This post is something I’ve been meaning to write for a long time, as I feel it is of utmost importance. It is about letting children be children. Or rather, creating an environment for them where they can do so.
One of the things I feel our modern society really lacks is the environment for children to explore the world on their own — to go off to places of their choosing, to run, to climb, get muddy and so on! Yes, there are special children’s gyms and classes and playgrounds. Some more fun than others, but neither is something a child can have access to on their own whenever they feel like it. I think it is sad that our children can’t freely go on exploring the world around them, leaving house after breakfast and coming back at dark as many of us and our parents did growing up.
On the other side, I’ve been seeing a number of educators expressing their concerns that more and more parents are very interested in getting their children some early academic development which implies sit-down classes, structured actives, etc. I’m not saying I’m against academic development, by any means. But I believe that a lot of it is best achieved in an environment where children can be free to explore, where they reach and withdraw on their own from objects, subjects and activities.
This is a vast topic of course and I don’t intend to cover it all in one post 🙂 … Instead I wanted to share with you some of my inspiration and a few practical things we’ve implemented that enriched lives of our children right here at home and I hope it can help your family as well.
“Cause a little bit of summer is what the whole year is all about.” — John Mayer
A little post sharing one of Eleon’s current favorite books that he’s been poring over on his own again and again. It is this lovely SUMMER book from our beloved Seasons series by Gerda Muller.
In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet and growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it for the most part spent out in the fresh air. — Charlotte Mason
The very first outdoor play spot we added was this sandbox back when Ale was just 1 year old. And it has been continuously a popular play space for both boys. As Ale has grown his games around the sandbox have changed, but he still loves it. And of course, anything that Ale is interested in Eleon is there as well!
With the long awaited summer being upon us I wanted to do this little post about children’s sandals that are so loved in our family. One of the main reasons for this blog was to share the products for children that are non-toxic, comfortable and sustainably made. I found such items hard to find in US, unfortunately. I think it is sad that craftsmen and boutiques have hard time staying in business due to competition with big corporations that flood the market with cheap, low quality merchandise which is often toxic and was produced at great cost to our environment and people making them. So when I find yet another brand, store, maker who offers us a different choice — I’m particularly excited to get it for my children and to share it with others.
This is not a sponsored post in any way. Just sharing the good things, since they aren’t easy to find in the ocean of the internet.
Alexandros turned 3 years this weekend! Few weeks before I asked him what he’d like for his birthday. This is how our conversation went:
— Me: “Ale, what would you like for your birthday?”
— Ale: “Garbage track! Yellow one. No, blue. No, white. No, red!”
— Me: “But you already have 2 garbage tracks…three actually.”
— Ale: “I want GARBAGE TRACK!” Big beaming smile! 🙂
So, we got him this big beautiful Fagus wooden garbage track from Wooden Wagon.
These three products, or their variations, are all that we use. No shampoos, no fancy lotions and special baby things…none of it. It saddens me to see all the chemically laden, plastic wrapped so called baby products all over the internet, magazines, not to mention supermaket shelves. Parents are made to believe that they need those to take care of their most loved little ones. But in truth our children need none of that. And with these basic products they could be cared for in a healthy, simple and sustainable way. 🙂
This isn’t a sponsored post. These products are just the ones we are using. You could use other similar ones. There are many small businesses offering great natural care products. You could also make your own.
No shampoo is needed. E.V.E.R.
A few months ago I came across these charming alphabet cards. I particularly liked them as they introduce both capital and small letters in a very associative and visual way. Ale already knows many Russian and English letters as we often talk about them a bit while reading our bed time stories. But the idea that same letter can have two different versions was rather confusing for him. And while in Montessori approach it is recommended to only introduce small letters at first, I found this to be impractical as all the books have both letters on their covers and naturally the subject of small and capital letters would always come into our discussions when we would start reading our bedtime stories.
So in these cards a small and a big version of the same letter is very nicely tied together through the same animal — the grown up one for the capital letter and a baby one for the small letter.
As the spring season is just around the corner I wanted to share this wonderful children’s book. This book was our favorite for many months when Ale was about 1 year old. We love gardening and so it was very relatable to him. And in its turn the book would make gardening activities and garden creatures even more interesting for him and offer him new knowledge about the garden’s goings.
