"All good things are wild and free." --Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

4 Simple Nature Toys for Little Kids

Okay, so these nature toys are so simple, you might roll your eyes as you read on. But to a little kid manipulating bits of nature is just a lesson in fun. The other day we were walking and picking things up on the path, and with the kid's help, dried sticks and seed pods morphed into spears, umbrellas, and bouquets. Check it out! 

  1. Take a long piece of dried fennel and denude it except for the topmost spray of dried flowers, which acts like an arrow's fletch to make a perfect aerodynamic drag.  
  2. Your hand is the balance point as you aim.
  3. Fire!
  4. Send kid to retrieve (except from big clumps of poison oak).

Okay, so Pampas grass is terrible and invasive in California and it'll surely make a bigger mess of things with this game. I've been guilty since childhood (bringing Pampas grass into my bedroom where it'd shed it's flaxen pieces all over proving it wrecks havoc indoors and out.)

  1. Your kid finds a choice piece of Pampas grass. 
  2. The parent cuts it off (it's hard!).
  3. Your kid becomes a Queen or a King on their walk. 


The Pampas Umbrella is quite similar to the "scepter," above, except you need a hat to stick on the end of it. Alternatively a piece of Pampas grass can become an impromptu broomstick or baton.


Who doesn't like the smooth, slippery feeling of pinching the bottom of a piece of grass and running your fingers up, making a pretty bouquet? It took a bit of hand-holding to teach my kid how to do it, but once she got it, all I heard for the rest of the walk was "Foxtail bouquet! Foxtail bouquet!"

  1. Pinch the base of a grass stalk heavily laden with seed heads. 
  2. Run your fingers up its length, holding tight. 
  3. Ta da! A foxtail bouquet fit for a fairy or a three year old. 

*                     *                        *                      *

In parting, take a gander at the photo below. Fennel spears aren't just fun for little kids.