How to Make Perfect Play Dough at Home

How to Make Perfect Play Dough at Home

A few months back I wanted to test the eco cutters we have available on the store, but I didn't have any play dough to test them, so I decided to check the internet to see if I could find a quick and easy recipe. 

I looked YouTube for a few minutes then got to work. I think I tried three recipes. The worst I found simply mixed conditioner with flour. At first it was very soft and fluffy. I got excited and handed it right to my son. He took it from the kitchen to the playroom and then said, "mommy, I make big mess." I look over and the "play dough" had crumbled apart and was all over the playroom rug. Tired from trying recipes and getting nowhere, I brought out the vacuum and gave up. 

I'd completely given up on making my own play dough when I came across a post by @beadiebugplay where she mentioned making dough frequently as gifts! She sounded like a pro, and enough time had passed that I was ready to try my hand at DIY play dough again. I reached out and @beadiebugplay was kind enough to share the recipe with me. I'll be honest, my little helper took a bit of convincing. He didn't enjoy our past attempts at DIY play dough.

After a bit of convincing, we got our ingredients ready and started making our dough. He had fun making it AND fun playing it with. I think I'm still in shock by how good this recipe really is. A few days after making it I was surprised to see the dough was still moist. Later, we left on a trip then brought it out after about a week, and the dough was still moist! I don't know how long we've had it now, maybe a month? and it is still going strong. Below is the recipe exactly as it was given to me from from @beadiebugplay

🍁 Dry ingredients:
2 cups plain flour (my mum once used gf flour, which made it spongy and fun, so try that out if you’re gf)
1/2 cup table salt (not coarse or sea salt, it’s difficult to dissolve)
2 Tbsp cream of tartar

🍁 Wet ingredients:
2 Tbsp of oil (I use light olive oil or coconut oil)
1.5 cups boiling water
2 Tbsp glycerine (optional but it will last a lot longer)

🍁 Get a small person to whisk your dry ingredients all over the bench, add wet ingredients and stir well until you form a sticky dough. Allow it to cool for 5 mins. DO NOT add extra flour at this point, even if it looks sticky. NO TOUCHY for 5 minutes. Scoop onto a board, knead for 2 mins and it should form a nice consistency. If it’s too sticky then you can add small sprinkles of flour until the stickiness is gone.

Follow us in Instagram @happygiftcompany and let us know if you tried this recipe. 

August 07, 2021 — Barbara Chernyukhin
Montessori & Waldorf Understanding their Basic Differences and Similarities

Montessori & Waldorf Understanding their Basic Differences and Similarities

It's always best to start with what we have in common and then dive into our differences, so today let's begin with what Montessori and Waldorf education have in common.
 
To start both Montessori and Waldorf ideology focus on the education and well being of the whole child. This means they both consider spiritual, mental, physical, psychological health, over any academic curriculum. They both provide an environment rich in art, music, dance, and theater at all ages. They lead with great respect for the child and see them as individual, spiritual, and creative beings. Fun fact, both schools were shut down by Nazis during WWII because they refused to teach the ideology of the state.
 
Maria Montessori (1870-1952)
The Montessori approach was founded by Maria Montessori, a medical doctor and anthropologist. She opened the first "Casa dei Bambini" in Rome, Italy in 1907.
 
Unlike traditional schools, Montessori students are not grouped with children their own age rather, they are grouped in 3-6 year age span (for example 3-6, 6-12, 12-15). In a typical Montessori "classroom" a teacher is more of a facilitator and often dedicates individual time to each of her students or helps facilitate and activity with a small group. Often it is older children that teach or lead younger children in their learning, and while a teacher will give guidance, the choice of what to work on is up to the child.
 
The focus on Montessori learning is in real world experiences and the use of real world tools and materials. You'll find children at Montessori homes use scaled versions of household items like pitchers, brooms, and other tools necessary for every day life. Learning techniques for many of the materials are considered “keys” which open a door of new understanding. Maria's first focus was introducing children to real world tasks and discipline. Academic lessons came later at the request of parents. To this day, lessons are never required. Instead, they are offered to and enjoyed by the children.
 
Montessori environments typically only include realistic images and books. With no fantasy presented at all.
 
Since learning is lead by the child, not the teacher, children learn early to research and learn beyond what the teacher presents. While a child is "working" their concentration is protected from interruption. Because of this approach high academic levels are the norm in Montessori education.
 
Looking for a great Instagram account to follow for inspiration? One of our favorites is @followmontessoriathome.
Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)
Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian scientist and philosopher, founded the Waldorf School at Stuttgart in Germany in 1919 for the children of the factory workers of the Waldorf Astoria Cigarette Company at the request of that company's director.
 
