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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Five Reasons Why We Love Autumn…and So Should You!

The nights are getting darker and you’re just starting to feel that slight chill in the air that hints that things are changing. The scenery changes in a blast of colour, animals get back to work and you know in your gut that autumn is here.
Autumn is a time for fun, excitement and keeping warm and we love it! Here are our top 5 reasons why you should love autumn too…
Changing Scenery
The most spectacular thing about this season is the change in colours, shifting from green, the true colour palette is revealed in a beautiful mixture of red, gold and orange hues.
What’s better than sitting beneath a canopy of falling golden leaves on a crisp, autumn morning?
Top Tip: Choose areas full of chestnut, oak and beech trees for your viewing pleasure. If you’re planning a day out with the children, get them to collect as many different ‘shades’ as possible or you could see who can match the correct leaves to the trees.
Misty Mornings
After a cold, damp autumn evening one of the greatest things to do is take a morning walk in your local country park.
The mysterious atmosphere is stunning to behold. Be prepared for an early morning though as once the sun is high enough the lovely mist will burn away. Trust us, it’s worth it.
Pumpkin Madness
Autumn is a great time to get your hands on this fantastic vegetable. Autumn is all about the pumpkin. Try your hand at making pumpkin soup, lattes, pies and waffles. Everything could use a little pumpkin!
Old or young, Halloween is a fantastic holiday for everyone. Have fun at home making costumes with the kids…I wonder how many Elsa’s we’ll see this year? And don’t forget to join in yourself, there’s always room for an Olaf or two.
Make a costume for yourself, decorate your house. Heck, maybe even your pets would like to join in.
Go trick or treating and enjoy those yummy sweets.
Top Tip: Throw a Halloween party. After you’ve finished trick or treating come back to your spooky home for a ghastly party. Add green and red food colouring to make food more terrifying and have a scary movie viewing (The Nightmare Before Christmas and Hotel Transylvania are great for kids!)
Conker games have travelled through the generations and have always been a schoolyard favourite in autumn. Whoever can collect the biggest and hardest conker shall be the autumn conker champion. On your marks, get set, go!
If conkers aren’t your thing but you do have a sweet tooth, autumn is the perfect time to forage for a variety of tasty nuts and berries like blackberries and rosehips, add them to recipes for a fresh autumn twist or just wash and eat for a tasty treat.
There’s so much more about autumn to fall in love with, it’s time for you to explore. Share your favourite autumn photos with us on Twitter @OrganicToys

Friday, September 25, 2015

Turn off the telly and go play outside!

