See, what I like about Early Years Resources’ little pincer play pack bundle is the fact that it contains exactly the kinda things my sisters and I played with when we were growing up: marbles on the manhole cover on the driveway that we shared with our Auntie next door (not that we were posh enough to have a car like); pick-up sticks that I was pretty rubbish at but Dad was really, really great at; the little toys that collapsed when you pushed the base up and stood erect again when you let go; and those lovely little spinning tops. But what’s better is that apart from the marbles (obviously) these are all made from wood – not 1970s plastic. The spinning tops in particular are pretty special as they are surprisingly weighty and I loved that the wheels on the little wooden animals and vehicles actually do turn around – I really hadn’t expected that at all. For me, the only things not completely dragging me back to my childhood days is the absence of elastic bands and jacks. Remember them? And sadly, I don’t have any of those either – or at least I didn’t until about 25 minutes ago when I found some on amazon and banged an order straight in. Which got me to remembering playing two-sy with tennis balls either freestyle or against a wall and – sometimes – stuffed down a pair of Mam’s tights I’d cut in half up through the crotch (not while she was wearing them). She didn’t mind if they were already laddered and in the bin but it was pushing it somewhat when a pair of American Tans were taken straight from the pretty polly packet. How I loved standing with my back against a wall and thrashing that side to side across my body as fast and as hard as I could. It. was. exhausting. So yeah, this pack really does hark back to my own early years.

And as is often the case, the kids go pr-etty quiet when they discover new fiddly bits in their loose parts areas. And it’s cool when you see them stop…and stare…and think…and then off they go to find something that makes playing with them that little bit more interesting. Like a cutlery caddy to thread the pick-up sticks through à la Kerplunk. How clever is that? And it would have been even more like Kerplunk if I’d been able to add marbles to the provision but couldn’t on this occasion as Manky Franky is in that quirky little phase of pushing small objects up his nostrils and then having them surgically removed soon after his parents notice that his nose hasn’t been discharging thick gloopy snot for a few days because, like, his nose is never not discharging that stuff. (He’s not called Manky Franky for nowt you know? Jeez, you could hang wallpaper with it). And those little geniuses (genii? genuises? anyone?) who went off to cut up squares of foil to wrap the little cars in and give to each other as presents? Aaaaaw. Oh, and a piece of guttering for a car ramp and my best metal tray to thrash out a drum solo with pick-up sticks. Exactly the same kinda things scavenged from the garden and the kitchen cupboards that I used to play with while messing about at my Mam’s feet as she cooked a full roast, Yorkshire puds and veggies from scratch and the same kinda things my own son played with too while I slopped out a vegetarian casserole I’d been over-cooking in my Eternal Beau slow cooker since 6.45am that he’s never gonna eat in a month of Sundays. The only thing the kids didn’t make was a den from my clothes horse and table cloth but then it was 2.15 by the time we got back from the woods and the little tinkers start going home at 2.30. Maybe tomorrow huh?

Seriously guys, I’m loving this movement back into days gone by. Authentic, honest, natural, open-ended, sustainable & well-made stuff for our little imaginators. (Maaaan, I so wish I’d coined that word myself). The only thing for me is that the pack seems a bit pricey at £29.95 (ex VAT) but then again, the quality is especially nice. Mind, the little blue bi-plane didn’t last 2 minutes but that was because my puppy took off with it before I had chance to put him in his crate soooooo yeah. Overall, the kids and I [and Loki] enjoyed the resources – in fact – I might have enjoyed them just a little bit more than they did.

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