There’s a new train of thought chugging along in the toy industry at the moment and it’s one we at Tilda and Tom are very excited about! It was started by a Frenchman called Thierry Bourret and it’s called the “Slow Toy Movement”.
What is a slow toy?
Basically, a slow toy is a toy that is “made to last” and which encourages quiet, imaginative play. Slow toys tend not to be plastic, and definitely don’t require batteries. They do not beep, or talk or do things for you. Instead they make a child think and learn by themselves.
One of Tilda and Tom’s main missions is to seek out toys of high quality which will last years and years of active play. We require that all of our toys be of a standard capable of being passed on to siblings, cousins and friends. We want them to be ebay-able and we want them to pass the “attic” test of being handed down to the next generation (or two!).
Some of our favourite “slow” toys available at Tilda and Tom:
1 = Story Express Farm Train Set by Janod, £65.00. 2 = Farm Animal Stacking Game by Vilac, £15.00. 3 = Picnic Hamper Playset by Oskar & Ellen, £30.00. 4 = Boxed Set of Macaroons by Djeco, £8.00. 5 = King Drak Action Figure by Djeco, £6.00. 6 = Crocodile Funny Kit by Janod, £8.50. 7 = Butterfly Shape Sorter by Janod = £20.00. 8 = British Sports Car by Vilac, £30.00. 9 = Chunky Marine Puzzle by Janod, £13.50. 10 = Vanity Case by Djeco, £22.00
The Christmas Conundrum
We don’t see the benefit in amassing mountains of plastic and electronics on birthdays and Christmases. There’s a false economy with many parents’ consumer habits when it comes to spending on their children. Is it good sense to buy lots of cheap plastic toys which may not see in the New Year or should we invest in fewer, high-quality toys which will last instead?
Of course there’s a place for plastic and some modern big-brand toys promote imaginative play (think Playmobil) and are very well made. We aren’t about to compete with the likes of Lego or Barbie any time soon, but there’s still a huge place for traditional slow toys which goes beyond nostalgia. We hope parents will consider these wonderful made to last toys and see that their children might be missing out on something very special without them.
Which Toys are Educational?
I’ve always said since becoming a parent that all toys are educational. When you’re a toddler, a wooden spoon and a paper cup is educational. But in recent times we parents have been hoodwinked by the toy industry into thinking educational toys must teach us the National Curriculum and they must talk loudly, beep at us and require us to push buttons.
At Tilda and Tom we have a menu on our website clearly marked “learning toys” where parents can find puzzles and games which specifically aid literacy, numeracy and other subjects, but really all of our toys are educational. Our dolls are educational, our trains are educational and even our teddies are educational. All of these wonderful “slow” toys engage children into using their imagination, explore their creativity, develop emotionally and physically and learn in ways which go far and away beyond our ABCs and 123s.
Electronic toys, tablets and computer games have a place in our rapidly advancing technological world, but they speak at our children and do things for them. With a “slow” toy, children have to do all the work themselves, whether it be planning the circuit of a train track, putting on a puppet show or hosting a tea party for Teddy.
We live In a country where our schools are teaching our children to pass tests when they’re far too young and its easy to become obsessed with toys that seem to teach the important stuff. In my opinion we have lost track of what is important and we’ve lost track of the value of play.
Who has walked down the aisles of our major toy superstores and felt a bit depressed at the garish colours and the rows and rows of plastic? Who has sighed in desperation at the obstacle course of plastic tags, metal screws, elastic bands and knotted ties you have to navigate before you can even get one of these toys out of their boxes? If you have a daughter have you ever found a toy in a mass market toy shop which isn’t a shade of garish pink?
Tilda and Tom’s toys are hand-picked from around the globe and we place great importance on design. Some of our French toys in particular are created by artists and there’s a strong artistic emphasis in the production of our selected puzzles, games and toys. In a nutshell, in the box or out of the box, our toys are beautiful. I’m a sucker for gorgeous packaging and when put away after playing, most of our toys become ornamental. I guarantee you’ll smile when you walk into your children’s room or playroom and see them sitting on a shelf.Basile the dog pull-along by Vilac, £22.00 (age 12 months +)
The Grey Family Experiment
This Christmas there will be a little experiment in the Grey household. I’m going to ensure that at least 50% of my three children’s presents are “slow” toys and there will be fewer presents than Christmases past, which I admit were heavy contributors to our home’s carbon footprint in plastic tat alone.
Now there will still be technology for the seven year old, Playmobil for the four year old and princesses for the two year old (I’m not that brave), but amongst it all will be beautiful, made to last “slow” toys which I know will entertain them for longer and teach them more than the latest gadget.
Who would like to join us?
For more details on the Slow Toy Movement visit www.slowtoymovement.com