As all Gerda Muller books it is exceptionally beautiful with very charming, realistic and detailed illustrations. And like all her books it is very informative for the little readers. One thing I especially love about Gerda Muller’s books is that due to the wealth of detail and information we can go back to them later again and again, each time discovering something new or re-discovering already known facts in deeper detail.
I decided to start a little series about beautiful animated films for children. Although I’m against children spending time in front of a screen and would rather have them running around and exploring the world around, I found myself using the iPad on a regular basis to keep Ale (our 2.5 year old little wildling 🙂 ) quiet when his little brother is asleep. So, it became important to find quality content for him to watch. Fortunately, there are a lot of beautiful children’s animated films from the Soviet era that he can watch and that I don’t object to as they are very artistic and have always a great positive story. Recently I found some of them to be also translated into English and thus this little series of beautiful animated films for children. I hope you enjoy them just as much.
I’m very delighted to share this new wonderful series of children books we’ve recently discovered yet again at Thrift Books. I’ve been very happy with this website as not only it is a great source of used books (saved trees), but I’ve found books there that I didn’t see anywhere else. And the books there also usually only cost $3-$5 each.
[ On the photo: Gnomes from Mama Owl; Ostheimer wooden animals from Wooden Wagon ]
How beloved is the beautiful tradition of decorating a tree, lighting the lights on it and waiting for the magical winter-y man to bring us some sweet gifts under the tree! This tradition has survived the rises and demises of kingdoms, cultures and religions. It has changed the name from Yuletide to Christmas and even became a New Year tradition in some countries. Yet, the tradition itself has barely changed in centuries and all of us big and small are excited every year to light up the tree and unwrap our gifts when the time comes. 🙂
A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change… Fewer than half of the bottles bought in 2016 were collected for recycling and just 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles. Instead most plastic bottles produced end up in landfill or in the ocean. — The Guardian
Which is why I’m particularly excited to share with you these beautiful coats by Lea & Jojo that are not only non-toxic (no PHTALATES, nor PVC, nor PFOA’S / PFO’S, nor AZO DYES, nor NONYPHENOL ETHOXYLATES), but are also made form 100% recycled bottles!
It seems like Ale’s world is so much about tracks these days — our kitchen is plastered with track stickers, floors are strewn with legos, we watch garbage track every Monday and go to bed with a tractor. So having this beautiful book as one of his favorite bedtime stories makes me particularly happy! He calls it the book about eagles — his favorite animal.
We don’t actually read the book. Instead my little eagle joins Mr. Bear as he digs for mussels under the rocks on the shore and then follows him into the woods to eat together some huckleberries (because that’s what the eagles do, right? ☺️) We ‘fly’ over the ancient forest and listen to the wolves as they howl to each other down below. We watch orcas play in the ocean and we share fish with mama whale. We listen to the rain and watch cougar emerge from the woods at sunset. And as the sun sets over the ocean and sky becomes studded with stars my little eagle lays down in his nest, I cover him with a blanket and we listen to some wolf howls and eagle calls on my iPhone as he is falling asleep. 💕💕💕 (scroll to the bottom to listen to the wolves howl!)
Here is Part 2 of my Organic Clothing series (read Part 1 on why organic clothing matters here). In this post I’m sharing all our favorite brands that make organic children’s clothes and stores where you can buy them. While there are many other brands and stores out there, these are the ones we’ve used and had just great experience with! 🙂 (See also this post on our favorite shoe brand – Pololo)
While some of these brands sell directly from their websites, others sell through dealers. I’m providing a link where you can get each of the brands listed. But also at the bottom of the page there are few links to online stores where you can find all of these beautiful brands and much more!
On the photo: Organic wool fleece jacket from Engel, organic wool overalls from Disana
I started writing this blog post several times, but always ended up tossing the draft away. It is such an immense and important subject that I found it difficult to make the post informative and useful without turning it into a long and boring doctorate essay :). So here I’m trying again and I thought first just to give a short version:
Reasons to go organic (short version)