Saturday, September 19, 2009

TV free time

"The TV has spent much more time raising us than you have" Lisa to Homer in The Simpsons. Ironic isn't it.

Christie from Childhood 101 made the interesting observation that this week is "turn off the TV week" in the USA. What a wonderful thing!!! I'm all for encouraging Australian famlies to do the same.

Research has found that too much exposure to the electronic media may risk developmental blocks in young children, not to mention:
  • Difficulty switching off

  • Blunted senses, visual strain, understimulation of the brain

  • Social isolation and withdrawal

  • Less creativity and imagination

  • Commerical exploitation

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Attention deficit

  • Desensitisation from information overload

  • Exposure to violence

There's so much to be gained as a family from switching your TV off or even limiting the time to once a week. For instance in the evening you could try:

reading novels together;

taking up a craft like knitting or crotchet;

playing board games;

telling a story by candlelight;

putting on a puppet play or a concert.

Just eating dinner and talking around the table instead of having the TV blaring in the background has so much to offer - sharing each other's days, listening to your kids and knowing what is happening in their lives, relationship and communication skills.

I guarantee that once your children have more TV or computer free time you will stop hearing the words "I'm bored".

I know for some families it might pose a challenge at first, but the benefits are really worth it. For more information on research into children's development and eletronic media, and for ideas to support your family in turning your TV off, I can highly recommend Set Free Childhood a parents survival guide for coping with computers and TV.

Your stories - Immy and her Treeblocks

This morning I received the second of our new stories - families sharing their play - I know I am really going to enjoy this new series of posts - I love seeing children at play - they have such a innate sense of wonder and joy, that should be cherished, nourished and protected. Thank you to Immy's mum for sharing this with us. I love the look of concentration on Immy's face.

There is nothing nicer than opening a big orange bag and finding it filled with...
Tree Blocks!

Last night, Immy had a lovely time unpacking her brand new, big bag of blocks and stacking and re-stacking them. They were a gift from her lovely Aunty Beef. As well as building, she banged them together, drummed on them and tried using the big rounds as stepping stones!
This morning, the first thing she went to was that lovely, bright orange bag. With a very little assistance from me, she did a great job of building with them. They are so divine... they smell good and have great texture and I love their irregularities. What fun we will have!
Find Treeblocks at Honeybee here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sarah's Silks

At our house we have baskets of beautiful playsilks, which are used endlessly for the dollhouse, dressing up, the seasonal table, and more recently...the toys dressing up for book week.

Brownie as Snow White...
Grey Rabbit as Little Red Riding Hood...

And Teddy as Dumbledorf (by the way this is the first toy I ever bought my daughter just before she was born 11 years ago and she still hugs him every day!)

Sarah's Silks who are responsible for making these beautiful playthings have just produced a wonderful new slideshow to show how their products are made ethically in China, it's really interesting. We are very careful about what we buy from China as conditions are often so poor there for workers, but it's a fine line because these families need to put food on the table too, so it's inspiring when I see that with a little extra effort change can happen.

You can view it here:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Liliana's play corner

A very special customer sent this photo in of her play corner and her lovely Ostheimer toys...

A new chapter...

In the next week or so you'll notice some changes to our toy shop blog. I've decided I would like to do things a little be honest I want to write from the heart, and share with you what I have witnessed and experienced as a mother of the last 11 years - how natural play, art, craft and music has enriched and nourished the lives of us and our children....

I've never been a marketing person, and nor do I ever want to be...the last thing I want to do is write endlessly about products all day, no matter how good they are. What I would love to do is have a rich collection here of the joys of imaginary play, craft ideas, ways to enjoy each season, ideas on how to celebrate children's birthdays and special moments in our lives. Our family has been inspired by the work of Rudolf Steiner, so you will find much here that draws on that tradition.

But we also want to hear your stories, there is no greater gift to us than seeing a child find joy in one of our toys - so please send your photos and stories to and we will post them on this blog.

