Dragon Boat Festival

Simple Dragon Boat
A simple dragon boat starring a Lanka Kade Dragon, wading through a play board made with Tiny Land Sea Wood Stains, backdrop is a Grimm’s Giant Rainbow.

Today is Dragon Boat Festival 龙舟节直译 (in China 端午节 or Duanwu Festival). For most this means it is time to make zongzi (粽子), but around the world it is better known for the dragon boat racing. I’m going to show you how to fold a quick boat that you can then craft into the more elaborate boat shown above.

What you’ll need:

1. An A4 piece of paper or card
2. Some glue, we recommend Tiny Land Natural Paper Glue
3. Some paint, we recommend Tiny Land Wonderpaints
4. Scissors and paintbrushes.

Part 1: The body of the Dragon Boat

Simple Dragon Boat
Creating a simple Dragon Boat
Dragon Boat 1
Start with a piece of A4
Dragon Boat 2
To make your A4 paper square, fold a triangle and then fold the remainder over. Serrate the edge to make it easy to tear off.
Dragon Boat 3
The remainder tears off
Dragon Boat 4
We are left with a square. This is a great trick as a lot of crafts need a square piece of paper!
Dragon Boat 5
Fold the paper in half
Dragon Boat 6
With the fold on the bottom, fold it in half again.
Dragon Boat 8
Open the fold and fold the bottom corners in.
Dragon Boat 10
Fold the first layer of the top corners in.
Dragon Boat 11
Flip the paper over.
Dragon Boat 12
Fold the top corners of the paper down.
Dragon Boat 14
Fold the layer of paper down.
Dragon Boat 15
Turn it over and fold the other down. At this point you can glue the paper if you wish to make it sturdier, but it’s not essential.
Dragon Boat 16
Et voila! A simple dragon boat that you can decorate.

Dragon Boat 18

Part 2: Decorating and Creating Oars

Dragon Boat 19
Remember that bit we tore off earlier? We can use it to make oars.
Dragon Boat 20
Roll the paper over, then cut a bit off. It isn’t important to keep them round as we will flatten to glue.
Dragon Boat 20
Roll the paper over, then cut a bit off. It isn’t important to keep them round as we will flatten to glue.
Dragon Boat 21
Spread glue along one edge and flatten to dry. Repeat to make 6 oars.
Dragon Boat 22
While we wait for the glue to dry, we can start decorating the boat. Dragon scales are traditional as there is usually a dragon head on the boat. But why not be more elaborate?!
Dragon Boat 23
After the glue is dry, we can round the oars again and make slits. With the leftover paper cut into 6 squares/rectangles, then these slot into the slits. You can glue to stabilise them.
Dragon Boat 24
To glue the oars to the boat, I’ve folded back the top and flattened. You can temporarily hold the oars to the dragon boat with a paper clip or peg while the glue dries.
Dragon Boat 25
And there you go, 6 oars on the dragon boat, 3 on each side. this will help the boat freestand.

 

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For the love of wood

 

An introduction to wooden toys (part 1)

Grimm’s, Grapat, Ostheimer, Black’s, Peepul, Lanka Kade, Sum Blox

The United Kingdom lost its roots with Wooden toy making during the plastic boom.  The General public was told plastic was better and more educational if a toy ‘did’ something.  This is changing a lot as more and more people look into wooden toys for both enviromental reasons and for educational theories such as the Waldorf/Steiner movement.  This sometimes means, as consumers, we don’t always know what to expect, especially with toys that are not only handmade but using plant based natural oils and finishes.

Wood is a natural and living substance. It can be easy to forget this when we are presented with packaged, shaped and brightly coloured toys. It is because of this that no two wooden toys will be identical, the wood’s  structure and fibres are different across species and even within the same tree. This means each item is truly unique whether handmade or machine made.

 

What’s this mark?

The most common wood markings are knots.  Thes are created as a tree with branches grows larger and the base of the branch becomes part of the tree. Knots come in all shapes and sizes and each knot tells the story of how that tree grew.

