Natural Toy Stores

As a new parent trying to find the most open-ended, eco-friendly toys that foster creativity and imagination for my son, I have come across a fabulous repository of natural toy store sites.  I am listing them here so as not to forget to re-visit them from time to time as Quetzal Sol grows and discovers the world with some of the fun finds from these stores.  It is also important to note that many, if not all, of these store owners are entrepreneurs who are dedicated to sustainable living and ecology matters, healthy childhoods and homemade crafting.

Palumba

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States

We specialize in organic, green-built, handmade children’s items created from ALL-NATURAL materials. Over 80% of our toys are made in the USA, the others are crafted in Fair Trade Cooperatives. ALL of our toys are made without any toxins or unsafe parts. They are all of heirloom quality and crafted with “green” technology, care and integrity. We are PALUMBA: A Magical Children’s World Dedicated to the “WHOLE” child.

Three Sisters Toys

Wooden Toys, Waldorf Toys, Natural Toys, Waldorf Wooden ToysThree Sisters Toys is a work-at-home-mom business owned and operated by me, Dana Johnson. I am a former clinical social worker, now an at home mom of three children. Three Sisters allows me to stay home with my children, provides me the opportunity to continue working with children and families in a positive way, and helps to pay for the twins tuition to our local Waldorf preschool! 🙂

Through my work in play therapy, I became very interested in the types of toys children today are playing with and the impact these toys have on their development. Three Sisters was founded in the spirit of keeping creative play alive in young children. It’s about nurturing creativity, bringing back imagination, and opening us up to the magic of childhood.

Imagine Childhood

Enter storeAt imaginechildhood.com we believe that children should experience the world through their own eyes, ears, fingers, and toes. That direct interaction with nature is the best way to learn about the world, and that open-ended imaginative play is the best way to learn about what it could be.

Part community forum, part storefront, imaginechildhood.com is a place where parents and kids can find their own definition of childhood.

On our blog and in our store we offer stories, activities, and innovative products that encourage exploration, creativity, and open-ended unstructured play.

The Playstore

A small group of moms work to create The Playstore.  In 1994 we opened our store in Palo Alto, California. We were happy to find many parents in our local community who also wanted well-made, open-ended toys for their children.  Our store is still there and we do hope you will stop by when you are in northern California.

At The Playstore, we evaluate a toy based on its play value, quality, integrity, and impact on the environment. The mark of a great toy — one worth owning — is a toy that satisfies all four of these criteria. We have not compromised in any of our choices of toys for this catalog. Nothing is included simply because there is no other option. What is here is truly the best.
playcircles

A Toy Garden

We offer a broad selection of open-ended, natural, creative & fun toys for children & their families. Great selection of Fair Trade & Made in the USAtoys, too. Waldorf & Montessori families and anyone who appreciates quality toys at reasonable prices will enjoy our family run webstore.

Alex Toys

ALEX’s mission is to provide children with quality creative products that foster personal expression and build self-esteem. The best children’s activities provide lots of fun and they open a child’s mind to new skills, new ideas and new worlds.

We started ALEX in 1986 with a line of high quality basic arts and crafts products for children.Over the years, ALEX has grown and today produces over 1,000 items in expanded categories of toys: imaginative and dramatic play, fashion and jewelry, whimsical children’s furniture, Rub A Dub® and Tub Tunes® bath toys, ALEX Little Hands® preschool products and ALEX Jr.®, developmental, plush and bath toys for baby!

Plan Toys

We create toys that inspire children’s imagination as well as promote their physical and intellectual development. We’re also proving that it is possible to maintain superior quality standards while steadfastly following a path of environmental and social responsibility.

The Natural Baby Catalog

Our Promise
To be a safe haven for you and your children, where Everything Natural defines the contents of our store. Because we share your concerns over the increasing proliferation of chemicals, toxins, and pollutants in the kinds of products you need for your children’s security and well-being, we’ve made it our business to present you with only natural alternatives.

Be assured, each fine quality item is made solely from things of this earth. Things that live and grow, that are part of the great cycle of life. For all of our growing children, that just makes sense to us.