As part of our story, you might also find here a little of why we do what we do too in our business. What motivates us and our suppliers...where people and the environment are respected.

May the stories flow...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Look what's just arrived!!!!!!!

We are very excited about these beautiful blocks that have just arrived in store. Still made in the USA by hand using an embossing process that makes it appear as if each letter and fine detail has been carved individually. These are truly superb!

They come in a range of languages too including: French, Italian, German, Dutch, Hebrew, Mandarin, Greek and many more.

These have been flying out the door in our Malvern store. They make a really beautiful Christening or newborn gift, and will be a truly heirloom toy.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lovely new friends...

Look who popped in for a teaparty this week!!! I'll be adding them to our website over the next week or so, if you have a little person in your life that would like a special doll.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Book Review: I Think, I AM!

A few weeks ago, I came across this thoughtful children's book by Louise L Hay (metaphysical teacher and the author of the international bestseller You Can Heal Your Life). I Think, I Am introduces children to the idea that how they "think" and approach a situation can change the way they feel about it.

The book begins on opening to the title page where we see a little girl looking in the mirror and the words: Af*fir*ma*tion - Words that you think or say, and believe to be true.

Beautifully illustrated, there are many practical examples of how children can change their negative thoughts into positive ones, and how they have the power within themselves to change the way they see the world. "When waiting around is not what you planned, you may start to have negative thoughts...this line is so long. We will never get into the fair. Picture the fun you will have and say...I make today great."

I was recently disappointed with the release of Eckhart Tolle's book for children Milton's Secret, where the story is a little laboured and the wonderful idea of The Power of Now is somewhat muddled for a child. However, I like Louise Hay's straightforward and matter of fact approach to teaching children the power of affirmations, and the fact that she includes a section at the end to teach children how to make up their own affirmations, makes this book practical as well encouraging thoughtful discussion between you and your children.
To purchase this book please visit our stores or our website here.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Russian Nesting Dolls a dying art!

It was with great sadness that I read in The Age newspaper a few days ago, that the future of the Russian Nesting doll, properly known as "matroyshka" and fondly known as "Babushka" is now uncertain.
Sergiyev Posad, 80 kilometres north of Moscow, is considered the birthplace of the matryoshka. But factories that have produced the dolls for decades are struggling to stay in business, and this distinctly Russian tradition — may soon be lost. The first matryoshka is said to have been made here in the 1890s, after a local craftsman saw a set of Japanese stacking dolls in the likeness of a Buddhist deity and created a Russian version in the form of a matronly peasant woman. "It's difficult to compete with the Chinese and these plastic toys," complained Aleksander Kurennoy, director of the Aofis factory, which has been making matryoshki since 1947. (photo above Washington Post)

At Honeybee Toys, we truly love the art of handcrafted toys, and would be very disappointed to see such a beautiful tradition die. We always ensure that our Russian Nesting Dolls are Made in Russia using local craftspeople; not cheap copies from Chinese factories (where the workers are most likely not paid properly in the first place). We have lots more Babushka's in our stores than we do on our website, but I will try to upload some more over the next few weeks, they are such a lovely toy - I kept my own fondly for 40 years and have now passed it on to my own daughters.
In the meantime, I hope consumers will support Russian craftspeople by buying the "real deal".

Thursday, June 4, 2009

World Environment Day 5 June 2009

Today is World Environment Day. Commemorated yearly on 5 June, WED was formed by the United Nations to assist worldwide awareness of the environment.

The theme for WED 2009 is 'Your Planet Needs You-UNite to Combat Climate Change'. For activities around Australia celebrating WED click here.

To celebrate World Environment Day, I would like to share some of our favourite products for encouraging a love of our environment with our children.

