictures! The playsilks are so pretty!

July 18, 2008 at 7:53 AM  
Blogger cozycottage said...

Beautiful article, Rebecca! I so agree - and I've seen those same Moms! Childhood is so much more magical with natural toys!

July 18, 2008 at 8:18 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Oh, I just love this article! Thank you!! I want to direct everyone I know to it! :0) You did a great job explaining this and included beautiful pictures.

July 18, 2008 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Rebecca V said...

Thanks for the lovely comments. In two weeks when it's my turn to write again, I'll continue with part two and include even more of our wonderful things!

July 18, 2008 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger TheSingingBird said...

Rebecca you have so captured the sacredness of child's play, thank you.

July 18, 2008 at 11:31 AM  
Anonymous RebeccaC said...

Wonderful article:)

July 18, 2008 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger oritdotandolls said...

Thank you so much for this article-intresting to find out that waldorf education is almost the same all over the world

July 18, 2008 at 2:53 PM  
Blogger Cary said...

that is a really lovely entry! my kids amaze me everyday with their ability to take simple playthings an turn them into so many different magical adventures.

July 18, 2008 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger LittleElf said...

What a wonderful article! I love all the examples of the toys made by the wonderful ladies in our group. So well written too, simply wonderful Rebecca. ^_^ *Hugs* Elfie

July 18, 2008 at 9:07 PM  
Blogger about denise said...

Ladies, those pictures are fantastic. Great article Rebecca. Couldn't agree more.

July 19, 2008 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger WoolComesAlive said...

What a fun and fantastic article! I like the way you play :)

July 20, 2008 at 6:27 AM  

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