Some knots are purely aesthetic, they are just as solid as the surrounding timber, other knots can be loose and sometimes the wood can develop a hole where the knot has dried out. By the time timber is ready to shape into toys or furniture any changes in the wood have stabilised and knots that affect the structure of a product can be eliminated. Any that are left should be purely a visual reminder of the life of the tree that provided it.

Tiny knot in a Grimm’s rainbow

 

 

Of the countless markings that can be seen in wood, my personal favourite is spalting.  Spalted timber is in very high demand in furniture and musical instrument making due to the uniqueness, beauty and rarity of such markings.  Spalting is actually created by a fungus in the tree when it was living, but don’t worry it isn’t harmful.

Spalted Lime Wood

A second favourite is the mineral streak.  You guessed it, this is a line in the wood created as the tree absorbs and deposits minerals from the soil.  These lines run straight along the grain and can be dark and striking or very subtle. These are more common in lighter coloured woods especially in Birch, Maple and Lime.

Lanka Kade Rubberwood featuing mineral lines.

 

Even if the above are not present the grain of any wooden toy will vary.  The age of the tree and the section of the wood the toy was cut from will produce different grain patterns.  Each tree species has it’s own grain pattern and, like snowflakes or fingerprints, every pattern is unique.

center wood from lime

Hand made toys although all made of wood come in a variety of styles and variations.  To love or not to love?

Beech wood common markings
Ostheimer Squirel
Spalted Lime Wood
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International Dot Day – mark-making with your child

Mark-making is your child’s first step towards handwriting and drawing. It’s important for motor skills but also for creativity and imagination – with a pencil in their hand a child is no longer limited to the realms of reality, and anything is possible!

mark-making crayons

Mark-making can begin as soon as your child is able to sit up in a high-chair unaided. Early mark-making ideas include hand-prints using finger paints, encouraging your child to draw in yoghurt on their high-chair tray, and drawing in sand, in a sand pit or on the beach. Mark-making activities can be great sensory opportunities, as a child explores the squidginess of finger paints, the graininess of sand, the scratchiness of chalk on a pavement, the sweep of a paintbrush on an easel, the swoosh of a marker pen on a whiteboard… Try:

FIRST MARKS

  • Using fingerpaints tomake handprints
  • Drawing patterns in yoghurt in your baby’s high chair tray and encouraging them to copy

TODDLERS/PRESCHOOLERS

  • Dot painting, using fingerpaints to create a pattern or pictures – leaves on a tree are always beautiful, or dots on a dalmation, patterns on a butterfly’s wings… you draw the outline and let them fill in the colours
  • Once your toddler has a fist grip they can use crayons or even pens, pencil crayons or paintbrushes, under supervision, to create art.
  • Encourage them to paint both on flat surfaces like the table and upright surfaces – an easel is great, but if you don’t have one, tape paper onto a window or door (if your paints are non-washable tape newspaper underneath first).
  • Chalk pavement drawing is always a hit.
  • Paint splatters can be made by dipping scraps of fabric into paint and throwing them onto a piece of paper on the floor.
  • Screwed up waste-paper can be used for printing.
  • Carve shapes out of halved potatoes to make simple prints (we did this with our preschoolers to tie in with dinosaur and wild animal topics, which they loved!)
  • Blow art is very popular with children who are old enough to understand the importance of not sucking paint through the straw! You can drop poster paints onto paper and blow them outwards, or add watercolour paint to washing-up liquid in a shallow container, blow bubbles then print the image onto paper by laying it on top.

PRESCHOOLERS – INTRODUCING LETTERS

  • Fill a tray with rice or lentils and encourage your child to use a finger to draw letters.
  • Easy-grip pencils are both practical, encouraging them by making it easier to hold the pencil, and exciting, as they are pencils of their vey own.
  • Encourage them to label their art with their own name.
  • Copying simple words to describe their art is also a good way to introduce writing.

AUTUMN FRUIT MARK-MAKING

Autumn is a great time of year to look to nature for mark-making resources. On the simplest level, you can collect blackberries or elderberries, place them between two pieces of fabric or paper, and squash or even hammer them to make fruit splats.

You can also squash berries with a little water to make paint, which can be painted with brushes or fingers.

Food-based activities are great for both weaning children, as they also encouarage them to explore texture, and “mouthers” of any age, as they can mark-make without worry if any finds its way into their mouths!