Earth Game
A game of peace and co-operation! Players look after fictional nations, manage resources and solve the emerging problems. You have to be quick thinking and compassionate to deal with rapidly changing circumstances. What to do? Try Consultation, Trade Agreements, Economic Communities, training and deploying Peace Armies to cool out conflict, Planetary Meetings... For ages 10+. You can purchase this game on our website here.

Australian Menargerie
Australian Menagerie™ is one of our favourite games at our house!!! A fun and educational game that teaches you about Australia's wildlife and habitats. Created in Australia, Menagerie™ can be played at 3 levels starting with children aged 6. Purchase online here.

TreeBlocks - these blocks have been used for all sorts of imaginary play by our own two girls - from the dollhouse to the farmyard. They are made fromhand cut branches and encourage children to appreciate the forms and textures of natural timbers. Precision cut, they also support successful building and early math and metric system learning. We love them because they are made from reclaimed cherry wood, assisting European farmers to plant new trees when the old ones have stopped fruiting. Each piece is finished with flax oil. Click here for more info.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


"I knew when Autumn came,
Not by the crimson flame,
Of leaves that lapped the eaves
Or mist
In amethyst
And opal tinted weaves;
But becasue there were alley-taws
(Punctual as hips and haws)
At the counter at Mrs Shaw's"
By Barbara Euphan Todd from All Year Round

Autumn is my absoloutely favourite time of year. It's when our family most enjoy being outside, raking leaves, planting bulbs for next spring and just enjoying the pale autumn sunshine.

Somehow Autumn also calls forth from us our "homely" side - we feel like cooking pies, baking bread and getting our hands stuck into clay and other tactile creative pursuits.

Here are some wonderful books where we have found inspiration for celebrating Autumn in our lives:

The beautiful images in this Autumn board book by Gerda Muller are a wonderful way of stimulating family discussion and to introduce a young child to the seasons.

"It was autumn in the forest. Strong winds were shaking the trees and everyshere the red, gold and brown leaves were starting to fall..." Elsa Beskow's has to be one of our family's favourite authors - written and illustrated in the 1930's her stories have a whimsical charm that is known and loved the world over. Woody, Hazel and Little Pip tells the story of two little acorn children who get blown away by the autumn wind. My 11 year old daughter recently was given a felt fox and a little gnome for her birthday. This story has stayed with her so much that she called her little fox: Woody Hazel, and her gnome: Little Pip.

If you want to be inspired with ideas of how to spend real quality time with your children - you will thoroughly enjoy Autumn - nature activities for children. Drawing on ideas from Steiner (Waldorf) education you will find many simple and homely ways to enjoy and experience autumn together. Picking and cooking fruit, basket-making, building houses and shelters, looking after birds, drying fruit, dipping candles, autumn songs and stories.

Here's one simple idea to encourage your children to eat more fruit, especially as the weather starts to turn a little colder.

Baked apples
Use one large apple per person. Core the apples almost all the way through to make a cavity, leaving alittle of the apple at the bottom. Fill the cavity with nuts, honey and cinnamon, and top with a pat of butter. Bake in a buttered pan with a little water for about 2 hours at 325F/150c or until the apples are tender. They taste particularly delicious bakede on an open fire.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Welcome to our new project at Honeybee Toys - a place where we can share with you our passion about beautiful children's toys.

When we started our store, quite a few years ago now, we had a most romantic vision of a giant tree in the middle of the store where we could tell stories and create a magical space. Well, the romance outweighed the practicality of a giant tree in store, but you are welcome to come and spend some time, under this, our virtual story tree. Here we will share with you all the stories behind the making of our toys, imaginative play ideas, environmental issues for parents, reviews of our favourite books and games, art and craft ideas, inspiration for celebrations and birthdays and lots more about discovering ways to make childhood a wonderful, magical experience, while also caring for the health of our children and our world.

We hope you love our little tree banner - this exquisite image comes from a beautiful wall sticker we stock in our stores known as the Poem Tree - I'm sure you'll agree it has a real sense of magic about it!