Our new explorers room is on a plastic-free journey!

At Panda, we are on a journey to replace all the plastic toys in our Explorers Room with wooden or other authentic resources rather than their plastic imitations.  By re-cycling and re-using items from our home (such as our own children’s pram or Moses basket, old kitchen utensils, pots and pans, curtain rings and spice racks), by collecting donations from friends and family and buying from charity shops and jumble sales, we are slowly replacing all plastic toys with the real thing!

Encouraging real play

We believe that tactile, natural wooden toys conjure up more emotions, associations and memories than plastic ones. This is because plastic toys general look, smell and feel the same. They don’t distinguish themselves from each other.  They give little sense of reality, nor provide children with the opportunity to handle household items as they would be made in real life and to develop true skills.
Real-life, authentic materials such as wood, fabric and wicker will draw children into deeper levels of involvement, imagination, concentration and well-being. Research shows that children engage for longer periods of time and engage in more open-ended play, where the resources they have to hand are made to fit into the scenario they are creating at the time.
Children also identify with utensils from their own homes by making the connection with how they see their family use the same objects, and conversely random objects placed in a “treasure box” or lucky dip get adapted into whatever is needed at the time.
With authentic items, they can imitate and imagine real events and activities, which in turn develops critical thinking, risk-taking and deeper levels of learning and understanding.

Real-life dress up

The same applies with dressing up. The children love the superheroes and princesses of course, but they also like to dress up in the real clothes that mummy and daddy wear just as much; they love to fill that handbag with things they find in the room and walk around in the shoes like Mummy does – they role play going to work, going shopping, going out to lunch etc just as they see their parents doing.
Role playing real life around them allows children to process, make sense of situations and learn real life skills.
We are really happy with how our Explorers Room is coming together and we know the children are really enjoying it too. If you have any items you think we could use, such as old utensils, wooden toys, old handbags or purses etc, please let us know.