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The SpeelOké Toy Library: toys for fun and development

Welcome to our first article in a series about toys and play. Is your little one bored with his or her mountain of toys, or are you looking to reduce that mountain without sacrificing variety and quality? Perhaps you are looking to try different types of toys before buying? The SpeelOké toy library in Delft allows your little one to BORROW toys. Read on as Erna Bekink, the chairwoman of the SpeelOké toy library describes what the library is all about.

By: Erna Bekink, SpeelOké toy library

SpeelOké is a toy library in Delft, founded by volunteers to promote playing with all sorts of toys so children can have fun and develop on several dimensions: moving, sensing, developing creativity and fantasy, building and constructing, puzzles, language and thinking games and so on…

Playing is learning

At our library, parents can borrow toys suitable for children from 0 to 12 years old for three weeks. Every three weeks you and your children can select other toys, which allows them to play and have fun with a regularly rotating selection of toys targeting different dimensions of their development.

If you have any questions, ask our volunteers. They are happy to recommend toys that are suitable for your child following the “toy circle,” which we describe briefly below. Our volunteers know what is in stock for each age group and which development phase those toys are suitable.

Toy circle

Description of suitable toys for different developmental areas for children. Source: speelotheken.nl

We make use of the “toy circle” (see figure to the right), a handy guide for choosing toys in all the different development areas: such as movement material, sensory material, fantasy material, etc.

Each category of toys (see the colors in the circle) makes a different contribution to the development of a child. Ask yourself with which category of toys your child plays with regularly, and then choose toys from another category. For example: if you want to stimulate your child’s creativity and fantasy, you can borrow dress-up clothes, Playmobil, a doctor’s set or a doll’s house. These kinds of toys stimulate the imagination of a child.

Subscription

The subscription fee is €10 per year for one family. The administration fee for new subscribers is €3,50.

With one subscription you can borrow three toys every three weeks. You also pay a small amount for every borrowed toy (€0,50, €1 or €1,50 – depending on the value of the toy).

  • Location
    SpeelOké is located at Van Kinschotstraat 21 in Delft.
  • Opening hours
    SpeelOké is open every Saturday morning from 10.00 till 12.00. We are closed during school holidays. Check our opening hours here.

Become a volunteer!

Volunteers spend 3 hours a month helping out at our toy library. Why don’t you join us?

If your children start borrowing toys at SpeelOké, there is a possibility for parents to volunteer–our foundation is run by enthusiastic volunteers who spend around 3 hours per month on a Saturday morning in the SpeelOké toy library.

As a volunteer, you can also take part in other activities such as the PR commission or the toy selection and purchasing commission.

Are you interested in meeting new people and being part of an enthusiastic, cheerful team of volunteers? Don’t hesitate to come by and take a look at our toy library or phone our chairwoman for more information: Erna Bekink at 06-242 06 378 – We would love to meet you!

Notes from the editors:

The editors want to thank Annemarie Laan-Oorthuizen of Bloei for the use of her photos in the article (see her article about the SpeelOké library in Dutch here). Bloei is an extensive online resource with guides and blogs in Dutch for parents of children aged 0-12 living in the Delft area. On Bloei you’ll also find an interactive calendar with a short description of fun kid-friendly activities. Looking for something offered in languages other than Dutch? Check this page regularly for classes, activities, services and relevant websites available in other languages.

Next up in this series, Delft Mama Zdenka Prochazkova talks about using music to help your young child’s development, and how to choose the right musical toys for your little one’s age level. In the meantime, play on!

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36 questions to love for couples

I recently read about the 36 questions to fall in love with anybody. This is meant for people that are dating and possibly looking to fall in love, but I really wanted to know what it was about and if it had any impact to a couple that has been together already for years.

When a chance presented itself, my husband and I went for a date night, but before we left the house, I downloaded an app called 36 to love. There are lots of apps with this name, but I just chose the first one on the list.

Around 10 in the evening we sat down on high bar stools and I told him I’d like to give this experiment a try. Luckily he was on board immediately, curious about the process.  We have been together for over 10 years by now (married for nearly seven years), we have children and we’re all in all a somewhat regular couple with life’s ups and downs.

The point of the game is to answer the question on the screen. Both participants take turns and once both are happy with each other’s answers and have done the after talk that evidently follows, the question will be swiped to the left to make room for the next one.

During the questions, the level of intimacy gradually builds up. You start with easy questions, such as if you’d like to be famous and why, but soon enough you’ll find yourself answering questions about the way you were raised, what things you are dreaming about and reliving your most embarrassing moments.

This experiment was supposed to take a few hours tops, but at 01:30 we were still sitting on a bench outside going through some of the questions. During the answers I had come to realize several points about the person I’ve been sharing the biggest things in my life with.

I thought at this point I had surely heard all of his stories, but these questions proved both of us wrong. When he talked about particular things in his childhood, I suddenly understood him better as a parent. I saw where he was coming from and why he thought and did things certain way. When we talked about our dreams and fears, there were surprises on both ends and when we praised each other and gave thanks to each other, we were both definitely happier and more in love with each other than before. But a fair warning: we also stirred some mud that we had nearly forgotten about. Because we know each other so well, we didn’t let the other get off the hook so easily with superficial answers.

