In this post I talk about the importance of inclusion & provide an honest review of The Field Toy.
Looking back over my life, my happiest times before becoming an adult were the summers myself, my brothers, sisters and cousins spent running through the fields that surrounded our home. I remember climbing fearlessly the trees in my grandmother’s apple orchard. We would each sit up high on branches eating bitter green and crimson apples, looking up through the branches at the sun shining down on us, and then watching tractors work in the fields far below us. I sometimes wish I could go back to those times and stay awhile longer watching the day turn into dusk, racing each other back through the fields, climbing over the gates and bursting in the back door to see our mother cooking at the range.
Country life stays with you forever
I can still hear the tiny thuds of the apples we had brought back with us as they fell into the sink. My mother would smile with a sigh and say, “I suppose ye want jam made”, off she would go to get her paring knife from the drawer beside the fridge. I remember those days often, reminding me of a time when I hadn’t a care in the world but trying to beat one of my brothers or sisters to be the first over the last gate to home.
Having children with additional needs.
What I didn’t know all those years ago when I would climb my grandmother’s apple trees, scraping my knees as I blindly climbed the branches, all the while looking up for the most sturdy branch to perch myself on, was that one day, I would have three little boys who would each be born with special needs. Life can be hard; I know that all too well, but it can be so happy too. I appreciate every kindness, every gesture of goodwill.
Sadly, my grandmother no longer walks this earth, her orchard has since been torn down, but what remains is a love for the country life that has never left me. In the years since I became an adult, I am the proud mother of 4 beautiful children, and I can finally say I am returning to the country after many years of living in villages and towns. By the time you read this, we will have begun our final journey back home to the country, moving our life in boxes and settling them where they always belonged; in a country cottage in the west of Ireland.
The Field Toy
It was with a thankful heart recently that I was contacted by the lovely Cuddy family from County Roscommon, who are the creators of the Irish handcrafted model toy “The Field”. They wanted to know if my little boys would like to have one of their “The Field” model toys. I was so touched that they thought of my boys, as often when children have additional needs, they are overlooked and without a second thought, are considered outside of what children (without additional needs) would like or love to play with.
My boys are 9, 8 and 2, they have additional needs, but they are children first and foremost. They want what all children want, to play, have fun, to love and be loved in return. I was so happy for them to be given such a beautiful model toy field by Padraic and his family as I know each of my little men have that same love of the country I have always had.
Jack falls asleep most nights holding his toy tractor, Conor has a little cow that he always likes to have in his backpack when he’s away from home and Max my youngest who is non-verbal like big brother Conor will always without fail sing the sheep sound “baa” when I sing “Old Mac Donald had a farm”.
The Field Toy Review
We have had so much fun playing with The Field since it arrived in our home. Each of my boys loved playing with their model Field in their own way. Conor (9) has Autism & an Intellectual Disability, he loves sensory play. He will play with the Field by rubbing his hand up and down the grass surface of it. He likes to line up his animals on it too.
Jack(6) is really into small world play right now. He will create whole stories using the Field as a stage and the using all his construction & farming vehicles he creates stories and imagined happenings. He will use his farm animals and sing songs.
Max is only (2) but loves to play with the Field by placing all the cows he has on to the grass field and moves them around the edges of it. It really helps to calm in the evening. If you have been following the blog; you will know that Max in particular has difficulty staying regulated and seated. The Field has really helped him to sit, calm and play.
As a parent trying to help her children with additional needs develop and progress, I use the Field toy regularly. It is a low tech, hand crafted traditional toy. It has been used here daily and still looks brand new! It is super sturdy and the grass is a rich vibrant green. I love that it is super easy to store.
I always think “fun” first when I play with the kids but also where possible I incorporate learning and therapy goals. Here are just some of the ways in which The Field toy helps my boys progress-
The Field toy in small world play helps children to develop their imaginative play skills. They can act out their experiences using small world play to better understand their lives. Jack loves to pretend that he and grandad Golden herd animals when he plays.
Building Language Skills:
As each of the boys have such a keen interest in animals and the outdoors, The Field is an essential part of my therapy kit. I have been using the Field to help encourage receptive and expressive language skills. Learning new words and practicing them while playing. We are working on possessive and positional language at the moment and I have the Field a great scaffold to help with this in particular. We are using it to practice recall & narration skills with Jack. I will tell Jack a short story involving his animals and I use the field as a backdrop for the story. Jack then has to retell the story or on other occasions tell me his own unique story.
It is a great addition to the boy’s toy shelves. They can take down the Field and use it during independent play time. It is unique in the sense it can be used alongside so many of the toys the boys already have!
I create various scenarios using Jack’s small world toys and the Field is always used as the backdrop. I create a problem within the activity and boys must figure out a way to solve the problem.
Robust & Sturdy! –
If you have children who love rough and tumble or sensory play then I can confirm that The Field toy is super sturdy and hard wearing! I have found Max standing on the field, Jack rubbing his feet on it *he loves to go around the house shoeless due to SPD. Conor regularly rubs his hands on the green grass. They love it!
It is most definitely Little Puddin approved and I highly recommend it to any parent – therapist – teacher, who wants to add a fun filled activity that encourages therapeutic progress, learning & development!
There is now a huge range of The Field products to choose from, you can find all the details you need HERE.
Now I’m off to gather up a herd of cattle that seem to have escaped from Jack’s toy shelves on to the kitchen floor!
Until next time,