Hilltown Families


Boredom is a problem. I mean technically we’re all supposed to be asleep & hibernating in these oppressive temperatures, right? We’re pushing against Mother Nature here, right? Not at all! Boredom can inspired kids into creative-free play! A Hula hoop & snow shovel are all that’s required to get Carrie’s children all fired up to release some creative-free play on the Western Mass winter landscape! While the great outdoors may sometimes be cold and not as accommodating, it is only a matter of changing the conversation and maybe getting extra creative. Don’t let winter be an obstacle. An obstacle course…hmmmmmm, now there’s a thought…

One wonders what inspired John Cleese and his collection of silly walks. Reading Carrie’s piece here, it seems he may have been influenced by animals! Carrie shares a fun and simple game for kids to play this month in “What to Play Play Ideas for Family & Community”….read on and let animals of all measure inspire creative-free play this holiday season!

We live in a society with a lot of stuff, most of which limits creative free play while having a negative impact on our environment and societies. This summer, rather than buying more stuff to encourage kids to play, make your own toys out of materials you have at hand!

This month in ‘What to Play? Play Ideas for Family & Community,’ Carries finds a book that inspires her to do just that! The best part about making toys with kids is the pure experimental nature of it. The first try may not work but with comes learning through problem solving…
and may even taking things in a completely new direction! It’s all wonderfully stimulating and drives creative free play through sustainable practices. Read Carrie’s post and get inspired to make your own!

What’s on your child’s holiday wish list? Some of the top commercial toys for 2013 include LEGO, Barbie, PlayStation and My Little Pony… but do your kids know the history behind these covet toys, or the history of toys before the commercialization of all things play? Take this opportunity to explore American history through the lens of toys and help your kids gain perspective on the toys they have on their wish list this year…

TRUCE Action Guides: Toys, Media & Children It’s Black Friday and many parents have holiday gift buying on their minds.  The discussion of holiday buying looms large in our community, with folks chatting about buying local, buying handmade, and buying non-commercial. Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment (TRUCE), a Massachusetts based group of educators concerned about how children’s toys and entertainment are affecting the play and behavior of kids, has a few guides… Read More

Local Artist Creates Toys That Encourage Creative Free Play We were recently approached by Janet Street, a Northampton artist and entrepreneur who has launched an eco-friendly, open play toy initiative, Easy Keepers, that she is campaigning to fund through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform that showcases creative projects by individuals or groups who are seeking funding… We were intrigued! I shared Janet’s video that outlines and highlights her toys with my 9yo daughter…. Read More

QUESTION AND ANSWERS Alison Webster asks, “Does anyone know where I could donate used, very good condition toys and they would go directly to kids/families?” Shoshona King recommends: Amherst Survival Center Jody Hadden recommends: Try your local womens shelter or homeless shelter. I know the Elizabeth Freeman Center (Great Barrington, MA) takes them – also any daycare center usually will. Alisa Blanchard recommends: Or the Redfield House in Pittsfield, MA. Heather Richardson… Read More

Breaking Gender Stereotypes with Toys This spring I became a Great Aunt … twice!  That’s twice the fun of discovering and giving gifts to new mothers that I would have loved to receive when my daughter was little.  Over the next several weeks we will be reviewing several products for families with little ones made by local mamapreneurs from Western Massachusetts.  Our reviews will showcase local toys, clothes and practical products made… Read More

TRUCE Guide to Toys The 9th Annual Toy Action Guide produced by TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment), a national organization of educators concerned about the impact of media and commercial culture on children, provides a list of toys and trends to avoid as well as toys of value. It is online free at http://www.truceteachers.org. TRUCE recommends avoiding toys that bring violence into rescue-related play, link non-nutritious food to play, lure little… Read More

Video PSA from HealthyStuff.org Lead is very dangerous to children and can be found in many new and used children’s products such as toys, backpacks and jewelry. On your cell phone TEXT the name of a questionable toy or product to 30644, or visit healthystuff.org

Third Annual Consumer Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Toys to be Released for 2009 Holiday Shopping Season by HealthyStuff.org – Despite public outrage and new consumer protections to restrict lead and phthalates in children’s products, the Ecology Center’s latest research of popular children’s toys and apparel still found lead, cadmium, mercury, bromine, chlorine (PVC), arsenic, and other harmful substances on store shelves. This year’s findings show that lead – which has been… Read More

CCFC 2009 TOADY Award On February 15, the Toy Industry Association will gather to present their TOTY (Toy Of The Year) Awards. But first, in honor of the industry that has led the way in commercializing childhood, CCFC will present its inaugural TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children) Award for the worst toy of the year. From thousands of toys that promote violence and/or precocious sexuality to children and push… Read More

Cecilia Leibovitz (Founder, CraftsburyKids.com) writes: Save Handmade Toys From the CPSIA: A Proposal From the handmadetoyalliance.org: In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production to China and other developing countries violated the public’s trust. They were selling toys with dangerously high lead content, toys with unsafe small parts, toys with improperly secured and easily swallowed small magnets, and toys made from chemicals that made kids sick. Almost every problem toy in… Read More

December Updates from Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood Montgomery County Pulls the Plug on BusRadio Last Thursday, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) terminated their relationship with BusRadio, the controversial company created to force children to listen to commercialized radio broadcasts on school buses around the country. Their decision came a day after CCFC sent a letter urging MCPS to end the use of BusRadio on their school buses. Montgomery County had been… Read More

Here’s a list of ideas on how to have an eco-friendly, sustainable holiday season with the family.

Listen to Podcast: TOYS IN THE ATTIC EPISODE Hilltown Family Variety Show WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM Northampton, MA July 17th, 2007 @ 7pm New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts ♦ Subscribe to Podcast Radio ♦ Facebook ♦ Twitter PLAYLIST Steve Weeks – “Hilltown Family Variety Show” Scribble Monster & His Pals – “Pick Up The Toys” [Best of Friends] Owen Duggan – “The Marvelous Toy” [An Elephant Never Forgets] David Weinstone – “I Like… Read More

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