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Pretend Play and Beautiful Wooden Toys

From the moment we find out we are expecting, most of us hope that our child grows up surrounded by beautiful things.  Wooden toys and colorful costumes make for adorable play dates.  Some of today's wooden toys are innovative, while others are cheaply crafted and even poisonous.  Recalls are rampant!  With all of the new online websites for toys, the least expensive ones aren't always the best value... but buying the most expensive ones don't necessarily mean they are safer.  Here are some of our favorite toys that are affordable, fun and harmless.

Good Enough to Eat

The Montessori approach to learning gives us great insight into how children digest new concepts.  If you feel like you're talking until you're blue in the face... you might very well be!  Children understand a fraction of what you lecture at them, and they retain even less.  But when children role play with real model toys, they actually learn entire concepts in the deepest parts of their brains.  Haba offers some of the best toys for pretend play.  They truly are the next best thing to cooking real food!  oompa.com  Haba has an entire line of brightly painted wooden foods from every major food group... even junk foods!  

Additionally, Oompa offers Yellow Label Kids soft pretend foods.  These knit "foods" come in a range of options from snacks to sushi!  Each of them looks remarkably like the real thing.  Yellow Label Kids stands head and shoulders above the less expensive plastic versions found at big box stores.  


Paper or Plastic?

The next time inclement weather brings you an unexpected snow day, fear not!  It's time for crafts with a fun kit from Hartia Toys!  hartiatoys.com  Hartia toys are so much fun you might find yourself playing with them even on sunny days, too.  Hartia toys give children an opportunity to cut and paste toys together all by themselves.

And there are no shortage of toys to choose from!  Your children will love learning about life on the farm, animals' habitats, bugs and oceans.  Kids can also learn about the ballet, the theater and martial arts.  Now we understand why Hartia was given the Canadian Toy Council's highest rating for function, design, durability and play value!  And because their kits start at just $11 Canadian ($10.38 US Dollars) you won't think twice about buying multiples.


Reality Check

We hate to be the bearers of bad news... but the odds of your daughter growing up to marry a prince are not good.  Oh sure it is fun to pretend once in a while, but it hardly seems fair to burst her bubble after years of fantasizing about a life filled with luxury, servants and no job.  Balancing a healthy imagination with encouragement in arts and sciences will helps foster an interest in a lifetime of learning and hard work.  It will definitely make shopping for her toys a bit of a challenge (seriously, how many princess toys does a kid need?) but thinking outside of the dress-up chest will pay off in more ways than one.  Encourage your children to dress up as doctors, judges and business people who treat people kindly and fairly.  Play with your children; present them with real life "dilemmas" and let your children learn how to make wise choices.

Our favorite costumes come from Back To Basics.  backtobasicstoys.com  We know kids are rough on toys, and Back to Basics has great outfits that will not easily fall apart.  Your children will love pretending to be space heroes, scientists, farmers and more.  Remember a simpler time, and outside the world of plastic toys that merely entertain.  Pretend play is the best way to learn!