Make Colorful Easter Grass from Kite Paper – a Spring Craft

Posted on March 26, 2015

Here’s a re-post of a fun and easy Spring craft — Easter grass made from kite paper.  It’s a beautiful alternative to the standard green plastic filler for Easter baskets and also adds a nice touch to gift boxes.  Enjoy this simple step-by-step guide.

A fun seasonal craft - make your own Easter grass - from Palumba, specializing in natural, non-toxic toys, crafts, home goods, and Steiner books.

–Judy

My Favorite Autumn Children’s Book

Posted on September 1, 2014

Child of Faerie, Child of Earth is my favorite autumn story for children. Jane Yolen’s enchanting poetry and Jane Dyer’s radiant watercolors weave a spellbinding tale of friendship that bridges two worlds as different as night and day. This has been a great back-to-school book at my house. It’s easy to re-establish bedtime routines for a new school year when you can share treasures like this one after the kids nestle in for the night. Click “read on” below and you’ll see why!

Summer Reading Kindergarteners Will Love (ages 4-7)

Posted on June 18, 2014

Palumba offers children's books for kindergarten and beyond, including Elsa Beskow and many Waldorf book titles.

Here’s a Summer Reading List that includes our family’s favorite books for kindergarteners.  Since all children are different, your child may have a different tolerance for longer stories. Here are some gems that will delight most children who are not yet reading independently.

Recently, I shared some favorite books with a customer who wanted a Summer Reading List for a five-year-old. Now that school has let out,  I’m sharing these treasured titles with all of you since I get so many requests for ideas.  Reading every evening as part of the bedtime routine makes for such wonderful interactions. The books listed here are enjoyable for adults as well as children, and provide rich artwork to nourish the soul. Click the headings or photos to learn more!

Summertime in the Big Woods, Prairie Day, or County Fair – My First Little House Books 

Laura Engalls Wilder stories for young children, children's books at Palumba natural toys and books.

Laura Engalls Wilder’s adaptations enthrall young children with tales of summer days in the Big Woods, moving to the Kansas Prairie, and Almanzo’s prize pumpkin.

Beautifully illustrated, engaging adaptations of Laura Engalls Wilder’s tales for young children, this series is a great segue from board books to short stories with beautiful pictures. They have been a staple in our reading library and even now, my seven-year-old son still loves them.  I think we’re probably close to passing them on, but I began reading these to my son when he was 4 years old. (4+)

How Does My Garden Grow? 

A newer work by Gerda Muller.  Her wordless board books are a staple for toddlers (Summer, Spring, Autumn and Winter), but this is a nice large book with about 10 lines of text on each page. Not only is the story sweet — Sophie lives in the city, but discovers much about how things grow when she visits her grandparents in the country) — but Muller also provides lots of great facts to get children interested in gardening.  (5+)

Gardening books for children at Palumba include how-does-my-garden-grow by Gerda Muller.

Sophie lives in the city, and her vegetables come from the supermarket. Then she goes to visit her grandparents in the countryside and soon discovers how much there is to learn about how things grow! This is a wonderful book for children to learn about allotment or vegetable gardening though Sophie’s eager and questioning eyes.

The Tomtes of Hilltop Stream and The Tomtes of Hilltop Farm 

Both of these are illustrated with lovely summer scenes, and are great beginning books with only 2-5 lines per scene.  The Tomtes are special beings who know how to take care of the farm and stream. (The third book, The Tomtes of Hilltop Wood, is great for autumn.) (4+)

How Groundhog’s Garden Grew 

Another gardening book that has around 5 lines per scene. It focuses on the busy work of a garden with beautiful illustrations. (5+)

Elsa Beskow Books 

For me, the Elsa Beskow books are a classic. They are bound beautifully I have met several families that consider them keepsakes to be handed down through the generations. Her spring/summer themed stories include: Pelle’s New Suit (4+), Emily and Daisy (5+), The Sun Egg (5+), and The Flower Festival (6+).