Image: pixabay.com

In the end, swimming so deep was purifying, albeit we caught some mud on the way. Luckily, years together had taught us to let that dilute, until we were back to clear waters again.

The last task was to stare into each other’s eyes for four minutes. It made me realize how hard it is to concentrate for so long on such an intimate act. How little time did we actually take to do such small efforts that could bring us back to each other so much faster? When I looked at him so intently, I saw our children in his face, I saw his vulnerability, his love and I saw myself.

Although the questions are meant for people looking to fall in love, but from our experience I can also say they are excellent questions for couples who think they know each other, too. The process will definitely add an extra touch of intimacy to the relationship.

For many it might seem natural that relationships to remain close and loving over the years take a lot of work from both participants, but I’m sure there are also those who might have overlooked this fact, too. If you’re looking to reconnect with your partner, I can definitely recommend trying this out. If you’re in a fully committed, loving relationship, you should still try this one out.

If you walk out with anything from this article, let it be this: Great relationships aren’t just naturally great. It’s the continuous, genuine effort by both participants that makes them great.

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Year Video - show your adventures to your family on new year's eve!

Personalized video compilation of the year – step-by-step instructions

Can you believe it’s Christmas this weekend? Again. Right?

All the Christmas preparations are coming together in our house, and that reminds me: we’ve a digital goodie that became a new tradition. A couple of years back the New Year’s Eve was a bit different from ‘just’ dressing up, decorating the house, eating the ‘usual’ salty Hungarian cookies, playing board games and drinking champagne.

What set it apart was that we would also watch a “year video”, to see what happened to us that year (nota bene: only that made it to be filmed). Now it’s a tradition, no way out of it. 😉

The year video was a huge success. We were all remembering stories, little details, fun adventures. Some things didn’t make into a small video during the year,  so they came to light now. Suddenly we had long conversations bloom with parents, children, siblings alike.

Living far away from one’s family has the effect that your lives develop in (unexpectedly) different directions. The little things in our daily lives go unmentioned, however strong our connections are through Skype and such. The video really helped to spark that connection again.

I got another surprise: grandparents wanted to watch the video again, although for me it felt long. And they wanted to do so right away! Wow, talk about a great audience! 🙂

I say long, because we are not used to watching anything longer than three minutes on the web (actually, most people spend 1:30 minutes, and click away) – unless it’s super-interesting or hilarious. I compare that kind of watching with watching home videos, because of their long history being generally torture to watch. That is: too much zooming, panning, too little action and too much waiting for that aforementioned little action.

The point is, the year video was more than 15 minutes, and it was a success nevertheless. I was a bit nervous about it, but I got shushed, when I tried to apologize for the length of it.

No one minded the 15 minutes length, because it was personal for everyone in the room.

And for those who were not in the room, for the other side of the family far-far away it was also a delight. They were too very happy to see how the kids were growing and what happened to the house in the time they could not see it for themselves.

Although I could scare you off with an (otherwise wonderful and super thorough) article at Videomaker… just have yourself a two-three hour window in the next couple of nights (I know I’m asking a lot from you!), ie. let someone else cook/shop/bake for a change.

Follow these tips to create a “year video”

  1. Sit down in peace and quiet. Choose – even randomly if you have too much – video files from your mobile or camera to use.
  2. Put them next to each other chronologically in an editing software (like PowerDirector by Cyberlink).
  3. Trim away the “waiting for action” parts, and be ruthless about it: the finished video will be longer than you think!
  4. You can always get fancy with titles, but generally a simple “January”, “February”, etc. will be enough to mark the months, no need to spend too much time on that
  5. Make sure you have a fade-in and fade-out for your clips (audio too), so it’s not too jarring to watch, on the other hand, if you…
  6. …put FUN songs “under” the video, you can get away with it. It’ll glue the clips together, and the peppy sounds will make everyone happy. Make sure you are not sharing socially if it’s copyrighted material. There is a whole hell loose because of that, but it’s a rant for another day, really.
  7. Don’t sweat it. It’s far better to be READY than be PERFECT – a decade late. Use the 20-80 rule: 20% of your action will give you 80% of the results you seek. You can always spend weeks on polishing something, but let’s face it: who has the time?! Yes, professionals, they do – they also have a price tag (just go ahead and ask me already 😉 !)
  8. Use the “fun” parts the most, and make sure close your video with that – like a bloopers reel, that can really leave your audience “high”, wanting more.
  9. The best is if you choose clips you really loved filming, and you want to remember. However, the little gems that are one-offs and don’t fit anywhere: they shine in a good video compilation.

This list is of course not going into details, you know I can’t hold your hands through the process. For that, check that Videomaker article, it is great. Still, give it a shot, it’s really not that hard. And if you feel like it’s overwhelming, just start early next year – you can’t go wrong with it. You’ll always wish you would have done it, so give it a go. Let me know in the comments how is the process going, and in the end how did the audience cheer!

 

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Bike at the Oostpoort

Ride my bike

“I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike…” sang Queen years ago.  Statistics say this is what you have to do while living in Holland. There are more bikes in The Netherlands than people. Babies are transported on a bike as soon as they can sit. Cycling in a tight skirt and high heels to work is absolutely normal. Grandmothers do it. Politicians and businessmen do it. So you should do it too. Ride your bike!

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