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Wooden Toys

Waldorf Toys

In Praise of Rocker Boards

If you were to ask me to recommend my one favorite Waldorf toy, I would have to tell you the Rocker Boards!

You might be surprised, because rocker boards may not yet be thought of as classic Waldorf toys. They are, in fact, a relatively new addition, but I’m confident that in very little time rocker boards will become synonymous with “Waldorf toys”—just like Waldorf playstands, Waldorf dolls, and play silks.

My Introduction to the Wonder of Rocker Boards

I’d been teaching early childhood classes in a Waldorf school for many years, but had never seen nor heard of this toy until one of my colleagues brought two of them back from the East Coast Waldorf Early Childhood Conference in 2006.

When I first saw this unusual plaything–a piece of high quality, thick plywood, about three feet long and one foot wide, curved into a perfect quarter-circle arc–I wondered how interested the children would be and what could be done with them.

I knew how beneficial rocking is for a child’s development: it stimulates the vestibular (balance) system and aids a child’s sense of proprioception (the awareness of being in one’s physical body). It seemed like a good toy for allowing rocking indoors.

I knew how important balance is for a child’s brain development, and it seemed like a good and possibly therapeutic toy for certain children.

Waldorf Wooden Balance Board | Rocker Board

What I didn’t yet know was how much children love this toy!

Rocker Boards in the Classroom

We introduced the rocker boards in our classroom in February of that year, and the children wasted no time in finding them and putting them to use.

I was amazed at all the ways they found to play with them. My limited adult thinking assumed that this was a toy for children to stand on, with one foot on either end, on which they could rock back-and-forth.

I didn’t yet realize it could be so much more!

Right away, these boards became the most popular toys in our classroom. They were the first toys the children would go to as soon as snack time was over and play time began.

Yes, children would stand on them and rock, but they found so many other uses for them:

  • The rocker board would become a slide, with one end propped up on a Waldorf playstand.
  • Tipped over, it became a bridge. The children would act out stories, like the “Three Billy Goats Gruff” and trip-trap over the bridge.
  • It became a sailboat, carrying fishermen off to sea as they cast their nets.
  • It was a pirate ship sailing through mighty storms.
  • It was a cradle for a mama (a 5-year-old) to rock her baby (a 3-year-old) to sleep in.

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green toys

Bella Luna Toys Wins Green America’s Seal of Approval

I am over-the-top excited to announce that this month Bella Luna Toys was awarded the Green America Business Seal of Approval!

The seal is presented to businesses that go beyond product and service quality to set the highest standards in environmental sustainability and social justice, and work to solve, rather than create, environmental and social problems.

In order to be considered, I was required to fill out an extensive questionnaire documenting Bella Luna Toys’ eco-friendly practices and listing the countries of origin and fair trade and/or fair labor practices of all the toy companies whose products we carry.

Once this application was reviewed by Green America, I was sent a list of further questions and requests for documentation and certifications for our Fair Trade toys and documentation of sustainable forestry for our wooden toys.

After a months-long process, I was delighted to finally receive the news that Bella Luna Toys had been granted the prestigious Seal of Approval and permission to display Green America’s logo on our website!

Reader’s Digest Names Bella Luna Toys “Best Website for Fair Trade Toys”

And if that wasn’t enough good news for one month, last week  Reader’s Digest named Bella Luna Toys as one of  the “Best Websites for Fair Trade Toys.”

The article was posted in February on the magazine’s website. The editors wrote: “Fair Trade is a social movement trying to reduce poverty in developing countries by encouraging fair global trade practices and ensuring an equal and fair partnership between marketers and producers.”

Fair Trade Toys

Sarah's Silks Workers in China

What This Means For You

  • It means that when you shop for Waldorf toys at Bella Luna Toys, you are assured that all the toys we carry are made in the USA, Europe and Canada, or are Fair Trade made in other parts of the world using Fair Labor practices.
  • All of our wooden toys are made from certified sustainable forests, or from salvaged and recycled wood.
  • That in mindfulness of the earth’s limited resources, we use recycled gift wrapping paper, eco-friendly ribbon, and reuse boxes and packing materials, and recycle our own paper waste. In addition, Bella Luna Toys purchases credits to heat our office and warehouse space with renewable energy.

Hope you’ll join me and the thousands of individual members of Green America by choosing to shop with businesses who are committed to supporting the environment and social justice.

Are there any new green, eco-friendly or fair trade toys that you think should be offered at Bella Luna Toys? Leave your suggestions here.

One commenter will be chosen at random to win a FREE set of Eco-Eggs natural egg dyeing kit from Eco-Kids! (Winner will be chosen Friday, March 4 at 9:00 a.m.)

Congratulations to Krista H., winner of a free set of Eco-Eggs natural egg dyeing kit from Eco-Kids!

And many thanks to all of you who left your comments and great suggestions. Many of your ideas were already on the list of new products to add this year, and others gave me some terrific new ideas.

Keep your eyes peeled for many new Waldorf toys, all natural toys, and wooden toys to be added in the coming weeks and months at Bella Luna Toys.



Natural Toys, Sarah's Silks, Waldorf Toys

Mothering Magazine’s “Best Natural Toys of 2010”

Natural Toys from Bella Luna Toys

I am delighted that six new items from Bella Luna Toys‘ collection of natural toys were chosen by the editors at Mothering magazine as among the Best Natural Toys of 2010 featured in the new November/December issue!

Which items, you ask? Well, here they are!

Waldorf Birthday Crowns

Waldorf Felt Birthday Crowns

Waldorf Birthday Crowns

These gorgeous Waldorf birthday crowns are handmade in Maine by my friend and former classroom assistant, Jes Anthonis. Jes is a mama and crafter who is starting her own Waldorf childcare program at home. Available in petal pink or green, for ages 1 to 6. Aren’t they sweet?

Fairy Dress from Sarah’s Silks

Fairy DressNew from Sarah’s Silks, a magical Fairy Dress with rainbow wings that attach to the wrists with elastic bands.

Wool Felt Crown Set

Waldorf ToysI adore this cheery, Wool Felt Crown Set set made of thick New Zealand wool with matching cuffs. It’s Fair Trade made in Nepal, and was one of my favorite finds this year!

Fairy Garland Set

Fairy CostumeThis charming Fairy Garland Set features a garland of felted vines that ties around the head, with a 100% silk veil. Can be worn as a headpiece or cape. I just love the little hanging felted bumblebees, don’t you?

Big Drum from Plan Toys

I’ve been wanting to add more kids musical instruments at Bella Luna Toys. Here are the two newest additions, which will help to develop a child’s eye-hand coordination and sense of rhythm.

Plan Toys, Big DrumThe Big Drum is our first addition from Plan Toys, a line of wonderful eco-friendly wooden toys, from which we’ll be adding many more new products in the coming weeks.

Tambourine from Plan Toys

Plan Toys Tambourine, Kids Musical Instruments…and the colorful Tambourine from Plan Toys. (Love the Bella Luna blue with moon and stars!)

Hope you’ll agree with the Mothering editors that these are among the best!

What are your favorite natural toys of 2010? Have you seen any wonderful wooden toys or Waldorf toys that you think should be added to Bella Luna’s collection of natural toys? Share your ideas here and win a $5 gift certificate to Bella Luna Toys if your suggestion is added!

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