Free Spring Theme Flash Cards

Finally it seems spring is here! In celebration of spring, we have a free spring theme flash card activity for the kiddos. These cute insect and animal cards can be used in many ways, such as a memory game, ‘snap’, word recognition or even a scavenger hunt.

Click on the image below to download

 

Five Fave Books For Kids

Happy international women’s day!

In celebration of women everywhere here are five favourite motivational books for young children.

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World
by Kate Pankhurst

An enchanting book with beautiful illustrations of strong female role model’s through history.

Ideal for ages 4-10 years.

Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words
by Karen Leggett Abouraya (Author)

The inspiring, story of Malala Yousafzai, a young girl from Pakistan who stands up and speaks out for every child’s right to education. The book is well written l so children can understand the facts, which are dealt with in an age appropriate way. 

Recommended age is 4-7 years.

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky

This book is brimming with the stories of 50 amazing women who made their mark in science, some not so familiar, who have brought important facts and information to our lives.

Recommended age is 8-12 years.

Maya Angelou (Little People, Big Dreams) by Lisbeth Kaiser

From the ‘Little People, Big Dreams’ series, this book follows Maya Angelou, from her early traumatic childhood to her career, civil rights campaigning and eventually, one of America’s most loved writers.

Recommended age is 5-8 years.

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh

A super inspirational book full of interesting stories and fact about women and girls doing great things and invented ingenious innovations that have made our lives simpler and better.

Recommended age is 10-12 years.

Happy World Book Day

Happy world book day from us at Wild Thing Toys!

We don’t sell books here but we know that little readers make great leaders, or at least have an open heart and mind and hopefully a lifelong passion for reading.

 

 

Below  are some of our favourite book quotes:

 

A book is a device to ignite the imagination. – Alan Bennett

A book is a dream that you hold in your hand. – Neil Gaiman

A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul. – Franz Kafka

A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking. – Jerry Seinfield

A first book has some of the sweetness of a first love. – Robert Aris Willmott

A good book has no ending. – R.D. Cumming

A house without books is like a room without windows. – Heinrich Mann

A room without books is like a body without a soul. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it. – Samuel Johnson

Books are a uniquely portable magic. – Stephen King

Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time. – E.P. Whipple

Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house. – Henry Ward Beecher

Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind. – James Russell Lowell

Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home. – Anna Quindlen

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers. – Charles William Eliot

Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own. – William Hazlitt

Books were my pass to personal freedom. – Oprah Winfrey

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents. – Emilie Buchwald

Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life. – Mark Twain

I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book. – Groucho Marx

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. – Jorge Luis Borges

If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. – Toni Morrison

My best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read. – Abraham Lincoln

My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter. – Thomas Helm

Never judge a book by its movie. – J.W. Eagan

No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance. – Confucius

No matter what his rank or position may be, the lover of books is the richest and the happiest. – J.A. Langford

Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers. – Harry S. Truman

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free. – Frederick Douglass

One of the joys of reading is the ability to plug into the shared wisdom of mankind. – Ishmael Reed

Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape. – Nora Ephron

Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body. – Joseph Addison

Reading takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere. – Hazel Rochman

Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you. – Harold Bloom

So many books, so little time. – Frank Zappa

The books that help you the most are those which make you think the most. – Theodore Parker

The first time I read an excellent book, it is to me just as if I had gained a new friend. – Oliver Goldsmith

The greatest gift is a passion for reading. – Elizabeth Hardwick

The love of books is a love which requires neither justification, apology, nor defense. – J.A. Langford

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. – Dr. Seuss

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. – Jane Austen

The wise man reads both books and life itself. – Lin Yutang

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. – Saint Augustine

The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. – Clarence Shepard Day

There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all. – Jacqueline Kennedy

There is no friend as loyal as a book. – Ernest Hemingway

There’s so much more to a book than just the reading. – Maurice Sendak

To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark. – Victor Hugo

Today a reader, tomorrow a leader. – Margaret Fuller

What is reading but silent conversation? – Walter Savage Landor

When you sell a man a book you don’t sell him just 12 ounces of paper and ink and glue – you sell him a whole new life. – Christopher Morley

Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. –Vera Nazarian

You cannot open a book without learning something. – Confucius

You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend. – Paul Sweeney

 

Benefit Of Dolls For Girls And Boys

Little girls have always played with dolls, however all children should have the opportunity to own and play with dolls regardless of gender. Toys that are aimed at boys are usually based on aggression or competitiveness, whereas dolls are generally aimed at promoting nurturing and social skills. A healthy balance would be for both girls and boys to have a chance to play with toys that promote all these skills. It is widely accepted these days that girls should be encouraged to play with toys that are traditionally ‘boy’s toys’ such as cars and Lego, however sadly it is not the same for toys that are traditionally aimed at girls.
Playing with dolls can be hugely beneficial for boys (and girls) in their developmental skills.

