A garden oasis and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River

From The Shop−Jenah’s Notes: The Return to Real Toys

Jenah Barry, Retail Manager of The Shop at Wave Hill, brings to the position the sensibilities of artist and floral designer. 

One of the great pleasures of spring is outdoor play. It is so lovely to watch children run across our lawn giggling and playing hide and seek among the trees.

At the winter gift markets, a clear trend was the idea of “leaving technology at home.” We are living in an overly connected world, and a generation of children are being raised by digital devices. Because of this, there is a yearning for simpler, purer children’s play. As a buyer, I am starting to see an emphasis on a return to REAL toys that are educational, natural, encourage creative play and that are made to last.

I treasure Wave Hill as a special place for my daughter, and she has grown up in the gardens and at the Family Art Project. There is a real beauty in the joy of playing and learning in nature—with sticks, leaves, shadows and secret places. There is very little that children need besides love, space to play and their own imaginations.

Of course, in her imagination I have a fabulous work life in The Shop at Wave Hill, surrounded by flowers and toys. The staff at The Shop at Wave Hill include many mothers, and we are proud to sell toys with integrity. As a parent, I believe in buying quality toys for my child, and I have stocked The Shop with kids’ gifts that I love and trust. Some of my personal favorites:

Beautiful Books and Bright Lights!
There is nothing more valuable than stories to inspire. I love reading to my child under the shade of a tree by day, and snuggled together at bedtime. BooksOne of the products I was most excited to discover at the recent markets was a ‘Solarpuff’ lantern, a solar, flat-packable inflatable light cube that makes a perfect, sustainable nightlight and reading light for kids and campers.

Traditional wooden leaf and flower presses hold a sweet memory of my own childhood and pressing flowers and leaves with my mother and grandmother.

Soft Toys and More
Maileg’s
soft toys inspire the playful imagination of children of all ages with their sweet innocence―from an imaginative land of fairy tales, fun fabrics, charming designs, natural materials and delightful details. A favorite is their sweet little mouse family, asleep in their matchbox beds. In the company’s own words, “Maileg designs are amusing and playful with whimsical touches of old fashioned Scandinavian and French looks. Shop-kids-mouse-in-bedEvery detail that goes into each item is made with love and admiration. Hand knitted dresses and hand stitched eyes fill our toys with stories of their own and personalities that bring them to life. Of course, our toys do not talk but they will surely make you giggle with joy.”

Plan Toy’s wonderful line of sustainable toys includes musically accurate beginner instruments that encourage creative play – and I promise they sound good to adult ears too!Plan-Toy

Uncle Goose traditional wooden blocks are heirloom, classic wooden blocks designed to be passed down through generations. Tegu magnetic wooden blocks are a building system with limitless possibilities, and their travel kits are wonderful for on-the-go play.Tegu

Eeboo’s creative craft kits, art materials and fabulous puzzles have won multiple Oppenheim toy portfolio awards…In my mind, a child can never have too many art materials.

Gardening Tools and Watering Cans
Is there anything more fun than playing with water and soil? And it is so important to teach children how to grow and care for things!Watering-can

During vacation week, Tuesday April 26–Thursday April 28, all children’s gifts are 20% off! It’s a great opportunity to pick up wonderful toys that will inspire hours of learning and joyful play, at a great price.

But of course, some of my happiest days, as a child myself and now with my own daughter, have been spent with nothing but the luxury of time –discovering freshly opened blooms, rolling down hills, running across the lawns, looking for fairies and playing hide in seek in these beautiful gardens…

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