Down To Earth Toys

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Down To Earth Toys

Wooden Play Camera & Shaker Rattle

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Down to Earth Toys is a family run website that specializes in offering unique and timeless toys. Carrin, Todd and their young son operate their business out of Michigan. They seek to provide simple toys that provide hours of imaginative play while remaining conscientious of this worlds precious resources and the need for practices that are environmentally sustainable. They understand that quality outlives quantity and that less is often more. They also have a large portion of their site (over 90%) dedicated to toys that are made right here in United States.  We are happy to be able to support their efforts and their fantastic toys by sharing this review with you.

The Scoop

wooden-toy-camera My 1st Camera is a fun wooden camera that is made from reclaimed walnut, maple, cherry and birch woods. The camera is made by Firewood Toys. They get their name from the fact that their toys are made out of wood that would have gone to the wood stove. Firewood toys are made by hand, one at a time, and finished off with tung oil. Firewood’s motto is, “These aren’t toys, they are heirlooms!” The craftsmanship of this camera really speaks to this.

walnut-teetherThe shaker rattle is a wonderful, all natural, alternative to plastic teether toys. These unique rattles are handmade out of remnant woods from the Pacific Northwest. They are filled with metal pellets and have a delightful sound when shaken. They are hand sanded and finished with natural beeswax. Not only are they wonderful as rattles but they also make an excellent music shaker or worry stone.

The Crunchville Experience

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Given the nature of the products we were testing, I decided to let Camden be the one to open the package. The look on her face when she discovered what was in the box was priceless.

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She was so tickled to see a camera and pointed out to me that, “Look! Now I can take pictures for the blog.” LOL, what have I done? Here is her experimenting with her new camera but first she read the sweet card that Carrin sent us.

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When Mikayla came over she also loved the camera and had fun playing with it and when I was taking pictures of Garrett sleeping in his new hammock she grabbed their play camera and snapped some shots too. :)

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We also received a maple shaker rattle for Garrett to test. Camden found it to make an excellent music maker and also to practice her skills at pretending to be a baby. I enjoyed that it did not have a jarring obnoxious sound when shaken but instead it was very pleasant and subdued. Pictures of Garrett holding the rattle coming soon.

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Durability, Craftsmanship & Play Value

My 1st Camera made by Firewood Toys will certainly live up to its motto of being an heirloom. From the moment you see and touch it you know that this toy will last. You can feel the quality of the wood in your hands unlike some of the cheaper wooden toys that are now cropping up in rapid numbers in department store chains like Target and Walmart. Don’t be fooled by the wood toy bandwagon that began flourishing last year after the lead recalls began. The wood toys you see in stores like Target and Walmart are still mass produced, cheap knock off versions of other wooden toys and they are still made in China.

This toy is handmade and it shows. Not in the fact that it is irregular or homely looking but simply by the fact that no machine could produce such a solid feeling and quality finished product. There are no ragged edges and everything is smooth.

Another factor that reveals its origin is its simplicity. There are no mechanical clicks or bells and whistles with this camera. Instead simple features like a rotating lens with a view finder and a rotating film advance are the only moving parts of this wooden camera. At first my daughter had some reservations about liking the camera once she discoverd that it didn’t say fancy things like the obnoxious Disney Princess camera I got suckered into buying her in the checkout line at Walmart. However, both Camden and Mikayla have learned to appreciate its simplicity. It forces them to use their own imagination and creates a much more open ended play opportunity. It also doesn’t drive mom nuts after hearing the same obnoxious phrases over and over.

All though made by a different company, the shaker rattle possesses the same qualities of simplicity, durability and excellent craftsmanship. The design is so very simple but it is remarkably beautiful (much more so in person than in the pictures) and I was very surprised by how smooth it is. In fact, ironically enough, it almost feels “soft”. I was also a bit surprised by how much Camden loved to play with the rattle,  she loves to hold it and shake it. Garrett is just now getting to the point where he can grasp and hold it and I will have some pictures of him playing with it uploaded soon. For me, I also love the fact that this teether is not made out of plastic or some other synthetic material.

Other Products Offered by Down to Earth Toys

All of the toys shown below are available on Down to Earth’s website and they are all made in America.You Can click the word below each picture to view more about that specific toy or you can click on the categories below or you can simply go to downtoearthtoys.com.

Click to view more Natural Toys

Click to view more toys Made in the U.S.A.

dakotas-kitchen-willow-toysDakotas Kitchen

a-frame-barnA Frame Barn

basic-breakfastBasic Breakfast

hickory-dickory-clock-nursery-rhyme-wooden-clock-lg2Hickory Dickory Dock Clock

wooden-stacking-toy-made-in-usaRocky Color Cone

natural-abc-blocksNatural ABC Blocks

mental-aerobics-wooden-toy-made-in-usaMental Aerobics

schoolbusSchool Bus

blonde-blue-curlyWaldorf Doll

Wrapping It Up

-Suggestions, Observations & Wishes –

Because the shaker rattle is a bit wide my son chose not to hold it until he was nearly 4 months old. Babies will vary in their abilities and desires to hold objects.

-I’d love to see more pictures of some of the items on the website in use. I know this can be difficult but pictures can make such a big difference.

-Overall-

I love the store! Down to Earth Toys is the kind of store and products that I like to stand behind. I think it is important to support the “little guy” and to help the small artisan market thrive. I found Carrin’s customer service and follow-up to be excellent and their website was very easy to navigate. I also liked that they offer gift registries and a layaway program. I am very pleased with the toys we’ve had the opportunity to test and so are my kids. I would definitely recommend them. Now I am left drooling over all of the other toys on the site.

-The Basics-

Company Name: Down to Earth Toys

Product Name: My 1st Camera and Shaker Rattle

Price: My 1st Camera $22.95 and Shaker Rattle $16.95

Where to Buy: www.downtoearthtoys.com

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2 comments

  1. Kelly Clarksons · February 3, 2010

    greetings, i found

  2. Mommy Bee · December 8, 2008

    We have the little rocking stacking toy, and I love it!
    The only downside is that the toddler involved went through a throwing stage, and those little wooden discs are pretty hard if they hit you ;)

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