Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stuff!!! Is it all necessary?

Imbedded in my long post a few days ago was this link to the movie about stuff that I really love. I wanted to repost it in a shorter post so that it doesn't get lost in the many of words of my last post!

Today Wildman Sprout's best friend's mama and I were talking and she was wondering if we like to hike (hee hee!!) lead to a quick agreement that we aren't ever planning on supplying Wiis or X-boxes for our boys which means we are going to need to be intentional about what we do when friends come over. When the family is heading out for a weekend backpacking trip or a day hike or a XC ski, we agreed that we need to stop for a second and include each other. It's probably easier to have the electronic toys, but with a little more intentional practice, I think we can happily avoid this. We'll see.

I know that today as I cleaned our Sprout's rooms, I realized that they don't have a single battery powered toy. It's not a conscious decision - it's just that every time they load up boxes to send to GoodWill, they put those battery powered toys in there but keep all the markers, craft supplies, Legos, Kitchen supplies, Tinker Toys, and building blocks. Check out Magic Cabin for a pluthera of toys for kids that believe in "Kid powered toys" not Battery Powered Toys. (Their mission has been guided by the simple notion that children's lives are enriched by ample time for open-ended, creative, imaginative play. They believe in good-old-fashioned make believe and in children's innate need to interact with simple, natural toys and crafts.) The toys that sing to my sprouts and blink at them don't let them stay creative and ultimately, they quickly lose their interest. The toys that allow for open-ended, limitless possibilities like a pile of Legos or building blocks they never grow tired of.

I wanted to point it out again!! Head on over to to watch a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

Let me know your thoughts as you battle the issue of stuff!! Let's brainstorm ideas of things to have around the house that could foster creativity, keep the kid's interested, and avoid the marketing traps (kids are the highest targeted niches in marketing. Boardrooms are full of people figuring out ways to get our kids to think they will not be happy without "It" and our kids are believing the billionaire tycoons.)

All ideas submitted by Thursday, Oct 2nd (I'd love a list of great website resources too in this vain) will be posted on Friday, Oct 3rd with your blog address. Great way to get more readers noticing your site!!

My ideas:
  • Our garage has a treadmill in it for rainy days. The kids like to run on that for fun.
  • Our garage has a pretty high end foosball table in it - our family routinely has foosball tournaments
  • Craigslist - find cheap deals on foosball, pingpong, and pool tables
  • Dart boards
  • Croquet, volleyball, and badminton for the backyard
  • B-Ball hoop for the front yard
  • BIKES!!! Scooters!! Rollerblades and skateboards, oh my!!
  • Board games
  • Puppets
  • Wooden Blocks, Legos, Tinker Toys, Marble maze construction sets
  • Doll houses/farm animals
  • Kitchen sets/tool sets
  • Crafts - keep that craft bucket packed!!
  • Puzzles
  • Marbles, Jacks, Pick up sticks


NKRobbins said...

I recently had the honor of writing a profile of Annie Leonard, creator of Story of Stuff, for the Sept/Oct 2008 issue of Women's Adventure Magazine. Annie is an amazing activist and mom doing very important work.

BeccaB said...

When I was little my brother and I made lots of sock puppets. You take a piece of cardboard and cut out a circle, fold it down the middle and stuff it to the end of the sock. Mom can put a little stitch in the middle of the "mouth" to make it stay. Add yarn, google eyes and felt pieces and you've got characters for all kinds of stories. We even have some elaborate ones with sock arms and legs, noses, beards and clothes!

When I was in high school and babysat I even brought materials for those kids to make some puppets to keep them from watching TV all summer. I saw them the other day (now in high school and college) and they started talking about those puppets! Good times!

Amanda P said...

I have some fresh ideas;

Mud pies. Don't tell me you've forgotten the fabulous feeling of squishing mud through your fingers!

Games. Games for sibs to play together, even better, games that I play with my boys to teach (counting, number and letter recognition, the meaning of symbols, rules, order, shapes, colors, etc.)

We keep 99% of the toys in a closet, and each boy gets to choose a "new" toy each week, after they've cleaned up their room well enough to be vacuumed.

Books, when 'advertised' around the house will be read!

Craft stuff- as Julie says. My experience is that if you make it available (kids 4 and up) will use is correctly, and only correctly. Scissors, yes!

Nature hikes, love 'em.

Lincoln logs and plain old blocks mixed with cars or small animals.

Train tracks are made to be built.

Legos, doctor sets (do include notepads and pencils) old costumes/dress up clothes.

I agree wholeheartedly with Julie that all this stuff doesn't provide much more than lust for more stuff. I see too that we must me intentional about setting up our stuff (ie: Julie's garage foosball table, or "letting" the kids make a huge mud pit in the backyard)

Say yes to mess!

Jennifer in OR said...

Hey Julie, great list! We love our homemade playdough, as you know. This would fall in the craft category, I suppose. Lots of regular cookie cutters of all designs to go with it.

Leftover building materials are also fabulous. Since we just finished building, we have lots. For example, the bits of leftover tile - the kids are using this for their own "garden paths," and are also making mosaics out of it.

Mandy said...

How funny...I hadn't read your blog for a couple of days...I just posted on this same thing! Great minds, eh! Love you, friend.

Mandy said...

Here's a couple more thoughts for your list:
school supply recycling: At the end of the year, tons of still good supplies get dumped. Gather 'em up and reuse 'em. We don't need the shiny new scissors, your old ones will still work. Kids get this stuff...they'll be thrilled to help their earth.