Monday, December 7, 2009
The company that I'm about to tell you about is seriously amazing, and I'm not just saying that because I had the opportunity to review a toy from them, because once you visit their website, you'll see what I'm talking about. Oompa is a company that specializes in toys, gear, and furniture for children, and they pride themselves on their outstanding quality of their products. Oompa's motto is "NO BATTERIES. NO BLINKING LIGHTS. NO CARTOON-THEMED TOYS. PERIOD." When I read this, I was so impressed, and knew that I had found one of my new favorite companies!
*Cordoba Building Blocks from Haba*
Now, don't get me wrong, it's perfectly fine to have some of your child's toys be the kind that Oompa doesn't sell. Sometimes the toys with batteries, blinking lights, and cartoon characters can be fun for your child. But, with all the noises and lights and extras added to toys these days, I often wonder if our children are getting way too overstimulated, never being forced to use their imagination, because, frankly, the toys can pretty much erase the need for them to use their imagination. Oompa understands this, and they really fill the need for toys that encourage children to engage in active creative and imaginative play.
*Organic Veggies and Crate from Under The Nile*
Oompa was started in 2004 by Milanie Cleere, a mom who was disappointed in the toys that were readily available in the United States. To read more about her experiences with unnatural toys, click here, she's not only the creator of a great company, but she's also a very witty writer! After deciding that she had had enough with unnatural and synthetic toys, Milanie went in search of toys made from natural materials. However, her searchs always came up mostly empty, and after months of looking, she came to the conclusion that the types of toys she was looking for didn't really exist. But, after taking a trip to Europe, Milanie discovered an abundance of toys that fit the bill of what she was looking for.
Knowing that many parents in the United States probably felt the way she did about toys, she decided to found a company that could bring European-style toys and products to people across the pond in the US. Here's a quote from Milianie that really sums up Oompa as a whole:
"As a mother with relatives in a developing country, I believe toys should not only be natural and well-made, but created in humane and safe working conditions by adults and with absolutely no child-labor. I go to great lengths to ensure toys within the Oompa family do, indeed, come from safe environments. From extensive interviews with company representatives to annual onsite tours of manufacturing facilities, you can be assured that our toys come from companies who care about their employees."
*Blossom Sky (Ciel en Fleur) from Haba Toys*
Ok, so you know how I told you that once you learned more about Oompa you'd understand why I'm totally in love with this company, right? I bet you know what I'm talking about now, they are a great company aren't they!?
Oompa sent Izzy and I the Wooden Bead Abacus from Bajo, and it has been such a great learning tool for Izzy! This abacus features 100 wooden beads, with 50 of them naturally colored, and the other 50 in beautiful red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. The rows of different colors have really helped Izzy improve not only in counting, but also colors, patterns, and listening skills. A game we like to play is where I ask her to move a certain number of beads in a certain color, and she really enjoys counting to higher numbers. The beads really help to visually understand the concept of adding and subtracting, while being really fun for the child. The abacus comes all the way from Poland, and was made in a small village near the Carparthian mountains using wood from locally grown trees. How cool is that?
No matter what age group or type of toy you are looking for, you are sure to find something unique and imaginative at Oompa! You can find great ideas from Oompa's 2009 Holidays section by clicking here. Keep them in mind for all your educational toy needs this Christmas!
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