The Natural Way to Play

Natural and Creative Toys Alternatives to Plastic

Plastic toys seem to be the most popular choice for the consumer these days as the shelves of stores are filled with them. Maybe it is time to consider some alternatives. There are many natural and creative ‘toys’ that can be found in your home and nature.

Here are some alternatives to the toxic, sometimes noisy, plastic toys that you and the kids might enjoy more:

1. Small kids like to mimic what we do. Do you ever notice how they like to play in the cabinets and explore what is in there? Why not give them a cabinet and drawer in the kitchen filled with a wooden spoon, colander, wooden bowl, pot, lid, rolling pin, towel, washcloth, broom, dustpan and a fabric shopping bag. My one year old son spends so much time playing in this space and I always put in a few surprises for him to enjoy.

2. Make a drum or other musical instrument. You can use a recycled container with a lid (yogurt, ice cream) and have an already made drum or make one out of natural materials. Drumming is a great way for kids to connect with their heart and to calm themselves too. They can start a drum circle with their friends,family and neighbors. Kids can make instruments out of sticks that they can decorate and create music. Using paper towel rolls and filling them with dried beans and covering with recycled paper with decoration…you have a shaker!

3. Build a tent out of sheets, blankets or fabric. Okay, this must be every kids all time favorite! Drape them anywhere indoors or outdoors and they have their place space.

4. Rocks, seeds and sticks are plentiful enough. Building, jewelry making, stacking, creative and imaginative play in many different ways. And do not be afraid to let the kids bring them indoors. Relax and they will have even more fun.

5. Recycled clothing can be taken apart and used to make a special one of a kind doll. This is a great opportunity for the child to recognize their creative abilities on their own or share some time with a parent making it extra special.

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6. Play silks are a great way to soften the atmosphere of the play area. The silks can be used for imaginative play and dress up. Speaking of dress up…

7. Have a dress up basket. Fill a basket with scarves, beads, large fabric pieces, any any other unique finds. Dress up can help to expand childrens imagination which turn in to the most amazing creative adventures.

8. Using a flannel receiving blanket, soft cloth or a recycled silk scarf, you can make a cuddly doll for a small child. Use a little stuffing for the head. You can use a sock, wool or fluff from milkweed. Then make the arms and legs out of knots.

9. Write a book. Whatever the topic of interest, creating a book is a fun way to use the imagination as well as have a fun learning experience.

10. Growing a garden can be play. Let them dig in the dirt and select what they would like to plant. Kids love to eat food they grow themselves. What a great way for a child to be empowered, by growing their own food.

There are so many natural and creative ideas that come to mind. I realize that their are times when you want to purchase a toy or give a gift. Maybe you will consider checking out some of your local natural toy makers or companies such as Magic Cabin, Nova Naturals and mother owned small businesses for healthier alternatives to the plastic toys. Allowing yourself and children to enjoy creative imaginative play is good for the body, mind and spirit. Have fun!

Lisa R. Marshall is the facilitator of Path to Nature…honoring life through whole health, natural living, herbal healing, sacred celebrations & journeys. She is also a mother & doula. Lisa is a facilitator to those who want to make changes in their lives.

Please visit for further information or to contact the author.

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  1. Thank you for these simply good tips. I was thinking about getting rid of all our terrible, ugly, plastic toys. What is the best way to get rid of them? I would like to start getting real, natural ways to play or natural toys/things for our children to play with. Thank you, again for the tips. I would like some more information/websites to buy natural toys. Also, are there any stores you could walk in to buy natural toys?

    Thank you.

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  2. One of the best ways to get rid of old toys is with a Garage Sale. Most items that have not already met the trash can will usually have some life left in them. Have a sale and give all your slightly used toys a new home. You will also find that if you look hard enough, most communities will have a small, locally owned toy store that carries many of these rare “natural toys”. Just check the yellow pages to find a new place to re-stock your toy inventory. Most times you have to pay a little more, but the item you get is higher in quality and will most likely hold up longer.

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