Following our Disney Detox in January we’ve had a few ‘hallelujah moments’ recently: Our eldest choosing a blue cycle helmet over any of the pink / purple / flowery ones. (Admittedly it is decorated with a rainbow but her declaration of wanting a blue helmet was a jaw dropping moment). She’s wanted to spend every waking moment in the den getting mucky or on her bike. She’s asked for a Batman t-shirt. She wanted her hair cut into a short bob. And she’s snubbed any thought of princess or fairy fancy dress options for Red Nose Day in favour of either Paddington Bear (first choice) or a rabbit (second).
Referring back to my desire for our girls not to be entirely ‘Disneyfied’ or spend their whole childhood completely surrounded by pink princesses, sparkly fairies, Barbies and ponies, you’ll know why I’ve also been following the Let Toys be Toys Campaign with interest. And it’s also why I’ve written a very short story for you to share with your little ones. Print it out, make a book with it, talk about the toys they play with and the books they read, the toys and books they don’t choose and why, what would happen if the girl’s and boy’s toys got mixed up…. Most of all, I hope you enjoy it. Here it is!
The Tale of the Watching Bird
The old watching bird lived in the branches of a willow tree on the bank of a gently flowing stream, beside a primary school playground. The bird spent its days watching the comings and goings on the playground. From the morning hustle and bustle with Mums and Dads and buggies and book bags; to busy lunch breaks, happy, excited children zooming from here to there, playing with toys, whooping with joy to be out of the classroom. The years went by, the bird grew older, but it never grew tired of watching the children’s fun and games.
Until the day came that the watching bird realised something had changed. The children didn’t seem to play like they used to. On one side of the playground were girls playing with dolls, with princesses and flowers and fairies. On the other side were boys playing with trucks and dinosaurs, superheroes and pirates. The girls didn’t ever play with the boy’s toys. The boys didn’t ever play with the girl’s toys. They didn’t play together. It made the watching bird feel sad.
That night when all was quiet in the school grounds and the moon lit the night sky, the watching bird flapped noiselessly down onto the playground. Slowly and carefully it nudged and pushed, pecked and prodded, flapped and flew, until the girl’s toys and the boy’s toys were a big jumbled pile in the middle of the playground. And that’s where the watching bird left them.
The next morning, the children arrived at school and were horrified at what had happened! Their beloved toys were all mixed up! Slowly and carefully they began to sort them out. But as they did, their sorting and tidying became play. The girls helped the boys and the boys helped the girls. They found toys they’d never seen before – and they liked them! The girls dug moats for their fairy castles with the digger trucks. They sailed pirate ships in their moats and they raced cars up and down the playground. The boys gave the dinosaurs wands and tiaras, they played Dads with the dolls; they helped the girls choose superhero names, characters and costumes. Together they made sand and mud cupcakes and they had more fun than ever before.
The watching bird sat in the branches of the willow tree and felt happy. Everything was back to normal.
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