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Sherry Jennings

Can you imagine, just for a moment, your child floating to earth holding the string of a red balloon?

Then as parents it is your task to receive your child and help the balloon gradually deflate until they can live on the earth as independent adults. Rather than puncture the balloon to expedite the process and perhaps precipitate a crash landing, it is important to support your child in touching down slowly and carefully.

Newborns sleep many hours and when awake lie in a dreamy state; in the early weeks, eyes do not even focus. After all, they have arrived out of the womb where it was warm and cozy, nourishment was provided, and they floated in a watery sea that protected them from bumps and jostles. As we care for them through the first months and years, the challenge is how to protect and provide for them in ways that support healthy growth without artificially accelerating the incarnation process.

One way to provide this protection and care is to surround the children with objects and materials that are similar to the qualities they experienced in the womb — warm, cozy, life-giving. What a gift to offer the children toys made from substances that mirror the organic, alive qualities of which the toys are made. Toys made of wood and natural fibers feel warm and retain something of the qualities inherent in the original material. Clothing made from natural fibers holds an echo of something once alive, similar to the life that is now burgeoning in the child. Soft colors in clothing let the air out of the balloon in a gentle manner. In wooden toys are hidden the compressed sunlight of years of growth in the light as well as the hidden life forces from the dark earth.

With winter holidays approaching, your thoughts may be turning towards gifts for your infant or young child. In addition, grandparents, aunts and uncles may be asking for suggestions. If you offer ideas, it can steer family members to give the presents you would like for your children — perhaps objects that are natural, beautiful, and stand up to wear and tear and are age appropriate. In addition to toys, in New England warm clothing made of natural fibers is always a bonus!

Toy Suggestions for Each Age

Following is a list of some toy suggestions suitable for the ages and stages of development of your young children.

One to Three

  • Large knotted doll
  • Soft balls for inside, rubber for outside
  • Simple doll carriage
  • Small wooden cart or wagon for inside
  • Outside wagon
  • Basket of blocks of different shapes
  • Rocking horse
  • Wooden scoops
  • Rocking board
  • Pound-a-peg
  • Small broom
  • Sturdy scoop — plastic or metal for sandbox
  • Boxes, baskets that nest like Russian nesting dolls or simple nesting dolls
  • Wooden bowl and small wooden spoons for kitchen play
  • Play silks
  • Sheepskin
  • Books with moveable pictures
  • Rigid wire frame with sliding beads
  • A small scoot ride-on toy for inside
  • An inside swing if that works in the house

Three to Four

  • Large pieces of solid color natural fabric for house
  • building
  • Play stands
  • Large wooden clips
  • Finger knitted cords
  • Doll bed — can be a basket or simple wooden bed
  • Baskets of all sizes
  • China tea set
  • Wooden top
  • Doll-perhaps a heavy, weighted doll
  • Moveable toys — chickens pecking on a board, two
  • Lumberjacks sawing
  • Child sized real tools — broom, mop, shovel, rake
  • Bubble bath

Five to Seven

  • More formed doll
  • Doll clothes
  • Stand up puppets
  • Project basket with “stuff” for making things — paper, paper punch, yarn, lots of masking tape,
  • scotch tape, glue, etc.
  • Sewing basket with pin cushion, needles, needle case, thimble, fabric, thread, yarn, embroidery
  • hoop, scissors
  • Basket of clothes pins or large clips for house building
  • Large wagon
  • Jump rope
  • Beeswax for modeling
  • Stockmar stick crayons or similar kind


The Young Child

As the parent of a young child, you no doubt look for a little inspiration from time to time.

Our experienced Parent & Child teachers offer their insights, reflections, and suggestions in "The Young Child."

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