Language Skills
A doll is a toy that can really assist in expanding a child’s interactive play. They learn a lot of language through playing with dolls giving them the opportunity to use and practice their speech and linguistic skills. As they progress into greater imaginative play, they will further extend their vocabulary.

Cognitive & Motor Skills
Children use dolls to practice skills before they are able to apply it themselves, such bathing, getting dressed and brushing their teeth. Boys tend to develop their fine-motor and self-help skills a little later than girls, therefore have an even greater need of a doll. At the age of two or three a doll can become a friend and confidante that can help overcome fears or emotional issues. Dolls can be a source of comfort and assist in make believe scenarios similar to the child’s own, helping them face challenges and find solutions.

Nurturing skills
Caring for a doll increases caring and nurturing skills. Children learn to be responsible for the doll as they care for it and pretend play imaginary scenarios. This gives them the opportunity to see beyond just themselves and develop vital strengths such as empathy and selflessness, which will hopefully lay down the foundation for empathetic parenting when they are older.

New Doll And Soft Toy Sewing Kits

We are very excited about our new creative play sewing kits! Learn to sew and make your very own beautiful soft toy or doll. This sewing kit includes everything you need to make a cute toy. Can be hand or machine sewn. A perfect project for learning how to sew by hand or the first steps in to using a sewing machine. The fabric panel also contains a mini toy. Designs include some lovely international dolls and some woodland animals.

Buy kits here

 

The Need for Pretend Play in Child Development

Article from Psychology Today

[This post was co-authored with Jerome L. Singer and Dorothy G. Singer]

Many people often think of play in the form of images of young children at recess engaging in games of tag, ball, using slides, swings, and physically exploring their environments. But physical play is not the only kind of play. We often use the terms pretend play or make-believe play (the acting out of stories which involve multiple perspectives and the playful manipulation of ideas and emotions), that reflect a critical feature of the child’s cognitive and social development. Over the last seventy-five years a number of theorists and researchers have identified the values of such imaginative play as a vital component to the normal development of a child.

Systematic research has increasingly demonstrated a series of clear benefits of children’s engagement in pretend games from the ages of about two and one half through ages six or seven. Actual studies have demonstrated cognitive benefits such as increases in language usage including subjunctives, future tenses, and  adjectives. The important concept of “theory of mind,” an awareness that one’s thoughts may differ from those of other persons  and that there are a variety of perspectives of which each of us is capable, is closely related to  imaginative play (Jenkins & Astington, 2000; Leslie, 1987; Singer & Singer, 1990; Singer & Singer, 2005).

Psychologist Sandra Russ (2004) identified a number of different cognitive and affective processes that are associated with pretend play. Her research dealing with play involves  fantasy, make-believe, symbolism, organization, cognitive integration of seemingly separate content, and divergent thinking (the ability to come up with many  different ideas, story themes, and symbols). Pretend play allows the expression of both positive and negative feelings, and the modulation of affect, the ability to integrate emotion with cognition (Jent, Niec, & Baker, 2011; Seja, & Russ, 1999; Slade and Wolf, 1999).

The research reviewed by Berk, Mann & Ogan, (2006) and Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, Berk, & Singer (2009) suggest that make-believe games are forerunners of the important capacity for forms of self-regulation including reduced aggression, delay of gratification, civility, and empathy. When children use toys to  introduce possible scenarios or friends, the representation of multiple perspectives occurs naturally. Taking on different roles allows children the unique opportunity to learn social skills such as communication, problem solving, and empathy (Hughes, 1999).

An important  benefit of early pretend play may be its enhancement of the child’s capacity for cognitive flexibility and, ultimately, creativity (Russ, 2004; Singer & Singer, 2005). Russ, for example, in longitudinal  studies, found that early imaginative play was associated with increased creative performance years later (Russ, 2004; Russ, & Fiorelli,  2010). Root-Bernstein’s research with clearly creative individuals such as Nobel Prize winners and MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant  awardees, indicated  that early childhood  games about make-believe worlds were more frequent in such individuals than in control participants in their fields (Root-Bernstein, 2012).

