“I like them so much!” Ostheimer review + discount code 

Frida’s most beloved toys are without any doubt her collection of wooden animal figures. These are played with all day, every day, with the rest of her toys mere accessories for her animals, acting as homes or caves or oceans or food, and I have watched as her imaginative play, storytelling skills, and vocabulary have flourished whilst she plays. With this in mind, I have been wanting to try out Ostheimer figures for a while now – their animal figures are natural, ethical, and absolutely stunning.

I was delighted, therefore, when One Hundred Toys offered us the chance to review some Ostheimer figures. The lovely Alexis made up a beautiful selection for Frida to play with, sending her the hunter, a wolf, a goose, a fox, a fawn, a rabbit with its ears up, and a running rabbit.

Ostheimer toys are all individually carved from native German hardwoods such as maple and ash, and then painted by hand, giving every figure a unique look and feel – no two are identical. These beautiful figures are then dipped in an all-natural walnut oil, giving them a soft finish. They feel wonderful, very tactile and pleasing for little hands.

In an age where machine-made, identical, disposable plastic toys seem to rule, I think that these toys are so special. Ostheimer toys will be especially appealing for parents inspired by a Montessori or Steiner approach, where there is a strong focus on providing a beautiful environment for our children, featuring natural materials where possible – in fact, one of the core Montessori principles for creating a prepared environment is beauty.

Being wooden, these toys won’t break or run out of batteries, so will last for years and can then be handed down to others, avoiding landfill. They also encourage children to use their imaginations and play creatively – there are so many uses for them! Even very young children can enjoy the sensory experience of holding a wooden figure (especially as these are safe to mouth as they don’t use harsh chemicals or dangerous paint) or enjoy a puppet show by their parent or caregiver. This is a lovely introductory article to puppet play the Steiner way and I have certainly seen Frida transfixed by the simple puppet shows at our parent child group. I also love this blog post on using animal figures in play.

When I gave Frida her new toys, she immediately started to play with them, incorporating other toys and launching into a complex story of animals being friends and running away from each other and sharing their homes. I took this as a very good sign! After a little while I asked her what she thought about the figures, and she replied “I like my new toys SO MUCH!”

She has been playing with them non-stop since they arrived, the hunter being at times a postman, a farmer, and a daddy (and also brilliantly fulfilling the role of hunter in Peter and the Wolf, Frida’s favourite piece of music). The rabbits in particular have rarely left her side, and we have had a lot of fun building different habitats and backdrops for the figures together.

If you’re just starting to think about buying some natural, open ended toys for your child, or perhaps you’re being asked by relatives what to buy for birthday or Christmas gifts, my recommendation would be to start with a few animal and human figures such as these Ostheimer ones (you could start with animals your child already knows and loves), a couple of playsilks, and some wooden blocks. Just these few toys would open up so many play opportunities and give room for young imaginations to take pride of place!

Ostheimer vs Holztiger 

The rest of Frida’s animal figures have all been Holztiger, so I was interested in seeing how they compared.

Below is a size-comparison with some Holztiger figures. The smaller ones are Ostheimer, which I actually prefer for little hands (and for storage purposes!); I’ve noticed Frida is really drawn to her smaller animals.

I think the style difference is quite visible too. The Ostheimer feel more natural to the touch – you can really feel the wood grain. Ostheimer figures are a bit more expensive that Holztiger (example the Holztiger wolf retails around £7 whilst the Ostheimer wolf is around £10) but if money were no object I would certainly have chosen to collect Ostheimer for Frida instead as I think there is something quite magical about them.

The two brands work together beautifully and going forward I will definitely be looking at buying more Ostheimer for Frida. On my wish-list for her is this beautiful rabbit hutch which I can see her playing with for hours on end, along with this magical wishing well (currently out of stock but I will be keeping a close eye on its return – something for Christmas I think). They are truly special toys which make wonderful gifts will take pride of place in any child’s home, and I really recommend them – as does Frida.

One Hundred Toys have kindly offered new customers 10% off their first order with the code: FRIDA100

They have so many other wonderful toys and craft items on their site; do have a look!

The Ostheimer figures were gifted to me from One Hundred Toys to review, but this review  is my own honest opinion (and Frida’s!). I only ever recommend things which we have tried and loved. 

I also love the One Hundred Toys blog which you can read here: https://www.onehundredtoys.com/blogs/news 

Birthday gifts, age two

Frida will be turning two tomorrow! It feels very strange. On the one hand, I can’t quite believe that I’ve been a mother for two whole years already. Two! It doesn’t feel very long ago at all that we first met Frida and instantly fell head-over-heels in love with her. On the other hand, she seems at times so much older than she is, so much so that it feels bizarre that she isn’t already two.

I have really enjoyed selecting gifts for Frida this year, choosing things she will (I hope) love and want to play with again and again. 

Frida’s biggest focus at the moment is on imaginative play. She plays for hours with her animals and people and Grimms toys, quietly narrating to herself as she plays. Following her lead, therefore, I’ve chosen toys for imaginative play over anything else. 

For her birthday we have bought her: 

  • Grimms Bauhaus mobile home (available here) – Frida loves setting up pretend homes for her figures and animals, so this was a natural choice to extend her play. It’s unbelievably lovely in real life. We love Grimms toys – the play possibilities are endless. 
  • Grimms dolls house crib and toilet (available here) – I thought these would complement the mobile home furniture well. Frida is very interested in toilets at the moment! Also pictured is a Grimms bed which my sister in law bought for her, I thought it made sense to present these together to her. 
  • Grimms doll and baby (available here) – Frida has some figures already, but they were very cheap and it shows. The quality of these is superb and I know she will love playing with them.
  • Pink playsilk (available here) – as a carpet / backdrop for the mobile home.
  • Home by Carson Ellis (available here) – a beautiful book which I am sure she will enjoy reading. 