At Waldorf institutions traditional academic subjects are not considered to be enjoyable and are put off for as long as possible, until about the age of seven. Instead, Steiner believed in the unity of spirit, soul, and body, so children spend their day enjoying the arts and letting their imaginations flourish with make-believe activities.
 
Unlike Montessori classrooms, Waldorf classrooms are more traditional. Children are kept in groups with other kids their own age and sit at desks while their teacher talks. However, unlike traditional schools, Waldorf schools move teachers with children from year to year allowing them to work with the same group of students for up to 6 years.
 
Focus during the first years is placed on art, music, and make believe play and teachers play the role of performers that initiate play and learning. Imaginary play is thought to be a catalyst through which the child grows and develops. In Waldorf eduction fantasy is considered so alive in a young child that it is a key and integral part of how a teacher should work with a child.
 
Looking for a great Instagram account to follow for inspiration? One of our favorites is @waldoreducation.
October 26, 2020 — Barbara Chernyukhin
How Affirmations Can Boost Confidence in Kids

How Affirmations Can Boost Confidence in Kids

Daily affirmations are a great way to condition our children to think more positively about themselves and the world around them.

Practicing affirmations daily helps build positive thinking patterns that can aid our children's success well into adulthood. Especially during these difficult times when kids have been separated from their friends, family, and many other aspects of what they previously considered normal life, it is nice to start a ritual centered around a positive outlook.

Practicing daily affirmations doesn't have to be difficult, they can easily be incorporated into daily activities like getting dressed, playing, and coloring. Children should not be a forced into this activity, but rather the activity should work around their schedule and it should be introduced in a relaxed moment where you can enable our children to appreciate themselves.

Below are a few tips for how to practice daily affirmations:

  1. Select an affirmation with your kids, and repeat the affirmation everyday for 2-3 weeks. For example; "I am beautiful inside and out".

  2. You should encourage your child to repeat the affirmation 5-10 times each day. It's important this is presented to them in a positive way they will adopt, never with a sarcastic tone or in a way that may lead them to believe it is not real/true.

  3. Practicing affirmations should not be a serious process, it should be light and fun. Affirmations can be repeated as your child brushes their hair, gets dressed, or as they put on their shoes to leave the house. You don't have to repeat them in the same place or at the same time every day, but a good time to practice affirmations is first thing in the morning or right before bed. These times will allow you to start and end the day on a positive note.

  4. You can introduce this new ritual by explaining to your kids that affirmations are magic words. When said with conviction and repeated often, they will come true.

 

October 26, 2020 — Barbara Chernyukhin
How to Encourage and Make a Habit of Independent Play

How to Encourage and Make a Habit of Independent Play

Below are a few of the tactics I implemented to drive and encourage independent play from an early age.
October 25, 2020 — Barbara Chernyukhin
The risks of buying counterfeit products

The Risks of Counterfeit Products

While most people think of purses, shoes, and other fashion garments when they think of "counterfeit," the truth is every industry is affected by counterfeit products including the toy industry.

E-commerce platforms like Amazon make it especially easy for consumers to inadvertently purchase a counterfeit product because e-commerce platforms don’t verify the authenticity of the products sold on their platforms. In fact, when a counterfeit seller wishes to add a fake product to Amazon's platform they can use the exact same product information and product images as the authentic seller making it virtually impossible for a buyer to know which product they are purchasing.

Our goal is to provide our customers with the best quality products. This means products that are made with high quality materials, are non-toxic and adhere to high safety standards. In order to achieve this goal, we verify that we're offering our customers only authentic products.

A counterfeit product isn't just a cheaply made product. Below are some of the many concerns consumers should be aware of when it comes to counterfeit products.

Counterfeit products may contain toxic materials.

Products are generally priced a certain way because of the cost of manufacturing that product. In order to produce and sell a product at half the cost, it’s likely a manufacturer would have to cut many corners. The counterfeit version is likely to use low-grade or unregulated materials like metals, plastics, fabrics and paints that could be contaminated with heavy metals, phthalates, bisphenols and more.

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BEWARE OF THE COPYCAT❗️ . We have been manufacturing wooden toys for almost 40 years with the determination to produce toys that promote child development, environmental action and child safety. Unfortunately, we’ve recently noticed that there are many toy manufacturers who are imitating PlanToys products and selling them openly. As a company that values honesty, community and product quality, we want to encourage YOU and all of our customers to beware of these toy and company imitations. From the outside, these toys may seem very similar to PlanToys products. . However, we can assure you that our materials, production process, devotion to the environment, child development and safety will forever set us apart! . #PlanToys #SustainablePlay #woodentoys #childdevelopment #playmatters #ecofriendly #educationaltoys #childrentoys #learningthroughplay #betterkidsbetterworld #toysforkids #copycat #fake

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Counterfeit products are not tested for safety.