RESOURCES

Yes Bebe stock a fabulous range of art resources including my favourites, Crayon Rocks!

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Hold Them Close

Hold Them Close – Big Feelings

Shockingly, there were 6,188 suicides in the UK in 2015. Men aged between 40-44 had the highest rate of suicides and female suicides were recorded as the highest in a decade in England. Male suicides are around 3 times higher than female in the UK (statistics from Samaritans 2017 report). Horrifyingly, 1 in 10 children have a clinically diagnosable mental health condition (Children’s Society, 2008).

Grapat Nins of the Forest big feelings

As a mum, the mental health and wellbeing of my little one, terrifies me. It feels like an invisible danger that could take hold of our little ones and steal them away, without us knowing. It’s a disease that we can’t see, we can only feel the impact that it has upon the ones we love. Mental health conditions do not discriminate, they can affect any one of us. Some people may be genetically predisposed or circumstances in life can impact on our mental health, but it is a personal struggle, unique to the individual. However, it doesn’t need to be a journey that someone travels alone – family, friends, health professionals and organisations can all be sources of support. It’s important we act now to help our children to recognise how they are feeling, learn coping mechanisms and know how to access support.

 

When teaching in the early years, before having my little one, three things were incredibly important to me to develop in my classroom. Firstly, a safe and secure environment where children felt comfortable to share their feelings and confident that they would be heard and listened to. Good modelling by adults within the setting to help children to understand emotions and develop strategies to overcome challenges. Secondly, the language to be able to express themselves – emotional literacy – to be able to recognise and say how they are feeling. Opportunity to role play situations and solutions, play feelings games, experiment with different expressions in a safe environment. Lastly, helping to develop strategies to be able to support children to help themselves when feelings get too big and to ensure children know who they can turn to for support when they feel overwhelmed.

big feelinsg playing with nins

Now a Mum to my almost two year old, my three important beliefs as a teacher are exactly what I do at home. A loving, sharing and caring environment where the language of emotions is used and encouraged and together we develop strategies to help boost our mental health and our ability to cope with challenges faced.

 

So, as parents, guardians, family and friends what can you do to help support the mental health of the children you love?

 

  • Let your little one know it is OK to show their emotions – yes even the boys! I do think that there is still a divide in what we think is socially acceptable for boys and girls when it comes to emotions – could that have any reflection in the suicide statistics?
  • Give your little one the language to express themselves. Use words to describe emotions and feelings for yourself, them and others.
  • Narrate to help them understand. I can see that you are angry because x took your toy. I can see you are upset…. etc. This emotions puzzle can help.Emotions Learning Puzzle big feelings
  • Calm spot – have a quiet spot where they can go to calm down. I don’t mean the ‘naughty spot’. I mean an area with cushions and blankets and soft toys that they can snuggle with and feel safe.
  • Relaxing toys – toys that support mindfulness. Toys that help role play such as dolls/ figures and houses.

    big feelings
    Hape All Seasons House – Fully Furnished
  • Hugs. Hugs. Then some more hugs! One way to have your baby/ little one close is to use a sling or carrier.lsing baby carrier feelings
  • Show your emotions to help them understand. Children know. Hiding emotions teaches them that they should hide theirs. Now I’m not saying if you are really angry that it’s appropriate to shout and throw things – I’m saying that your little one will know you are angry, so letting them know you’re angry and why (if appropriate) and what you’re going to do to help calm yourself down is teaching them how to cope with anger in future and that it’s OK to feel angry. I remember my Mum crying when our beloved, family cat died and telling me that she was upset because he was part of our family. I understood, I was upset and she taught me it was OK to show how I was feeling.
  • Certain situations can be helped by exploring them before hand through roleplay, stories and games such as the arrival of a new baby and a hospital visit for example.