  • Holztiger bunnies and frog (available here) – Frida especially enjoys rabbits at the moment following the Beatrix Potter books, so I thought she would enjoy a couple more. She doesn’t have a frog and I think she’ll like it. She has a lot of Holztiger animals already and they are played with multiple times a day. 
  • Wooden Gruffalo toy (available here) – this was the only gift Frida asked for, after seeing a drawing of a child in a book holding a toy Gruffalo. I’m not a big fan of “character” toys, but she repeatedly told me she would like one, and this figure is ethically made from natural materials.
  • Grimms wave stacker (available here) – Frida has a cave stacker which she uses a lot for imaginative play, and I thought this would be a nice addition for sea scenes.

I will share some photos of our celebrations over the coming days soon. For now, wish me luck as I try to compose myself ahead of tomorrow… 

Celebrating spring 

Ok, so I know that technically spring does not start for another twenty days, but I am impatient and I can’t wait that long! Our winter shelf has had me itching for change since the shoots and flowers of early spring started to appear, and our focus outside has shifted from frost and pinecones to buds and bulbs.

I wanted to share with you a few of the ways in which we will be celebrating spring and using it as inspiration for our activities.

Every season I update this shelf in Frida’s room. Because we have a (very active and inquisitive!) cat, we can’t set up a proper nature table, so this shelf is my compromise.

On Frida’s spring shelf I have put:

We have already spent the last few weeks looking at crocuses, daffodils, blossom, and the buds which are starting to appear on the trees. Although winter is still here (and at times it really feels like it!), spring proper is definitely not far away.

To celebrate spring over the next few weeks and months we will be:

  • Reading seasonal books together.  I’ve put away our winter books and swapped in a few spring ones. I’ll keep adding to our collection though so I would love your recommendations!
  • Going outside, playing outside, eating outside. Puddle jumping, mud squelching, water splashing. Enjoying the flowers that are starting to pop up, continuing our regular trips to the park to see what has sprung up since our last visit a few days ago, eagerly watching as new flowers peek through each time we visit. Going outside a lot is something we do all year round but in spring this is especially magical.
  • Talking of flowers, I’d quite like to do some flower-pressing with Frida, and I’m planning on setting up some simple flower arranging for her too as she’s expressed an interest in doing so.
  • Using these fantastic Usborne flower cards to expand Frida’s knowledge and vocabulary around flowers. I’ve only just given them to her and they are already proving to be a hit.
  • Doing some simple gardening. Planting a few bulbs and planting a few seeds together, so Frida can learn first-hand how plants grow. This book by Gerda Muller looks like it will be a wonderful companion.
  • Visiting city farms more regularly again. The city farms tend to be quieter over the winter (and the ones near us close their cafes which I find very offputting) but spring is a perfect time to visit farms. Hopefully Frida will see some chicks!
  • Dipping for frogspawn, and learning about the frog life cycle.
  • Making and giving May Day posies.
  • Celebrating Frida’s second birthday in April, and my 29th in May.
  • Painting eggs.
  • Easter baking. Buns, breads. Yum.
  • Visiting bluebell woods as a family, and generally planning lots of outdoor day trips to some of the beautiful nature reserves, woods, forests, and outdoor spaces we are lucky to live near.

Whilst Frida is still young I think we will be going by calendar seasons as it makes it a bit easier for her to remember them.

I’m sure I will add lots to this list over the coming weeks, and I’ve just ordered this brilliant looking book which I am certain will provide lots of inspiration for years to come! How are you planning on celebrating spring?

Outdoor playgroup: Playdough week

This morning we went to the weekly outdoor playgroup which I organise. It was a lovely mild soggy morning, and it was wonderful to see children ready to get their hands dirty. 

This week I brought along some natural scented playdough for the children to use (I just used my basic playdough recipe and added some spices). I noticed a lot of cooking going on – I brought Frida’s play pots and pans with me again, as well as some kitchen implements – as well as some great tonging (is that a word?), some poking with sticks, and lots of general smushing. Oh, and a jeep got stuck in it – a jeep which I accidentally called a truck. I love how young children will patiently correct you!

Playdough is so versatile and so easy and cheap to make, if you haven’t tried doing it for your little one then I recommend you give it a go! 

I’m really enjoying getting to know some of the lovely local families in our area already – it’s so important to feel part of a community, and although when we bought our house I was slightly uncertain about the slightly down-at-the-heel, unloved feel of the area (mainly thanks to a high street in dire need of some love and investment – though we do have a lovely independent coffee shop and a costa now), I’m genuinely growing to love the little patch of south London we call home. 

Frida impressed me on our walk home – a house on our street is having building work done, and there is a ladder outside. “Big orange ladder. Man’s big orange ladder. Man climb down. Not daddy’s ladder – daddy need buy it!” It’s when she says things like this that I get a flash of just how much she understands about the world. 

We both had a great time stamping in puddles on the way home too. I did get some funny looks, as if to say “why are you letting your child play with filthy puddles”, but honestly, what can be more fun than big filthy puddles when you’re 19 months old?