I have a couple of preferred websites when it comes to birthdays and present buying occasions for the children. I have found it quite difficult over the years to find quality alternatives that aren’t plastic or centered around popular culture and, after a lot of virtual surfing, I came out with three favourites that we have returned to time and time again.
Woodland Children was perhaps our first choice, followed by Myriad and then several sellers on Etsy. We wanted subtle, natural toys that inspired play rather than dictated it; Art materials which didn’t contain lots of nasty chemicals (as they always seem to end up over faces as much as paper) and toys and games with an ethical background. Each of these sites offers a wide range of Waldorf inspired toys perfects for our little people. Imagine our disappointment however, when Woodland Children closed. I knew it was in the process of changing hands so kept popping back but it seemed to stay closed for a long time. But now its back! Not only do they have the same array of all of our favourite, sorry, the children’s favourite (I don’t play with them, honestly!) toys, they have lots of fresh ideas too.
We recently ordered a new product of theirs, My Little Atelier. It is a monthly kit which arrives bursting with art materials centred around a specific artist.
We awaited our first box with great excitement. For Toby, being home schooled, this seemed like a brilliant idea for his art “lessons”. I am rather biased with my favourite artists and tend to incorporate their work as examples or subjects for study. I hoped this kit would open the doors to the world of other artists for both the children and myself.
I was not disappointed. The parcel arrived a couple of days ago and we raced into the garden to see what was inside. It contained a covering note explaining the Atelier, then a couple of pages about the selected artist of the month, Andy Goldsworthy and nature art. Under the sheets of paper hid the art supplies. I can honestly say that both Toby and Emily gasped when they saw the contents. Nestled inside finely shredded, ocean coloured tissue paper, lay a large array of shells, exotic seed pods, cinnamon sticks, dried fruits and more.
After briefly reading the information about Andy Goldsworthy Toby and Emily were ready to jump right in and get to work creating their own transient nature art.
The kit must have been a success as it held their attention for a solid three hours of play with only one single bickering session as to who got to use the ‘white’ shell. I would say that is about as good as it can get!
It was beautiful to sit back and watch them both work together deciding what could go where, and telling each other what each creation reminded them of.
We had Mandalas, butterflies…
The other thing I found lovely about this kit was that it was very tactile; the textures of each item were all very different, so, while Toby continued to create art I was able to sit with Emily and talk about rough and smooth, which she thought may float or sink, which were plant material etc.
The contents also later served as a feast, with the larger shells becoming plates and cups and the dried plant materials being the food along with a dessert of age old classic, mud pie!
It must have also had a good impact on Toby, as, a couple of days later as we walked through the streets of Chester, he pointed out a street artist making a sculpture out of sand and asked if his work was transient too.
I cannot recommend this kit, or Woodland children highly enough. We have had lots of fun with it, and I’m sure will continue to do so. The service is friendly, reliable and personal too, which is always nice!!!
On a grown-up crafty note, I have almost finished my Medieval costume. A friend very, very kindly gave me a sewing machine which has made life very much easier and quicker.
I also finally finished spinning my rainbow and am now spinning some lovely dyed Wensleydale roving I bought at Wonderwool Wales.
On the knitting front, although time has been somewhat lacking, I am working on some baby items, including a pair of booties – a new pattern from Knitsofacto’s blog.
I must urge you to go and have a look at The Woodland Children’s website before I go. I will be popping over in the next couple of weeks in preparation for Emily’s fourth birthday for some new paints, a wooden animal or two and most importantly a number 4 for her birthday ring! Where on earth does the time go?!?!?