We Buy Sea Shells at the Store: Toys from nature

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Looking for some fresh ideas on what to do with my 2 1/2 year old  twins, I was reading some rather "waldorfy" inspired material, and and in it was a suggestion to grab a basket and go gather sea shells with your little one(s), and that when you come home your little one(s) will be intrigued for hours with these magical treasures (sounds great!). Side note: I often read these types of books and have learned to incorporate them into real life. So, having finally learned how to do this and not just think, "Yeah, okay, if you live by the ocean, sheesh." Instead I thought, "Okay, intrigued for hours, I'm game." While we aren't as far as some from the coast line, we can't up and walk to the sea shore to find shells, as suggested. But I could look at the craft store next time I went. Which I did and I got this little bag of shells for $3.99!


And $3.99 is almost as good as finding them for free. I must admit, I was a little saddened by image the fluorescent lights raining down on me instead of the ocean mist. This way of gathering seashells is without the wonderful experience of combing the beach, with the sound of the ocean and seagulls as your backdrop. But then I pictured the other part where I would be slowly running through sand after my suddenly-quick-on-their-feet children as they headed into two different directions into the cold grey winter ocean! So, in the end with a coffee pit-stop, this trip to the craft store, in a blistery March month, sounded pretty good.

While I was there I also picked up some little card board baskets from the dollar section which they could decorate (or desecrate) as their little hearts so desired. In addition, I pulled out some scrap material of a blue satin I had laying around and quickly sewed up the edges, because it frays badly. I say quickly because this wasn't about perfection, my hem looks terrible, it was just about the variety of textures and pretend play. With this we were able to create our own little ocean!

Ultimately, she was right! It did bring a magical couple hours to our house. The assortment of texture was just as fun for me as it was them. The silky smooth satin rippling like an ocean itself; the smooth shells amid the rougher shells gave us something to talk about, and opened up a learning opportunity. We listened to the sound of the ocean in the shells, they gathered them in their baskets, dumped them out, over and over again for most of the morning. I love these opportunities of play and learning. Children are often more interested in the wonders of, say, a sea shell than a cheap toy you tossed in the cart that they just had to have in the store but completely forget about by the time you get home (my house is littered with these items!). I think if you are willing to imagine with them, show them the sound of the ocean inside, the different textures and colors, talk about where it came from, what it looks like, feels like - whether they are initially interested or not, they are interested in you and your time. These types of "toys" remind me of that. Remind me to be present. Remind me to imagine with my children.


    Our Sea Scape

Do you use any "found" items for play for your little ones? What are some of your favorites?

How to: Bean Bag Sachet

Friday, March 18, 2011


My twins at 2 1/2 are in a constant state of development, action and mischief! I am always looking for new ways to keep them busy in ways that focus their attention, create a little calm (for a few moments) and offer some sort of a sensory experience.

I recently came up with these bean bags; (okay, so I thought about making them a long time ago, but I just got around to doing it.) They are a great little addition to our toy basket, they can be used for counting, tossing at a target on the floor, carrying, putting in and out of things like, bags, pots, baskets (which is mostly what they use them for). But the best part is that they are aromatic! So as your children are playing with them a fragrance of chamomile and lavender fill the air. I think it brings a calm to us all and I love that! And if things are getting really crazy at your house you can take a couple, plop them on your eyes and take a few deep breaths : )

They are so wonderfully fragrant that they are nice to stick in a drawer, closet, toy box, diaper bag, or just about anywhere.

What you need:
Canvas material scraps
Rice or corn kernels (I much prefer rice if you have little ones)
Safe and non-poky herbs for fragrance (Lavender, Sage, Chamomile)
Thread and Needle or Sewing machine



First: Cut out your squares to any size. Mine are about 4x4inches. Turn right sides together/Wrong side facing you. Sew up 3 sides of bag. I use a zigzag stitch AND a straight stitch so that it is secure.


Second: Fill your bag with your aromatic mix. I fill about 2/3 full, not too much.




Third: Fold in the edges of your open side. and press together, hold with straight pins. Straight stitch the top, doubling back (stitch forward then backward to secure the opening and closing) at the beginning and end.

That's it! Repeat for the number of bags you want to have. Enjoy.

For some bean bag game ideas click here.
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