What are the sources in children’s environments that promote early and frequent imaginative play? Research has demonstrated that parents who talk to their children regularly explaining features about nature and social issues, or who read or tell stories at bedtime seem to be most likely to foster pretend play (Shmukler  1981; Singer & Singer  2005). A school atmosphere in which pretend games are encouraged, or even just tolerated in the curriculum or recess play of children has also been shown to  lead  to  even greater amounts of imaginativeness and enhanced curiosity, and  to learning skills in preschoolers or early school-agers (Ashiabi , 2007; Singer and Lythcott 2004) . Indeed, educators are using pretend games to teach math and reading (Clements, & Sarama, 2009; Ginsburg, 2006).

A key question that arises from the literature is how parent and teacher training in “guided play” may influence literacy. Singer and colleagues conducted a series of studies on the effectiveness of Learning through Play, an intervention program designed to teach parents and educators how to engage in learning-oriented, imaginative play games with children (Singer, Plaskon, & Schweder, 2003). In the initial evaluation of the program kindergarten children of low-SES parents who participated in the intervention showed significant gains on an academic readiness assessment than those whose parents did not participate. Modest improvements were found in subcomponents of the test, including vocabulary, knowledge about nature, general information knowledge, and knowledge about manners. In another curriculum, Tools of the Mind, inspired by Vygotsky’s theory, scaffolding of cognitive control is woven into virtually all classroom activities (Bodrova, 2008).  For example, teachers encourage complex make-believe play, guiding children in jointly planning of play scenarios before enacting them. Teachers also lead rule-switching games in which regular movement patterns shift often, requiring flexibility of attention.

Perhaps the idea of a built-in ‘pretend play recess’  during the regular school day—where children can get together and explore an infinite amount of possible combinations of ideas, emotions, and perspectives—will one day be just as acceptable as traditional, but no less important, forms for recess and play.

This article is from Psychology Today

Why Simple And Natural Dolls?

We believe that dolls with just a hint of facial features, or even no features at all, are more likely to stimulate a child’s imagination and encourage more open ended play. A doll with a minimum of expressions can have various emotions, just as in real life situations. It can be happy or sad, bossy or strong and can imitate the child’s own range of feelings, ultimately giving the child control over the numerous play possibilities.

A plastic/vinyl doll on the other hand has one fixed frozen smile feature. One can argue that some plastic dolls have a positive role to play. Some fashion dolls have themes to them, such as vets, horse trainers or doctors. However, even with these themed dolls, the play is ‘fixed’ to the theme, resulting in limiting the child’s independent thinking. Alternatively a simple natural doll  can help boost creativity as the child has to think and use his or her own imagination to create the play, as opposed to the doll dictating to the child how to play.

Another concern is that many manufactures of plastic dolls are quite happy with promoting early sexualisation with their dolls.
The plastic dolls which are suppose to be ‘positive role models’ have full make up, high heels and highly sexualised unrealistic body forms, which are not an ideal role model for any little girl or boy to look up to. There’s already enough pressure from the media and society to look a certain way without implanting these unnatural standards in to dolls.

Handmade dolls

We are accustomed to living in a throwaway society where toys are thrown out and replaced at an alarming rate. Rarely will you be able to repair a plastic doll with a broken limb. Instead, hordes of these dolls end up in landfill sites. Well-made heirloom quality cotton dolls can be cleaned and repaired and passed down to other children instead of being thrown out. They can be treasured in childhood, and remembered with fondness in adulthood.

Our fair trade dolls are all hand made. The dolls are created from 100% cotton which is hand loomed by age old production methods without any usage of electrical machinery. This produces a heavy high quality cotton that is beautifully tactile to touch. Each doll or soft toy is then lovingly handcrafted by artisans who work under fair trade conditions.

The dolls are beautiful in sight with a range of skin colours to compliment the diversity of people in the world. Without sounding too clichéd, each doll is made with care and love by the doll maker to be treasured by the child.

A wonderful quote that captures the value of a handmade doll is by the doll maker, Maricristin Sealey, “…a handcrafted doll is one of a kind, an individual which carries the spirit of the maker in its stitches and absorbs the spirit of the child who loves it.”

As Seen In Mollie Makes

Look what’s been spotted in this months (issue 76) Mollie Makes magazine – our very own fair trade mushroom rattles.

We love Mollie Makes magazine, its jam packed with oodles of super creative craft ideas and projects within its beautifully styled pages.

 

 

Our fair trade rattles as seen in Mollie Makes magazine. See image 10.

Free Gratitude Jar Label

Free gratitude jar labels and mini notes to download!

A fun activity and thoughtful way to teach children to be thankful and a reminder to be grateful for the little things in life. Try and write down something that you’re grateful for each day on the mini message notes supplied, put it in the jar and read through them at the end of the year.

Click on the image to download jar and mini message notes.