Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thinking Thursdays: Using natural materials for play

One aspect I really love about Waldorf education is the use of natural materials for play.  Kids these days have a tendency to play with quite a lot of artificial materials like plastic (especially since most toys are made from plastic), and I think its nice to provide them with other alternative materials/textures, especially those that come from nature.  

With that in mind, I just started by leaving a basket of pebbles (of an assortment of sizes, textures and colours) in the hall where the boy usually plays:

And the boy really loved them!  He would carry them around (in fact, he named one his "favourite pebble" and would bring it to bed along with him!) and would bring them to the table for meals.  They got incorporated into building projects:

And got carted around on various "shopping trips"...

Thus encouraged, I've been leaving out other natural materials, such as shells (picked during a Pangkor trip), corals and casuarina fruit.  I love how varied the textures, colours and shapes are, and how these are less likely to contain harmful chemicals compared to synthetic materials (of course, do give them a good wash with soap first!).

Do you let your kids play with natural materials?  How do you incorporate them into their playtime?


  1. I think it’s really nice to play with natural materials. At the moment, I have not really intro natural materials to Allysa yet but do allow her to play with real and non-plastic toy stuffs, which I ransack from the house. However, I do let her feel/touch flowers/plants when she is out for walk. =)

  2. Yvonne: Its great that you're letting her touch all those plants and flowers... great for introducing textures etc... :)

  3. I really like the idea of natural play things for little ones! Will try this with Sean - though I am not really sure where I can get some nice smooth pebbles in SG!

  4. I've thought of letting my boy play with pebbles we have at home, but knowing him, am worried that he will bang them against our furniture, or worse, cause a crack on the flooring, haha! But i try to let him 'play' with fruits and veggies, as long as they are not the easily bruised kind. Sometimes, he will attempt to bite into them or carry them around and refuses to give them back!

  5. Olimomok: Hey, we have loads of these since we used to keep some in the fish tank. If you want, we can always pass you some... just drop me an email? ;)

    Ruth: Haha... ok, is your tiled flooring? Perhaps when he's slightly older you can give them to him and tell him he can't bang them if he does start trying... So funny to think of your boy running off with the fruits!

  6. I remember I used to have a little horse chestnut that I named (I forgot the name) and carried it in a little pouch and it was like my 'pet'.
    Also, when I was in primary school, we had a pet day at school and since I didn't have any pets, my parents helped me make one out of different sizes of rocks with shells for ears and eyes and dried plants around it and we glued them together (hot glue gun). Still have it here!! =D

  7. I saw some cones during our morning walk and this post came to my mind. I picked them up and handled it to Ally. And right away, she thought it was for food tasting. hahaa...

  8. Evergreen: That was so cute, having the pet! And wow, your parents are amazing, making the little "pet" using natural materials... :)

    Yvonne: Hahaha, so did you stop her in time? :)



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