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Monday, February 18, 2008

What to Do with a Playsilk?

Silkies are simple. In a world of bells and whistles and one-trick toys, they float on a whisper of possibility, inviting children to touch their softness and experiment with movement and colour, letting their minds and bodies take the lead (rather than the toy!). They are an open ended, child directed toy with enormous play value.

But what are they? Silk! People are often shocked to find that our daughter plays (daily!) with silk ~ and sits on it, throws it, pulls it, ties it and drags it on the ground. We tend to have an image of silk as both expensive and delicate, yet it is one of the strongest fibers and very affordable depending on production and processing. Add that it is a natural fiber with gorgeous body and hand (the feel of the fabric) that flows, shines and warms to the touch, and what's not to love?!

The use of silk for children's toys has a long history but the particular use as child directed plaything arises from the Waldorf school traditions. In this educational philosophy children are surrounded with simple toys made of natural materials. This allows the child's imagination to determine the course of play, rather than the toy (think of a battery operated toy that does 'something' and thereby dictates how the child will play with it~ if it rings it must be a phone, if it cries it must be a baby). This encourages the child to live in the world of wonder, to move, and play as their spirits lead them. Playsilks are a staple in the type of play.

Playsilks come in many shapes and sizes ~ long and skinny, giant canopies, tiny hankies, and most commonly in squares of 21.5 x 21.5" or 35 x 35". They may be dyed in solid colours, rainbows, mandalas, tie dye or other variations. Some folks use acid dyes for silks, others use natural plant based dyes and still others use simple food grade dyes. Every maker aims to make a non-toxic product that is safe for children and colourfast, as well.

Playsilks appeal to children from infancy on up! Not sure what to do with a silkie?

Give one to a child, and let them will show you. One of our favourite moments is when we give a playsilk to a child who has never played with one before. Their eyes
light up and the wheels start turning and within moments they are deep in play. Fabulous for play therapy and kids with disabilities, too.

At Beneath the Rowan Tree we have started a fun list of all the ways we have seen playsilks used and we'd like to hear from others and grow our list~ Not as a prescription for how to play, but so that we grown ups can marvel at the creativity of children at play and maybe catch a bit of the wonder as well! Add your ideas to the comments here, or through our Contact Page and we'll enter you in our February 28th draw for a free silkie of your choice of colour (35 x 35")! Be sure to leave your e-mail.


Georganne said...

Love, Love the colors!!! I cannot wait for SPRING!!!!!!
(ps, after I get my pics of my custom Con-Folds™, I'll post them!!)
~G :o)

pepperdove said...

I love playsilks, I need some for my son. He'll go nuts for them! Those are some amazing colors, especially int he nice summer sun... (it's sooo snowy & cold here).
Enter me in that contest, mama!

Annie said...

The colors on your silks are so vibrant!

Lori said...

Moving this post up for a curious mama!

Eri & Manny said...

I have played with silks myself too! I took some bellydance/meditation classes with a wonderful teacher who inspired us with silk as part of the way we used our bodies! Great for grownups too. I'm looking forward to my little man getting into some colorful silks as well (he's 6 mos, just perfect!)