My New Baby [NEW EXPERIENCES] book big feelings

Get further support from –

  • Samaritans – Call 116 123 – Email jo@samaritans.org
  • Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) for men – 0800 58 58 58 – they also have a webchat facility
  • Papyrus – for people under 35 – Call 0800 068 41 41 – Text 07786209697
  • Childline – for children and young people under 19 – Call 0800 1111 – the number doesn’t show up on your phone bill
  • The silver Line – for older people – Call 0800 4 70 80 90
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Non-plastic = ocean fantastic

  • Between 5m and 13m tonnes of plastic leaks into the oceans each year
  • By 2050 the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight
  • Those who eat seafood ingest up to 11,000 pieces of microplastic a year

(Source: The Ellen MacArthur Foundation)

We all know plastics are bad for the oceans, and we all know that refusing a plastic bag at the checkout or a straw at the bar can help us do our bit for marine life. But what if we want to do more? Here are some simple swaps to help you save even more plastic from going to landfill…

Plastic-free bathroom:

plastic-free, deodorant

Deodorant

Organic Confidence deodorant shuts down odor causing bacteria with baking soda and organic coconut oil. It is gentle, effective and made using USDA-certified organic ingredients. But most importanty, it comes in a recycleable paper tube. No more plastic containers going to landfill, breaking down into microplastics and leaching into the water table, and eventually polluting our oceans.

Bamboo toothbrushes 

Did you know that every plastic toothbrush you have ever used still exists somewhere? It’s a horrible thought! Bamboo toothbrushes like those by Hydrophil are far better for everyone. For the little ones, these biodegradable and compostable Jack N Jill toothbrushes are a great alternative. For plastic-free floss, give Georganics a try.

plastic-free periodCloth Sanitary Protection 

Approximately 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million sanitary towels are flushed down the toilet in the UK every single day. (Statistics from in the Journal of the Institution of Environmental Sciences.) When you consider that each pad can take 500 years to break down – and by “break down” we mean disintegrate into microplastics – and the average woman will use 11,000 in her lifetime, you get an insight into just how big a problem this is. It’s now easy to have a plastic-free period by opting for eco-friendly alternatives.

Plastic-free nursery:

Cloth nappies and wipes

baba + boo tree frog nappyIt is true that the laundering of cloth nappies has a carbon footprint. But it is now widely acknowledged that this is a drop in the ocean when compared to the environmental costs of producing and disposing of disposables. The production of disposables alone uses 3.5 times more energy, 8.3 times more non-renewable resources, and 90 times more renewable resources than real nappies. The average nappy takes between 250 and 500 years to degrade, all the while seeping microplastics, bacteria and harmful chemicals into our earth and oceans. As for wipes – which also contain plastic, by the way – in 2017 they came in at #7 in the top ten items found by beach-cleaners. This is a very real problem.

All seem like good reasons to invest in real nappy alternatives!

plastic-free badger balm

Plastic-free nappy changes

Badger Balm Chamomile and Calendula balm contains no  harsh chemicals, synthetics, fragrance, parabens, GMOs, or anything else you wouldn’t want on a baby! AND it comes in a tiny tin with a cardboard sleeve – no plastics in sight!

Plastic-free toybox:

More and more of us are switching to choose open-ended wooden toys, and for good reason – they are better for our children’s development, encouraging imaginative play and discovery through exploration, building resilience and critical-thinking. But there are also environmental considerations at play here. In North America, 90% of toys are plastic and the majority are simply not recyclable, so destined for landfill. There are exceptions to these: Green Toys are made from 100% recycled plastics with replacement parts readily available to ensure your already-recycled toys will last as long as possible.

Wooden toys are often more costly than plastic toys, but in my experience, they also last longer on two levels: 1) As heirloom pieces, that can be boxed up and kept for future generations without any fear that the plastics will be degrading when they are next put to play; and 2) As cross-age, even cross-generational pieces that can be played with by, for example, my 1-year-old, my 5-year-olds, my teenaged niece and myself, alike! While I found our plastic toys were quickly boxed up and put away as soon as they were “no longer age-appropriate”, our Grimms, Grapat and Raduga Grez are permanently out and consistently played with. So many brands  – Ocamora, Black’s Toys, Gluckscafer to name a few – produce amazing open-ended toys that won’t lose their play value as long as your children have imagination. Even my autistic spectrum son, who has struggled in the past with “imaginative” play loves the order of creating a mandala with grapat pieces, or building with the rainbow pieces, and now creates whole playscapes with boundless imagination. SHOP TOYS

Plastic-free everywhere!