The Flowers Festival, Elsa Beskow children's books at Palumba Natural Toys and Home Goods.

The flowers invite Lisa to The Flower’s Festival. The Midsummer fairy drops some poppy-juice into Lisa’s eyes to make her invisible. At the top of the garden, Queen Rose sits on her throne welcoming all the guests, surrounded by her colorful court!

Flossie and the Fox 

Big Mama sends Flossie Finley on an errand with a warning. Beware – there’s a sly, egg-poaching fox on the loose! This is a cute southern folktale peppered with saucy humor and southern slang. (4+)

Flossie-and-the-fox African American children's books at Palumba Natural Toys

Big Mama sends Flossie Finley on an errand with a warning. Beware – there’s a sly, egg-poaching fox on the loose! This cute Southern folktale is peppered with saucy wit and humor.

A Year Around the Great Oak 

Another great book written/illustrated by Gerda Muller. In the spring, Benjamin, Anna and their cousin Robin go searching for the animals that live in the forest: snuffling badgers, gentle deer and shy rabbits. This sweet story covers all of the seasons, so it works great anytime! (4+)

Where Do They Go When It Rains? 

Click the title to view another adorable Gerda Muller tale.  The twins love splashing around in the rain, but where do the animals go? Sure to be a family favorite.  (5+)

The Frog Prince Re-told by Kathy-Jo Wargin

Click the title for a must-see version of this classic tale featuring beautiful artwork. (5+)

Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories, and More Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories 

I love these because there are 20 stories in each book. Click above to check out the Japanese artwork.  Each book features memorable stories and characters such as singing turtles, flying farmers, a dragon that weeps, fairy cranes, and more!

The Princess and the Pea

This is an enchanting rendition.  Click above to see the timeless classic tale beautifully illustrated by Maja Dusikova. (5+)

Butterfly Eyes

What creatures see colors that humans can’t?  What insect hides in a nest of bubbles? What plant is poisonous to all nibblers but one? All is revealed in Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow, an intriguing introduction to nature’s wonderful mysteries.  Click the title to see illustrations.  (6+)

The Story of the Butterfly Children

The Story of the Butterly Children, read-aloud books for kindergarten at Palumba Natural Toys and Home Goods

A unique and charming read-aloud tale with engaging illustrations that introduce children to the flowers in the butterfly kingdom.

This Silbylee von Olfers tale invites readers to experience the metamorphosis of ushering in spring. The children can’t wait to finally get their wings. But first, they must learn about the many brightly-colored flowers in the kingdom!

Roxaboxen

Roxaboxen appeared to be nothing but sand and rocks, some old wooden boxes, cactus and greasewood, but it was really a sparkling world of jeweled homes, streets edged with the whitest stones, and two ice cream shops. All children need to go to Roxaboxen is a long stick and a soaring imagination.This story is illustrated by Barbara Cooney (familiar to lovers of Miss Rumphius).

Roxaboxen, illustrated by Barbara Cooney, children's books at Palumba Natural Toys and Home Goods

Roxaboxen appeared to be nothing but sand and rocks, some old wooden boxes, cactus and greasewood and thorny ocotillo. But it was really a sparkling world of jeweled homes, streets edged with the whitest stones, and two ice cream shops. All the children needed to go to Roxaboxen was a long stick and a soaring imagination.

The Legend of the Bluebonnet

Tomie DePaola’s treasured artwork embellishes this sweet story about how an unselfish girl gives from her heart so the tribe can benefit. Native American children's books, Tomie DePaola's The Legend of the BlueBonnet, Palumba Natural Toys and Home Goods

Little Fairy’s Meadow Party

Daniela Drescher has written/illustrated many books. Most of them feature darkly rich colors, but this one adds brightness for summer. Click the title and feed your imagination… Faith the fairy needs a dress for Queen Wren’s meadow party, and the moon helps her out!