Open marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Facebook do not have ANY legal responsibility for the products sold on their platform. This means any toy, book, or household product you purchase from counterfeit sellers can be sold without safety-testing or authentic safety certifications.

As part of an investigation, a counterfeit version of the Doona Car Seat Stroller was purchased on Amazon by CNN and taken to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute for testing. In a 30 mph crash test, the car seat failed to meet the basic standards set by US regulators and shattered into pieces on impact.

Read more about CNN’s investigation into fake and dangerous kids products sold on Amazon.

(source: www.theTot.com)

Counterfeits are bad for the environment.

With little regard to manufacturing and production standards, counterfeit products pollute the air, waterways and health of factory workers. They also contribute an enormous amount of waste into landfills every year.

Counterfeit products may lead to loss of money at best or your identity at worst.

If you’re unhappy with your purchase, chances are the online seller will be gone and trading under a new name before you have time to address the issue. The worst part: they will be gone with your name, contact details, and other personal information.

Counterfeits fund crime syndicates.

Another area to consider when purchasing a counterfeit product is where your money is going. Sadly, it’s potentially funding a crime syndicate that traffics children, drugs, and guns. We generally purchase with worries about chemicals and safety for ourselves, but by buying counterfeits we may also be supporting exploitation and other forms of organized crime.

Counterfeits damage the economy.

By purchasing a counterfeit product, you’re unknowingly denying a tax-paying company the chance to provide jobs that increase the value of the economy. You’re also most likely supporting a company that does not pay fair wages to its own workers.

With counterfeit sellers using brand photography, logos and descriptions, it is increasingly difficult to determine if you're purchasing an authentic product. Below are a few things that should raise red flags, and remember, if it's too good to be true, it's most likely counterfeit.

  • Verify the seller's information by checking their email address and location.

  • Do the reviews look and sound authentic?

  • Compare the price you see to the manufacturers website. Does it look similar? (If it’s too good to be true, it most likely is!)

  • Are there spelling and grammatical mistakes?

  • Do they advertise any certifications or safety standards?

Many of the toy companies we work with do not allow third party selling on e-commerce platforms. Not all the time, but many times you can check the company's website for a list of approved resellers. For example, here we are listed as an approved seller for Connetix Tiles:

Hopefully this post will help you avoid purchasing a fraudulent product whether it's a toy or something else.

October 21, 2020 — Barbara Chernyukhin
Essential Toys for Every Playroom

Essential Toys for Every Playroom

When you’re putting together your dream playroom there are three types of toys you want to make sure are present at every stage of your child’s development.
October 16, 2020 — Barbara Chernyukhin
Open-Ended Play Ideas with Playsilks

Open-Ended Play Ideas with Playsilks

From infant to child, your kids will be mesmerized by the number of ways they can use and the beauty of playsilks. My first introduction to playsilks was at my son's music class. We began attending when he was about year old, and a few of the musical activities utilized playsilks. Now he's over two years old, and he still enjoys playing songs while twirling, spinning, and running around with playsilks.
 
As I watched his eyes sparkle at the site of twirling silks, I remembered my own childhood and how much I loved to play pretend with capes and build forts. In that moment I realized playsilks are a must have open-ended toy. I immediately set out to browse playsilk options to add them to our playroom at home.
 
There are a lot of cheap options for playsilks, but after doing some research and reading a ton of parental reviews, I realized they wouldn't last us very long as the cheaper options were likely to fray and rip. Then I came across Sarah's Playsilks. Sarah's Playsilks are high-quality, died with non-toxic, eco friendly dyes, and they have been safety tested for children. I decided Sarah's Playsilks were the best option for our family, and now for our store. You can start your collection with a few playsilks or add them to your playroom one at a time.
 
Are you looking for some inspiration? Below are just a few ways to use Sarah's Playsilks.
  1. Peek-a-boo. They're soft to the touch and perfect for tactile play.
  2. Dress up play. They can be used as capes, skirts, flags, and more.
  3. Build a fort. Giant playsilks are perfect for hanging them over couches, pickler triangles, and chairs to build your very own fort.
  4. Small world pretend play. A blue silk can represent water, a green silk can represent grass, a brown silk mud, and a yellow silk can be a dessert.
  5. Take them outdoors. Fly them around, splash them in the waves, or use them as a picnic blanket.
  6. Real world practice. Learn to fold, thread, or take them in the bath to clean them.
  7. Dance with them. Twirl, spin, and hold them as you shake about.
  8. Pull out games. Stuff them into tissue boxes, containers, or other bottles and let your little ones pull them out.
  9. Put on a show. Use your playsilks to act out your favorite book.
  10. Use as a blanket. Kids can use their playsilk to tuck themselves in or to tuck in their favorite stuffed animals.
What are some of the ways you and your kids have used playsilks?
October 01, 2020 — Barbara Chernyukhin