BYOB: Reusable drink bottles

The average person in the UK will use 150 single use water bottles every year – that’s 13 billion each year to be chucked away. But how do they end up in our oceans? Well, they are quite light, so often get blown into streams and rivers, which naturally lead to the sea. Our landfills are overflowing, increasing the potential for lighter plastics to “escape” this way. Much of our plastic used to be shipped to China to be recycled in poorly-organised recycling plants, providing opportunity for yet more “lost” bottles, either on the open oceans or into the waterways at the far end, where it is now thought much of the plastic sent to be recycled was, in fact, incinerated or dumped.

That’s where reusable drinks bottles can really make a difference. There’s one for every pocket and one for every style, and if you are looking for an entirely plastic-free option – there’s one for you too!

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Toys to support your baby’s grasping skills

Today I want to share with you how your baby’s grasping skills develop the first year and what toys to choose to enhance those skills.

A new-born baby doesn’t really need toys yet. He will mostly sleep and feed. A warm place to rest, a sling to stay close and you!

The first 2 months, grasping is a reflex. Babies keep their hands into tight fist and grasp your finger automatically.

Toward 2 months of age, your baby may attempt to grasp. If you give a grasping toy with a thinner part directly to your baby, she might hold it tightly and release it only through a reflex.

 

Around 3 months, hand-eye coordination starts developing. Your child will enjoy gazing at baby mobiles. Within the Montessori community, we like to introduce babies to specific Mobiles that can be handmade easily. Check this article for more information .

Babies will also start to notice things and attempt to reach for them. It’s the time to provide an easy to grasp toy within reach. Help your child only if she is starting to be frustrated by her attempts. 

At 4 months, babies are able to grasp and hold large objects such as blocks, but they are still not able to grasp small things. A big beads grasper would be ideal.

From 4 to 8 months, it’s the mouthing period. Babies start picking up things and put them in their mouth. Any teething toy is great for this period.

They will also move objects between their hands so something like this, a double part grasping toy will encourage this skill.

Around 6 months of age, when they start to sit up by themselves, you can provide a treasure basket: a mixture of interesting toys and everyday objects. Start collecting!

From 9 to 12 months, babies will be able to pick up objects. The pincer grasp also develops by this age and your baby will start picking up small objects between her forefingers and thumb. The coordination is also increasing. You can now provide more intriguing baby toys such as the discovery balls

I hope you have found this article about babies interesting. To find more about what I offer to parents, read about me on my blog www.themontessorifamily.com

 

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Yes Bébé Guide to First Birthday Presents

First birthdays are a truly special event. Naturally you want to buy something that is going to inspire and entertain your little one and will be something to remember. Here is our non-exhaustive list to help you choose the perfect gift, whether it be for your own child or another special little person.

Hape Pound and Tap
Hape Pound and Tap

 

The Hape Pound and Tap is the most recommended toy for a first birthday. Great for motor skills, colour matching and musical fun.

 

 

 

Utukutu Engraved Rockerboard
Utukutu Engraved Rockerboard

 

A balance board is the ultimate open ended toy where imagination is the limit. it encourages gross motor skills, imaginative play and so much more. We stock various brands to suit every budget and whim.

 

 

Le Toy Van Petilou Sensory Shapes
Le Toy Van Petilou Sensory Shapes

 

The Petilou sensory shapes offer fun and learning for all the senses. There are different textures, sounds, shapes and colours.

 

Tegu 42 Piece Jungle
Tegu 42 Piece Jungle

Tegu offers building blocks with a magnetic twist. They can be clicked and clacked, built with, stuck to things. Great for little hands to grasp.

 

 

 

 

Haba Doll Clara
Haba Doll Clara

Every girl and boy needs their first dolly. The Haba dolls are soft, cuddly and a perfect size to carry round.

 

Grimms Wankel
Grimms Wankel

 

 

The wankel is our most popular stacker. Traditional Grimms rainbow colours and smooth edges  make it appealing and tactile for your developing baby.