We have so many favorites, the list could go on and on! What books does your five-year-old love hearing again and again? Please share in the comments here and on our Facebook page!

–Judy

The Wonderful World of Waldorf Toys

Posted on April 28, 2014

Waldorf_dolls_inbed

Waldorf dolls use special materials to engage the sensory needs and imaginations of young children.

Over fifteen years ago, I fell in love with natural toys. At the time my first son was born, it was only natural since I lived in California and was already into natural childbirth, natural clothing, and natural foods. After my son turned one, we moved back to Michigan to be closer to family. There, one of my friends, Leslie, from my natural foods buying club introduced me to the world of Waldorf (she was enrolled in the Waldorf teacher training program). The year was 1999 and we were idealistic new parents, very conscious of health and the environment. When my son was two-year-old, I brought him to Leslie’s Waldorf playgroup, and watching his response to the toys and activities there, I knew the Waldorf approach to early childhood was something special.

“Waldorf” toys, named so because they are used in Waldorf schools, are intentionally simple to allow children the freedom of using their imaginations when playing. They are made of natural materials, beautiful to look at and feel good in your hands. Leslie and another friend who was also in Waldorf teacher training helped me to understand the philosophy behind Waldorf toy design.

Natural wood is beautiful, non-toxic, and pleasant to touch.  Play kitchen sets encourage hours of creative play.

Wood is one of the natural materials featured prominently in Waldorf toys.  It is beautiful, non-toxic, and pleasant to touch. Play kitchen sets like this also encourage hours of pretend, which nourishes children’s imaginations.

It boils down to this.  Young children approach toys with all of their senses (there are twelve senses – but that is another topic), beginning with touch, smell, and sight. As adults, we are attracted to or repelled by our environment based largely on our sense of sight, but little ones respond to their environment using touch and smell just as much. Equally important, Waldorf toys engage children’s natural curiosity because they encourage “pretend.” In short, when selecting toys, Waldorf educators ask questions like: How does it feel? How does it smell? Can it be played with in more than one way? In other words, will it nurture the imagination? This is what makes Waldorf toys so different.

Waldorf Dolls and Dollmaking

Waldorf dolls represent a special style that emphasizes natural materials and European doll-making techniques. Their bodies and heads are made of cotton and stuffed with wool, so they are naturally soft and warm to touch. Minimal facial features allow for the entire range of human expression through the imagination of the child. Additionally, holding a Waldorf doll gives the child a realistic experience, not only because it is warm, but also because the weight of the doll is significant, unlike hollow plastic dolls.

Waldorf dolls are made with pure organic wool  and cotton and  have simple facial features to allow for the full range of human expression within the child's imagination.

Waldorf dolls are made with pure organic wool and cotton and have simple facial features to allow for the full range of human expression within the child’s imagination.

The first time I took a Waldorf doll making class, I was excited to learn the steps first-hand…and then, I was surprised at how much time and effort was involved! The class comprised three two-hour weeks, plus nearly double that time in homework. My doll was the simplest kind, without sewn legs or a full wig, but I can still remember the cramps in my fingers from learning to wrap the wool roving tight enough to form a firm ball for the head. All this work changed my whole understanding of why the Waldorf dolls seem to be so expensive.

In class, we made our dolls with 100 percent wool innards and recycled fabric on the outside. A discarded turtleneck interlock was perfect for the face, and old sweaters made excellent bodies and hats. Even though my first doll has many imperfections, it is one of the most loved items in our playroom.

I understood Waldorf dolls better after making one in class.  Even though my first doll has many imperfections, it is one of the most loved items in our playroom.

I understood Waldorf dolls better after making one in class — here is the result of my effort! Even though my first doll has many imperfections, it is one of the most loved items in our playroom.

Playroom Favorites

Fast forward about 15 years: we now have three boys, ages 15 to 7, and my husband has trained as a Waldorf teacher and also spent three years home-schooling. Of course, our kids play with other toys too, but the perennial favorites haven’t changed much. It’s the playsilks, blocks, marbles, and most of all, playstands. I can’t even begin to imagine how many hours the kids have passed engrossed in fort-making and store adventures.