Bella Luna Toys

Bella Luna Toys is owned by Sarah Baldwin, a professional Waldorf educator in Maine.  It carries a magical, ever expanding selection of the highest quality wooden toys, natural baby toys, Waldorf dolls, craft kits, non-toxic art supplies, play silks, children’s books, Maine-made toys, and many other playthings designed to nourish a young child’s senses and awaken the imagination.

Tree Hollow Toys

Tree Hollow Toys, Natural, Green Toys, Waldorf, Montessori InspiredWe offer natural, eco-friendly, green toys that are USA made, European made, and fair trade, or sweatshop-free. We seek out toy manufacturers who meet our high standards of quality, safety, and social and environmental responsibility.
Our Waldorf and Montessori inspired wooden toys, natural silks, and handmade dolls, will engage children in creative play, broadening the mind and imagination.

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My journey into Waldorf Education

I was first introduced to Waldorf Education when I went to graduate school at Fordham University from 2003-2005 through the Teach for America program I was a part of at the time.  We did not actually study this philosophy of education nor were there any classes offered on it, but I heard of it for the first time while pursuing a Master’s degree there and it stuck in my mind.

It wasn’t until 2005 when my husband and I moved to Guanajuato, Guanajuato, Mexico that I learned first-hand what Waldorf was all about.  I attended a music workshop at the Colegio Yeccan Waldorf and fell in love with the method and practice of this realm of education.  I also met a parent of a Waldorf student while taking an abstract painting class at the Casa Museo Gene Byron and she was the one who first introduced me to the school in Guanajuato.  My husband and I had the privilege of attending the Colegio’s annual Elves’ Faire and ever since then, I have read about and researched the Waldorf philosophy on my own.

Upon moving to Nashville, TN in August of 2009, I discovered that the only Waldorf school in the state is right here in Nashville so by January of 2010, I had arranged to attend a “Windows on Waldorf” tour whereby I got to see classes in action, the learning community, and had the wonderful opportunity to ask many questions of the Enrollment Coordinator.

Since that tour, I have read many Waldorf resources which I would like to share here.  These are absolute must-reads for anybody interested in Waldorf Education, as well as raising children in a peaceful, nurturing environment that fosters a love for nature, art, and one another.

Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside Out by Jack Petrash, 2002

Waldorf Education: Schools for the Twenty-First Century by Eugene Schwartz, 2000

The Waldorf Kindergarten Snack Book, Lisa Hildreth

Creative Play for Your Infant / Toddler by Christopher Clouder and Janni Nicol

The Waldorf Cookbook by Kelly Sundstrom

You Are Your Child’s First Teacher: What Parents Can Do With and For Their Children from Birth to Age Six by Rahima Baldwin Dancy, 2000

“The Wisdom of Waldorf” article reprinted from Mothering, Issue #123 March/April 2004

“Waldorf Education…An Introduction” by Henry Barnes

“The Case for Working with Your Hands” by Matthew B. Crawford, The New York Times, May 24, 2009

“Let the Children Play (Some More) by Stuart Brown, The New York Times “Happy Days: The Pursuit of What Matters in Troubled Times,” September 2, 2009

American Academy of Pediatrics Report on Play

“The New Untouchables,” by Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times, October 21, 2009

“Pressure-cooker kindergarten” by Patti Hartigan, boston.com, August 30, 2009

Current reads I am still savoring:

Waldorf Education: A Family Guide by Pamela Johnson Fenner and Karen L. Rivers, 1995

Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children by Sharifa Oppenheimer, 2006

Oak Meadow Waldorf Resources

A book on my “to buy” list:

Seasonal nature tables are an invaluable way of making young children aware of the changing cycle of the year. With simple materials and basic knitting and crocheting skills, a series of colorful and effective tableaux can be made at home or in school for depicting the seasons and major festivals. Illustrated, with many in full color.

The Nature Corner

Hello world!

I have finally begun my blog journey today after a long time contemplating the possibilities with my expert blogger hubby.  I would like to begin this adventure with a “wish list”of books that are must-reads for us at some point in the near future:

“Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul,” Stuart Brown

“Nurture Shock,” Po Bronson

“Pink Brain, Blue Brain,” Lise Eliot

“Raising a Son: Parents and the Making of a Healthy Man,” Don and Jeanne Elium

“Why Don’t Students Like School,” Daniel T. Willingham

“How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk,” Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

“You’re a Good Mom,” Jen Singer