I Want to be a Toy Maker When I Grow Up…

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Or, do I really want to grow up?

When I became a mother and as our oldest grew more interactive and playful, I felt so fortunate to find an excusable outlet for my inner child. I love to be silly and horse around. Being a parent gives you an avenue to do that without looking to weird.

I am also learning, that with three boys, I really enjoy creating and making toys for them to play with and use their imaginations. The mass toy market is saturated with plastic, battery-operated, light-up, noisy toys. Everything is also so brightly colored and “attractive”…or perhaps over-stimulating. Even I began to feel overwhelmed by all the brightly colored plastic toys.

Like many other homes, our living room began to look like a toy store instead of a family room. So, I began thinking of alternatives. I didn’t want to just pack everything away. I want our family room to appeal to all of us, including our children.

The product of my imagination became Adventures on the Wall ™ , my original vertical playscape.

14570276_551550921717132_8713510960624530311_nI wanted to design a visually appealing and engaging toy that didn’t have a large footprint. What better way to have a small footprint than a toy that can hang on the wall?!

My first three playscapes included a farm/barnyard, an outdoor camping/mountain landscape and a fairy village. The soft colors on the blonde wood background are pretty for us grownups to enjoy and appealing to our boys.

My next addition to Adventures on the Wall ™ series is one with a chalkboard background so that the boys may draw their own playscape to suit their mood.

Originally, we used our Little People collection to pretend and play with these fun, vertical adventures but I knew I would be making some peg dolls to accompany them. I finally did this weekend! And let me tell you, it was so much fun!

Using watercolor paint, felt and embroidery thread, I made two boy/girl sets of fairies/gnomes as well as a king/queen set. I also found the adorable toadstools and watercolor painted the tops red and added some white spots. They turned out so cute!

The birdhouses are the $1.50 ones you can find at the craft store and I just added a soft toned watercolor wash to the roof and kept the rest raw.

I also painted some rainbow peg dolls to be used in any manner needed for the creative moment.

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Again, using watercolor paint, I “washed” the bodies with the rainbow colors and the result was fantastic!

Watercolor + wood = beauty.

The soft colors that resulted are so pretty and inviting. And by leaving the faces plain, the possibilities are endless!

(Can you see some Waldorf inspiration here?)

 

I also cut a wood block set from pine boards. We have a set of wood blocks that are the really chunky kind, which I adore, but I wanted to add a set of thinner blocks that included some bigger triangles for mountains and volcanoes as well as some house/building shapes. You can also see I ended up with some considerably smaller triangles that make wonderful chimneys or small shrubs. I just love how they turned out!

I considered adding some watercolor to a few of these but abstained for now. I can always do it later if I want to but my goal is to have open-ended toys that can be anything their imaginations desire!

I also witnessed our older son (1st grader) using the shapes to make tangrams. He was piecing them together to make different bigger objects such as a windmill!

My last addition to the handmade pieces in our new Waldorf-Reggio-Montessori play was some simple dolls that we refer to as pillow people.

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My husband was a little skeptical of me making dolls for our boys but I assured him that they would be simple and perfect for playing house or school or doctor or whatever they wanted. Are they the beautiful Waldorf dolls like the ones I covet but cost $100+? No. But are the simple, sweet and snuggly? Yes!

They also make really good “throw pillows”…not the kind you decorate a sofa with. I can see these being used to create some kind of indoor {ball}game as well as a tossing game into the box for points. Its fine with me since they are so lightweight.

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With all these new toys I made, I went through the rest of our toys and packed away all the plastic toys. We have other pieces for the boys to play with besides the one I made including a raw wood, handcrafted barn that folds up into a 10″ x 20” footprint but has gates that pull out to make a paddock; a couple of wood puzzles, a treasure bucket filled with sea shells and other natural and fabric treasures.

I will share another post soon about what our play areas look like now with no plastic toys! I can’t wait to show you!

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Do you like to make toys for your children? What are your child’s favorite things in their play area?

Thank you for stopping by!

◊◊◊ For more information on my Adventures on the Wall™ or to order your very own you can email me at caseyreneeblog@gmail.com or visit my Facebook page, Casey Renee Designs

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