 

 

Lanka Kade Countryside Animals
Lanka Kade Countryside Animals

Lanka Kade animals are lovely and chunky. Just right for grasping hands. They are really hard wearing and stand up to being chucked and banged.

 

Grimms 3 in a Boat
Grimms 3 in a Boat

 

 

These fun men satisfy the urge to take things out and put back in. They can have a rocking time!

 

 

Grimms Large Stepped Pyramid

 

This pyramid offers the ideal introduction to building blocks. With the Stepped Pyramid magical palaces and castles arise, beautiful cities, towers and landscapes… one can create everything with these bright coloured blocks!

 

LTV Woodland Tree Puzzle

 

Peg puzzles are the recommended as a starting point as they encourage the pincer grasp. It also helps with shape discrimination and problem solving. We have a variety of puzzles to choose from.

 

 

Hape Pop Up Teddy Shower Buddy
Hape Happy Buckets Set

 

Our Hape bath toys make bath time the best time of the day.

 

Grimms 7 Rainbow Friends in Cups
Grimms 7 Rainbow Friends in Cups

 

7 Rainbow friends in cups are an essential for any 1 year old. your child will enjoy putting the people in and out of the pots, and will be able to turn it into colour matching as they develop.

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Tegu – Brands at Yes Bébé

Tegu, the blocks that click!

Tegu was born with the vision to bring life to the classic building block whilst affecting social change in one of the poorest nations in the western hemisphere. After a trip to Honduras, the creators decided that Tegucigalpa (the capital), was the perfect place  to begin. They wanted to address poverty in a sustainable – by creating business opportunities.

Tegu have partnered with a local school in Honduras to help take the children that work in the dumps and bring them into the classroom. They won’t stop until every single child is in school.

The wood for Tegu comes from the abundance of a harwood called Huesito (spanish for “little bone”. These trees are harvested when mature and replaced with thousands of saplings. They hold strict criteria when sourcing wood so they don’t damage the forests.

Tegu pay their employees the living wage and place a lot of importance on long term career growth rather than simple task based job. When you buy Tegu, you are supporting hundreds of families in Honduras.

The designers at Tegu started with the humble block created around a 30mm magnetic core. All their blocks have come from this beginning and are designed to work together in a unique way. They studied the size and shape of children’s hands and how they played with the blocks when developing the final design. Below you can find an infographic to show just how tegu really is perfect for all ages.

tegu play

So if you want to join in, then you can find all our tegu HERE

And don’t forget to join us in our Facebook group for Tegu Tuesday’s where you will find building competitions, prizes and awesome deals!

 

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Le Toy Van – Brands at Yes Bébé

When I first think of Le Toy Van, I think of the egg shell blue, and the retro vibe they’ve got going on.

Le Toy Van was founded by the Le Van family here in the UK in 1995. Their family has over 150 years of experience in the toy industry, giving them them a wealth of knowledge when it comes to what kids love. They were inspired by the understanding that children have small hands but big imaginations, and all their products have stemmed from this.

All the materials for their toys are sourced sustainably in keeping with their passion to encourage a love for nature. They have very rigorous programmes in place to ensure this.

The beautiful toys are all hand finished in their workshops by talented craftsmen. Le Toy Van pride themselves on creating non-gender toys so that they encourage imagination and creativity in both boys and girls.

Petilou

2017 was an exciting year as they expanded the Petilou range, which translates as ‘little wolf’. These toys are designed for 12 months up and are painted with water based paints so they are safe for chewing and mouthing. The petilou range has been very popular with parents, nurseries and, most importantly, children. The star of the show is the sensory shape tray, which is perfect for the exploring nature of babies and toddlers. The range includes soft, but inviting colours and a lovely smooth texture. It is perfect for gifts too as most prices are under £20.

Classics

The classic range from Le Toy Van is just something I love.  There’s something for every child, from playing shopkeeper to repairing cars in the garage. Their dolls houses are something to be treasured, with 3 stories and even loft space! You can go on epic adventures with the Barbossa ship and pirate budkins Arrr! And who doesn’t need a spot of afternoon tea with this gorgeous tea set, this one is a favourite of my daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In future articles, I will go into more detail about the different ranges within Le Toy Van, so watch this space!

And in the meantime, view our collection here.

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