A couple of months back, on a rare sunny spring day in Western WA, I received my annual Timberdoodle catalog. Since I was walking alone (this day was rare in more ways than one, obviously), I casually flipped open the cover and started perusing the offerings. I'm a repeat Timberdoodle customer, and not just for homeschooling needs. Somehow, the folks at Timberdoodle and I just seem to think alike. The games they have line up with the interests of my children but aren't found on local store shelves. The building toys they carry are unique--and ones that I can't usually find elsewhere. And the homeschool stuff, well ... it's just cool stuff. Hands-on, often. And always, always fun.
Anyhow, I made it just a handful of pages into this particular catalog when I knew I had to call Benny. Which I did, of course.
"Have you gotten your Timberdoodle catalog yet?" I asked.
"I don't think so," was her answer. (Unlike me, Benny doesn't live and die by her mail delivery schedule. I can tell you that our mail arrives by 3 p.m. every day. I can tell you what size packages will end up on the porch, and which ones will fit in the box. And I can even tell you who made the delivery based on whether or not they folded items over one another to find them in or not.)
"You have to look at their complete preschool curriculum," I told her. "I'm not looking to buy a full preschool, but if I was, I'd so buy that."
I went on to list the science experiments, the puzzles, the cool smelly pencil. Later on, when Benny (finally!) checked her mail, she agreed. The Timberdoodle preschool curriculum is, well ... what you want in a preschool curriculum. Why? Because it's not a ton of workbooks and letter flashcards. It's real stuff. Fun stuff. Stuff that your child will beg you to play with, and not even know that he or she is learning.
If this tells you anything, Jo was recently with me at a conference where Timberdoodle had a booth. She lingered in the vending hall for a good portion of her free time, and kept coming back to Timberdoodle. What had caught my 13 year-old's attention to the point that she couldn't pull free?
The Rubbabu Bubble Ball.
It's a ball. A squishy, velvety, oddly-shaped ball made from all baby-safe materials. The directions say you shouldn't allow your baby to teethe on it, but that's just a precaution against little teeth nicking a bit off of the natural foam and swallowing it. It's a green toy.
It looks fun. It feels good in your hands. It's just ... tempting.
And Jo was hooked. She showed it to me no fewer than three times during the conference.
Jo: "I think we should get this ball."
Jo: "Oli would love this. And so would Seven. It's a really cool ball."
Me: "We've got balls. We've got about fifty balls. I'm not buying another ball."
So I didn't buy it. Instead, I bought a couple of other things (which I'll review here next week). I forgot about the ball.
But when it popped up as a review opportunity, I figured sure, why not? Try the ball.
Jo was right. We needed this ball.
That's a silly looking statement. "We needed this ball." I mean, people need air and water. And on a lower rung, people need books and music and creature comforts. Do they really need a ball?
Well, yes. If they're children, they do.
Balls teach little ones so very, very much. As adults, we tend to forget what amazing learning toys balls are. We have balls lying around, and we note our toddler's fascination with them, but we don't really zero in on the process that is taking place when a child rolls a ball, or catches a ball, watches a ball move away, or drops a ball, or feels the weight of a ball in his or her hand.
It's science, folks. Exploration, discovery, innovation. Science. In sphere form.
Babies need balls. Toddlers need balls. Kids need balls.
This ball is not only cool to look at, but it adds new layers to simple ball fun. Because of the funky, bubbly shape, it rolls and weaves in all directions when dropped or rolled. Oli, especially, is intrigued by this defying of normal motion. Seven, new to the whole "ball thing" is captivated by how she has to really work to get at it when it's dropped from her hands. She's also delighting in exploring its delicious little velvety coating. And the bumps? So, so pleasing to little hands.
By the way, this ball has seen action from all of my kids. Yeah ... the 13 year-old likes to squish it like a stress ball while she's reading. I guess her motives weren't entirely altruistic after all. :-)
This ball is part of Timberdoodle's baby curriculum, one of those complete sets I was discussing with Benny. In addition to a whole slew of age-appropriate materials (like a peanut ball!), this set comes with a planning folder. No, this isn't a Teacher's Manual for babies. The people at Timberdoodle have no interest in creating baby geniuses via set instructional hours and whatnot. Instead, they give parents information on the tools/toys that are in their set, as well as a multitude of ways to engage in them with their little one. I am no fan of "baby school." I would tell you if this set was "baby school." It's not. It's just good, quality stuff to play with alongside your baby. That's my heart for parenting little ones, and it's Timberdoodle's heart, too.
So go ahead. Try the ball. Seriously. You won't be disappointed.
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for review purposes. Refer to my general disclaimer for more information on my policies regarding reviews.