Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fairy Tent

The problem with my house is that there are fairies everywhere... I found this one in my garden.

and later, a slightly bedraggled fairy was in the bedroom.

Fortunately, for moms of fairy-obsessed little girls, Magic Cabin has Everything Fairy. We got to review the Fairy Pop Up Tent ($59.98)

Now, I have to confess, Magic Cabin sent the tent to me way back at the end of May. I had lovely ideas in my head of pictures of fairy tents and girls in frilly dresses against a cascade of colorful tulips... instead we had rain everyday for months. And when it wasn't raining, wind.

So, yesterday I said, forget the weather, we are taking the tent out anyway. The tent comes with corner stakes so it won't blow away, as well as a carrying case. And while the wind blew our hair around and made the tent look a bit lopsided (it isn't), the girls had a wonderful time pretending to be garden fairies and making fairy soup.

I really like the feature of a back that opens up with velcro. This makes for very easy clean-up. Just open it up, and shake out the flower petals.

When the weather is bad, the fairy tent sits in the corner of Arielle's room. It looks perfect amidst all the pink. And the girls enjoy playing dolls or princess castle or fairy hideout or just hanging out reading a book. It is a great starting point for all sorts of imaginative play. I really recommend pop up tents as a way of giving children private spaces - especially if you don't have a lot of room. They are so easy to take down and put up again. And this one is so pretty.

Check out Magic Cabin for all your fairy needs and make sure to sign up for Magic Cabin's email list to be notified of sales and specials.

The girls insisted on wearing their beautiful fairy skirts from Ginger Louise on Etsy. Ari still needs to grow into hers, but they are lovely.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I had to laugh...

because with all the toys in our house, the latest favorite plaything is.... tissue paper!

Arielle loves cutting it up to make bird clothing ("When I grow up, I'm goig to be a bird scientist and a bird doctor and a mommy and a model and a bird fashion designer.") and Linnea likes to make telephones. "Hello!"

Star House on Etsy

Star House Folk are sweet, handmade wooden figures that are perfect to use with blocks, dollhouses, and for all sorts of imaginative play.

The figures are made of local, sustainable poplar wood. They are drawn, cut out with a saw, sanded, the details are burned onto the wood, then they are sanded again, painted with US made non-toxic water colors and finished with bee's wax and jojoba oil. All very safe.

Heather says that her designs are often inspired by her six year old daughter. They often sit and draw together, and that is when she come up with her designs. First, Heather has an idea and gets really about a new design. Then, her daughter starts talking about how she really wants one and about how she is going to play with it. Their collaboration is a fun way to spend time together, drawing and talking.

Heather's designs were originally intended to be a children's book. One day, Heather plans to write and illustrate her own children's stories. She says that her goal is "sending love and light to all the littles and bigs and biggers of the world through positive fun stories!"

When Heather was creating her first folks, some family friends came over. Their nine year old daughter had a lot of input when Heather was developing her initial style. Her father was one of the first people to encourage the Star Folk designs as a business by lending Heather his uncle's scroll saw. And, so a toy business was born.

Right now, Heather thinks about how children and adults use Star House Toys to create their own stories and finds that exciting and inspiring. Recently, she was asked to create the Bremen Town Musicians for a special order and just loved the way they turned out. Soon, she will do some for her shop, and she plans to add other classic stories as well. So now, inspiration comes from customers too!

Heather has a new baby now, and is looking forward to seeing what future inspiration comes from her new daughter. Congratulations, Heather!

Arielle is playing with a set of little rainbow "tweets" ($28.00) and a set of pink and blue lovebirds ($20.00).

Arielle's Story.

Once upon a time, Mommy Cardinal met Daddy Blue Jay and they fell in love and then they kissed and got married.

They built a nest, and the Mommy Cardinal lay six eggs. They kept the eggs warm until they hatched. Then they had six little chicks named Arielle, Linnea, Merlin, Elfie, Frank and Brett, and Daddy Blue Jay went to get worms and grubs.

Then they stacked the chicks in a pile and took care of them.

Then they fed them all day because the chicks were very hungry.

After they ate, the chicks played.

Mommy Bird and Daddy Bird put the chicks in bed after dinner.

They told them a story and pecked them gently on the head and said "Good night beautiful birdies, sleep tight."

The end.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

And the winner is...

The winner of the free Fabulous Sun Hat from A Toy Garden is Allison Castle of Muscatine, Iowa. Congratulations, Allison! Enjoy your sun hat :0)

Nature Bag

I am so excited to tell you about Nature Bag ($39.95 CAD/ ~$37.00 U.S.), an eco-friendly, treasure trove of outdoor activities designed to help children learn about nature.

Nature Bag is the creation of Silvie and Katharine, two Vancouver moms who between them have 4 children, 10 years of teaching experience, a Masters in Environmental Education and an International Business degree. They suggest you take Nature Bag whenever you venture outdoors. We keep it hanging on the front door knob.

The sturdy organic cotton, fair-trade bag contains a rubberwood magnifying glass (Linnea loved this!), soy-based crayons, a recycled pencil, a recycled notebook, an organic cotton blindfold, two leaf viewers, 8 color cards, hemp twine and a booklet containing activities appropriate for every season. All the paper products are made from 100% post-consumer waste, and the pencil used to be blue jeans!

Why am I so excited? As a scientist, I think that getting kids out in nature, observing and appreciating, is the best way to build an early interest in learning about the world we live in. That is what science is all about -- getting interested, making observations and trying to explain them. I think it is especially important now, because kids that care about nature will grow up to care about protecting it. The Nature Bag is awesome because everything is included - even the ideas. Parents who have no idea where to start can easily lead their kids on these early adventures.

With Nature Bag, kids can learn about nature without causing harm. The activities are appropriate for children between the ages of 3 and 12 and can be used in the city, or in the country, or anywhere in between. They can be used over and over and will change with the seasons and as the child gets older and can understand more.

We've had the summer of bad weather, so on one of our rare sunny days, we took the Nature Bag outside. Nature Bag can be used in many types of weather, but my camera doesn't do as well.

But first, Linnea checked out the magnifying glass.

When we got outside, we used the leaf viewer to look at maple leaves up close. Then we compared them with linden tree leaves and apple leaves. The shapes and sizes and even the greens are different, but so are the patterns of the veins.

Here's Arielle holding her leaf up to the light.

Linnea tries.

Then we blindfolded Arielle and took her to a tree. "Is it fat or thin? Rough or smooth? Are the leaves high or low? Can you find moss? How does it smell? Which tree do you think it is?"

"Hmmm.... maple tree?" Good guess, most of our trees are maple. "Which one?"

Then Linnea tried. We fooled her by visiting a tree that had fallen during a winter storm.

Arielle drew a maple leaf that she found on the ground.

The absolute favorite activity was the color cards. The girls gathered objects that remind them of summer and made a nature collage. This obviously will change with the seasons.

Our beautiful results!

And, there are so many more activities to try. Nature Bag is a nice addition to a family camping trip, a picnic, or to a home school curriculum. While it would also make a great gift for the kid that wants to be a scientist or explorer in the future, it might also be nice for the child that is a little reluctant about the outdoors.