Hatchimals are some seriously f*cked up stuff!
Now I'm not going to dwell on this except to ask: Why do we need to create fake nature and fake nurturing opportunities for kids to feel connected and loving?
OK so we've been doing it for some time... there has been all kinds of weird stuff designed to entertain kids and sure, I'd rather kids used their brief attention spans on nurturing a toy than a puppy that would end up on the street, but still, are there really no opportunities for kids to really nurture something in this world?Couldn't they try a sibling or a tomato plant?
Anyway asides from the hugely important matter of the abyss in our ability to create wise and nature connected stimulus for our kids, there is the other deeply troubling aspect: the complete and utter wastefulness of these toys!
Apparently they are created by a company called the Spin Masters (no doubt they have spun up all kinds of traps for us consumers to fall in to).
Note I'm specifically not providing links to the Hatchimal brand or their creators as I really just don't want to! (You can Google them)
We had visited a toy shop and Mia (5 years old) saw them there, a large plastic packet with 3 small plastic eggs inside and the promise of untold satisfaction and glee for the 5 year old.... pah. Anyway Mia knows the system; we either take photos of or research any toy she likes and then we go home and try our best to make something similar rather than buy horrible plastic stuff.
Why do we do that?
Because such things are poisoning our planet all along from extraction of the ingredients from the earth, to the production which most often involves pollution, energy consumption, the worldwide transportation and sometimes exploitation of workers. Then there is the problem of the disposal of the packaging and often the silly toy also ends up in the trash too.
So this is what we did:
1. We bought clay, made some animal figures and shapes and then waited 3 or 4 days for them to dry.
2. We painted them.
3. We saved egg shells, washed and dried them.
4. While Mia was at school I assembled the eggs with the figures inside (I just used some small strips of masking tape so the eggs could be cracked open easily)
5. I painted the eggs pink.*
6. Mia and I coloured purple hearts on the eggs according to her instructions.
7. Over the course of nearly a week Mia opened a couple of eggs a day and to my surprise she was delighted with the whole thing from cracking the egg to seeing the mini figure inside, even though she had helped make them herself and they weren't really a surprise.
She didn't even mind that the soft clay breaks easily, but we have it in mind to source something stronger for our next projects.
I can't say for sure that Mia's urge to have a 'real" Hatchimal is abated, but I suspect it is. In the mean time we had loads of fun. If we had bought the toy that day I guess it would have been opened and done with within the day, only the trash would remain for hundreds of years. Our homemade adventure took us 20 days of planning, inception, implementation and conclusion. Mia will continue to play with the figures who will move in to her homemade veterinary clinic (made out of shoe boxes) and we will continue playing with the left over clay. Though there is a bit of waste involved* the most part of the residue is our happy experience of making stuff together!
The next project is to make some more figures and to construct 'non egg' eggshells for Mia's vegan friend. We love a challenge!
* I used artists acrylic paint on the egg shells so I can't put them in my compost heap. I am considering natural dyes and paints for my art work but for now I am living with the contradiction of being anti-plastic while using plastic based paints.