As a child, this is all I ever remember my mum saying during the summer, and occasionally over the colder seasons when she’d had enough of three kids under her feet all day.
Today, statistics show that most children spend less than 30 minutes playing outside each week! It’s hard to believe. I grew up building forts and climbing trees…and so it comes as a shock to realise that children these days spend so little time outside.
Naturally, it comes with the easy access to technology that children have in the home. I didn’t have a computer in the house until I was around 11 and even then because of the lack of children’s games and with the joys of dial-up internet it wasn’t worth staying indoors for.
Now, children have access to hundreds of television shows, not just the basic 4 or 5 that we grew up with. They have mobile phones, tablets, X-boxes, Playstations etc…you can see where I’m going.
As a parent, it can be easy to ‘forget’ about the importance of playing outdoors. As long as your kids are quiet and you can get things done it’s easy to fall out of the habit of encouraging outside play, so here are our quick tips to getting the whole family outdoors and having fun.
1.       Go on a picnic
Pack a basket, take plenty of blankets and go for a walk. Burn off energy whilst finding the perfect spot for your picnic.
2.       Create a water park
It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Break out the paddling pool and swimming toys. There are lots of other great and affordable water toys you can buy like sprinklers and slip ‘n slides etc or you could try making your own.
3.       Take a hike/Bike ride
Plan a scenic hike or bike ride around your local nature reserve or park and have fun spotting different creatures and plants. Take a nature diary (a blank notepad will do) and ask your children to draw the interesting things that they see.
4.       Feed the ducks
Who doesn’t remember going to the local pond to feed the ducks at the weekend. All you need is a left-over loaf of bread and some hungry ducksJ
5.       Play at the park
A great way to get kids outside and playing with others is to take a trip to your local park. Your children will love trying all of the different activities and equipment.
6.       Chalk paintings
We’ve all seen Mary Poppins – how great are the chalk paintings that they make? Give your children some chalk and a spare space of concrete or slabbing and encourage them to unleash their creativity and don’t worry, a water hose will clear things off afterwards. Why not try chalking out a hopscotch game or a huge board game like snakes and ladders? Then each child can be a playing piece.
7.       Car Wash
It’s not always a chore that you enjoy but most kids love washing cars. So load up on the sponges, rags and soapy water and let your children wash your car for you. You could also give them toy cars to wash. They’ll spend hours dirtying and cleaning their cars.
8.       Forget the BBQ…Have a campfire
If you have one, set up and light a fire pit and allow your children to roast anything they want on sticks from marshmallows to sausages. Tell stories, sing songs and if you’re feeling really adventurous you could always camp out in tents.
9.       Have an epic water fight
Arm yourselves with water soakers, balloons, buckets, bottles, and hoses…whatever you want and divide into teams. The least wet team or person (if there is one) is the winner. It’s a perfect way to stay cool on a hot day, just remember the waterproof sun cream and have plenty of towels to hand.
10.   It’s time for a treasure hunt
Make maps, leave clues and hide the buried treasure. Dress up your little pirates and let them look. For best results and equal fun give each pirate/team a different map, leading to different treasure so that no one feels left out. Great looking treasure maps are easy to make, just stain the map with a teabag and either tear or burn the edges for an authentic, fun look.
There are so many benefits to outdoor play with just two of them being fitness and creativity so get creative and go outside to play.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Go green this summer and avoid those toxic toys!

How many times a day do you find yourself running towards your baby or child who’s about to put something dangerous or gross in their mouth? Whether it’s dog food, the TV remote or a crayons, I’m sure you know the feeling….I bet it feels like all of the time.
Here’s another question for you? How often do you replace that dangerous thing with a toy and how many of those toys are just as dangerous?
No, I’m not talking about choking hazards. I’m talking about Toxic toys. They are everywhere and it’s surprising how little is known about them.
We’ve got the lowdown to help you avoid those toxic toys and tips to help you choose safe toys for your children.
What are the benefits of non-toxic toys?
Non-toxic toys can greatly improve and remove risks from your child’s health, giving you piece of mind whilst your child plays. They can also help to save you money as wooden toys in particular are extremely hard-wearing allowing you to pass them down through generations.
As natural toys are biodegradable you’ll also be making a huge impact on the planet and helping to preserve it for your children and theirs.
When you go shopping it’s important to avoid the following:
·         Toys made from toxic materials – check your labels and packaging and steer clear of ALL toys that do not declare themselves as being free from lead, which can seriously damage a child’s nervous system. It’s also important to avoid vinyl and plywood which can leak fumes and contain harmful chemicals. Also be on the lookout for toys finished with toxic paints.
·         Imported toys – help keep your planet clean and reduce your carbon footprint by buying toys from the UK.
Instead you want to look for:
·         Toys made from high-quality wood – choose toys made from sustainable sources and coated with non-toxic paints such as vegetable or water-based finishes.
·         Toys made from natural fibres – things like dress up costumes made from natural cotton and silk are fantastic choices and always great fun.
·         Recycling – if you want to be super green, you can always find toys that are made from clean, recycled materials.
Have you considered making your own toys?
D.I.Y toys are fun to make and to play with. Break out those old baby outfits and make a dress-up dolly or bear and if you’re not afraid of a bit of elbow grease. Try making your own wooden toy or block, being sure to sand it down thoroughly.
Alternatively, you can find a wide selection of high-quality wooden toys in our online store and if you have any questions about natural toys feel free to get in touch.