We now have three boys and my husband has trained as a Waldorf teacher and also spent three years home-schooling. Of course, our kids play with other toys too, but the perennial favorites are still the playsilks, blocks, marbles, and most of all, playstands. I can't even begin to imagine how many hours the kids have passed engrossed in fort-making and store adventures.

My husband eventually trained as a Waldorf teacher and has homeschooled our three boys.  They play with other toys too, but the perennial favorites are still the playsilks, blocks, marbles, and most of all, playstands. I can’t even begin to imagine how many hours the kids have passed engrossed in fort-making and store adventures.

Among the girls who play at our house and in the toyroom at the store, the Waldorf dolls and wooden kitchens are hugely popular. I’m very excited that we’ve just introduced a line of poseable dollhouse dolls that are made in the Waldorf style but without metal wire inside — our dollmakers use jointed string construction to achieve the poseable feature. Customers were raising concerns about metals inside dollhouse dolls, and we’re very pleased to offer this sweet alternative. Check them out here, and let us know what you think. We love hearing our customers’ stories. What Waldorf toys do your children love most?

–Judy

Our new Waldorf style dollhouse dolls feature Camden Rose craftsmanship, without potentially hazardous metal wiring inside.

Our new Waldorf style dollhouse dolls feature Camden Rose craftsmanship, without potentially hazardous metal wiring inside.

Making Pompoms with Colorful Wool Roving

Posted on March 21, 2014

Children's crafts for the natural home, by Palumba -- making pom poms with wool roving.

Pompoms are fun to make, and children find them irresistible to touch.  The easiest way to introduce these colorful balls of fluff into your craft-making repertoire is with a pompom maker.  These simple devices, which come in many sizes, will help you and your children create delightful garlands for any occasion. Here, we offer a new twist — making pompoms with wool roving instead of yarn, to give them an extra soft touch.

To create this sweet Valentine Wall Hanging, we used 100 percent wool felt (available by the half yard or in charm packs) and the 1 3/8″ pompom maker. Check out the step-by-step illustrated instructions in the full post to make your own. Pompoms can also be used to accent children’s clothing — just fasten to a zipper to pep up a child’s jacket. — and they make great soft ammunition for catapults!

Easter Grass from Kite Paper — A Homemade Alternative to Plastic

Posted on March 21, 2014

Ah, springtime! We’re still waiting for the snow to melt here in Michigan, but our friends down South are already welcoming new blossoms!  For many, Spring is also heralded by the anticipation of cherished traditions and celebrations.  Here’s a fun and easy craft for your Spring line-up in case you missed it last year.  Grass made from kite paper is a beautiful alternative to the standard green plastic filler for Easter baskets, and also adds a nice touch to gift boxes.  Enjoy this simple step-by-step guide.

A fun seasonal craft - make your own Easter grass - from Palumba, specializing in natural, non-toxic toys, crafts, home goods, and Steiner books.

–Judy

Pirates, Acorns, and Snow! Fun and Stories for Autumn and Winter

Posted on October 25, 2013

Pirate dress-ups, play silks, and toys for creative play at Palumba.com, a division of Camden Rose.

Here’s a photo of my youngest at Lake Michigan last Halloween. Find swords, hooks, play silks and more for your pirate (or princess) on our website!

How did it get to be the last week of October?  If you still have a child pondering Halloween costumes, may I suggest a pirate sword and hook from our Palumba collection?  Just add a play-silk cape and a silk bandana, pick up a patch, and your pirate is ready to go!

Once the excitement is over and the dark days and subzero weather hit, our family likes to snuggle up inside and r-e-a-d. Need fall and winter book ideas for your baby, toddler, or school-age child? I’ve picked three of my favorites to share — read on!

%d bloggers like this: