About The Book ‘The Roots of Childhood’

Hello there, we’re Penny and Max and we’ve written a book for you called “The Roots of Childhood.” Let us explain a little about the book for you.

The “Roots of Childhood” documents our journey of nature-inspired play with our first child and all the magical activities we enjoyed with her at home. This book is a tool for learning and development, but it’s equally a tool for beautiful bonding moments with your child at home. These are eternal moments that you will cherish, as you watch their eyes glow and their imagination flourish.

We’re sure you can relate, there is nothing more fulfilling and wonderful than playing with your child and watching them evolve and grow before your eyes. Our activities are all designed to assist growth and development of your child in key areas such as: social, emotional, fine-motor skills, language and communication and problem-solving.


Firstly, this book comes from the perspective of a mum and dad parenting for the first time. We have been through all the joys, struggles and roller-coaster of emotions that comes with parenting.

Additionally, we’re coming from the perspective of a teacher (Max) and a designer (Penny) with 10-years professional experience in the field. With this book, our goal is to help you create a thriving learning space at your home, which can host engaging learning activities and spark moments  of endless inspiration and imagination. We will help you do this using natural resources and tools, which are kind to the environment.


How did the book come about?  Let us recount the background story a little for you.

In the midst of a worldwide lockdown in 2020, we took some action to ensure that our child was not deprived of nature. We designed activities at home, which incorporated nature and slowly, but very organically, our daughter grew to love and respect nature.

With natural, open-ended tools, she played, learned, role-played, problem-solved and delighted in sensory play. Home became a place where our daughter thrived. It wasn’t easy by any stretch, but we’ve attempted to make it easy for you by providing a step-by-step guide to 40 of our best nature-inspired play activities.

There are a variety of different activities in this book for you to enjoy, from the messy play style to building three-dimensional forests where animals can thrive! Themes or ‘unit studies’ are important in a child’s learning process, so we’ve given you some interesting themes to work with. Please use the book as you please and you can join at any page – we’ve designed the book so you can dip in for inspiration at any moment.


The timing of our debut book, “The Roots of Childhood” is profound as our earth is struggling cope with all the devastation caused by humanity – pollution on a mass scale, deforestation and of course, our carbon emissions.

We’ve included plenty of activities inside the book which help children learn about our environment through fun, sensory play activities.

The book itself has 10 parts and the activities were classified into 6 categories – Plants, Animals, Food, Art and Craft, Mindfulness, Mathematics.

We give you 40 hands-on activities to set up at home, with the possibility of hundreds of extension activities beyond that. The early years are a journey to be enjoyed and savoured as our children learn and soak up the world at a faster rate than they ever will again.


As for our focus on nature-inspired play, we’re passionate about this because we’re in the midst of an environmental crisis. Our relationship with nature is more important than ever before. As parents and educators, we all have a responsibility to raise the next generation of environmentally conscious adults.

With this book, we wanted to give you a tool to help you raise your child with nature and help them stay on track with their development, while they’re at home with you. No one can impact our children’ learning more than we can – and all the magic happens at home.

You will notice with everything about the book, as you read it, that nature and sustainability is always at the forefront of our minds, from the non-toxic ink to the natural hessian fabric we use for the packaging, we want to show you that we do practice what we preach and we truly adore nature.


You might notice that we modelled our activities on the Reggio Emilia philosophy, which is a child-led, open-ended approach that we’ve learned and Max has studied in depth.

The Reggio approach was our personal choice because it matched our view of children as strong capable learners with infinite potential. We connected with this philosophy and quite simply, we fell in love with the Reggio approach. We’ve shared our connection to Reggio in the book and given some tips how to set-up Reggio Emilia style learning ‘provocations’ at your home.

These provocations have been instrumental in our child’s development and we have seen with our own eyes the positive impact they have on children. They empower children, give them confidence and entice a child’s natural hunger for learning and exploration. We hope you are willing to try and see for yourself!

Indeed, central to the Reggio approach is designing an inviting, attractive learning space so we’ve given you lots of tips and advice in the book how to achieve this. With the words, we’ve provided clear, vivid images to help guide you step-by-step. The magic happens at home when a child has the space, the tools and the environment which communicates to them like a sweet musical melody.

We share the Reggio philosophy that a child’s learning and development is directly influenced by the stimuli surrounding them. With Penny’s experience in designs, we feel that this book can really help you achieve a learning space which can foster limitless growth and development.

By the way, our home is a humble apartment in the concrete jungle that is Bangkok, so if we can do it, you can also do it – no matter how big or small your space is at home.


You may have already realised, we’re nature lovers and we care very deeply about our environment. We would like to present this book as a useful tool for all parents and educators, who are environmentally conscious and support sustainable play. You may not support the Reggio Emilia philosophy specifically, but other similar pedagogies exist such as the Montessori approach.

Anyone who is looking for child-centred activities and inspiration can benefit from reading this book. Equally, these activities can be incorporated into a homeschooling curriculum as they support all the key areas of development.

The book can sit at home and be opened at any moment you need inspiration for your activities. Similarly, the book has a place in alternative schools who incorporate nature and sustainable play into their curriculum . Schools who place the environment as a fundamental in a child’s early years  education could certainly gain something from this book.



With the activities provided in this book, together with our design tips and vivid images provided, we believe that you can create a thriving learning environment at home.

Your home can be a place where you relax, eat, sleep and also revel in your child’s personal development. Where new ideas and inspirational “eureka” moments are achieved on a daily basis.

Our environment at home can empower our children and in turn, we can be empowered as we observe, document their progress, discover their preferences and learn who our child is inside out.

Finally, materials and learning tools at home can communicate with our children, provoke their limitless potential, boundless imagination and best of all, Mother Nature provides all that we need. We’ve shared with you everything we have learned on our journey so far and we hope it helps you on your journey too.


Gift Guide for a 3-Year-Old

Oh, what gifts to buy a three-year-old child???

This year we’ve been enjoying the thrilling journey of a three-year-old child whose thirst for exploration knows no bounds. During this year, she’s grown in confidence around us and other people, and learned how to express herself fully – across a wide spectrum of emotions! Her physical abilities have made spectacular leaps and she’s literally leaping all over the place now –  jumping from heights being her go-to-move! Ahhhhhhh!

When it comes to buying products for our child, Little Legend usually go for open-ended tools which inspire creativity, confidence and lots of engagement with language.

At this time of year, people exchange gifts with their loved ones and we would like to give our thoughts on some great gifts for a three-year-old child. We focus on gifts that inspire healthy development in the key areas like cognitive, social, emotional and physical.

Look for something meaningful and long-lasting this Christmas, which makes that little soul light up inside.


First, a quick word about development milestones. Always remember: every child is on their own journey! We believe that a child progresses and hits their milestones in their own, sweet time.  Here’s some typical milestones for the age, and our gift recommendations!


The language starts to flow. Children this age really enjoy using whatever language they’ve been absorbing at home/in school. Questions like what? where? and why? start to appear frequently, and they will start to grasp these concepts. “Where’s my dinosaurs gone?” is our daughter’s favourite.

  • Books
    At this time of year – anything about Christmas!

Our daughter is completely absorbed in the Christmas magic this year – for the first time. It’s a joy to see. We’re not a strictly religious family, but there’s no doubt the Christmas story captures a child’s imagination. It’s an incredible source of light and inspiration for our daughter, and she has responded well to everything Christmas represents – the beautiful symbolism, the characters, the stories, the vibes. We highly recommend these stories for bedtime bonding. @poonpoonchildrenbook @milankidsbook @kidsbook.home


  • Role playing Costumes/kit – doctor

Role playing! It’s at the heart of every child’s healthy development. This doctor’s kit has worked really well for our girl. She plays with it regularly and tends to her daddy’s football injuries when he comes home bruised. This is just one of many role play kits you can get, or you could even go for costumes. Either way, this is a fantastic age for your child to start getting into character!


  • Dinosaur blocks set

Dinosaurs…rrrrraaarrrrrrgh! They’re so fascinating. The pre-historic beasts have captured the heart of our daughter, so we bought her this set and it’s proved invaluable! She plays with these wooden blocks constantly and role plays with them, creating stories of family, bonding, love and of course, survival. With the role playing naturally comes lots of language practice and social development.


Little Legend focus a lot on natural, sensory tools because they’re amazing for a child’s cognitive development.

Some activities we play with our daughter. To see more, please visit @littlelegend.playset

Cognitive milestones at this age include understanding basic shapes, colours, numbers and even the alphabet. It’s important to remember that we can’t rush things or expect too much. Our little girl doesn’t particularly like maths activities so we have to be patient with that. It will come.

  • Art supplies – crayons, paints.

Pick different themes and enjoy your regular, open-ended painting sessions, watching your little ones express themselves with colours. This transparent easel has been a great purchase for us, and is super easy to wash.

  • Wooden birdhouse from JJ Market

What a beautiful little gem we found at JJ market. This wooden bird house is not only used for artistic purposes (our daughter loves to paint on it), but your child can assemble it from scratch, which also works those cognitive skills.

  • Collaborative games/puzzles – dinosaur puzzle

Puzzles give us opportunities to bond with our children at home, and in the process, they learn to problem solve and co-operate – It’s a win-win!

Since she turned three, our girl has really taken to puzzles – especially the dinosaur jigsaw puzzle. This puzzle has 15 different dinosaurs to build and is a real go-to activity. Naturally, the puzzle is not so challenging after a while, yet it still brings her great joy to complete it – and us too!

  • Magnet/ wooden blocks/ wooden boards (for math, science, art activities)

Building, problem solving, cognitive magic happening with these learning tools! Your child needs a space to work their magic on. Wooden boards are the perfect solution, the bigger, the better! It gives them a space to focus and organise their learning tools.


Peddling, jumping with two feet, skipping, balancing – all of these milestones can occur at this age. Children need the opportunities to explore these physical possibilities, so there are plenty of tools we can buy for them to get them moving around outside. How about these bubbles? Our daughter went crazy for them, leaping around trying to catch them all.


Oh the joys of watching our little ones use those little hands and fingers! Children at this age are gripping paint brushes, crayons and pens (mostly with the hand), and start to showcase their delicate little finger work building and balancing things. Exposure is the key with fine motor skills, so plenty of practice will have them confidently gripping, placing, building and balancing in no time.

  • Creative crafts / handmade/ fine motor skills tools

Life is about problem solving, finding solutions to problems and children develop this attribute from a very young age. Creative crafts are ideal for children at this age to explore their problem solving skills. Here’s a couple of our top recommendations for creative crafts which worked for us:


Children start to play with one another usually between the age of 3 and 4, as they leave the “parallel play” stage (playing near other children) and enter the cooperative phase, where they can play with their friends and develop meaningful relationships. Emotionally, children are still very much learning to deal with their own, complex emotions, but they begin to understand what emotions are at this stage – on a conceptual level. We can explain basic emotions to a three-year-old child and they will understand, especially with the aid of pictures/visuals.

We recommend getting your hands on some emotion flashcards, playdough and small loose parts!

For any activity about emotions, flashcards work really well in combination with play dough and loose parts, which you can use to make faces which represent emotions. The more diverse the materials, the more engaging the activity!

Little Legend Best Sellers for 3-4 years old

Finally, thank you so much for reading this article, and if you’re interested in playsets with diverse learning tools and natural, organic resources – here’s a few of our best sellers for three-year-old kids. When we design playsets, we leave no stone unturned with our attention to detail. All our products are designed to support healthy development in all the key areas.

Why Little Legend Choose Loose Parts

At Little Legend we are a big believer in the power of loose parts and how they assist development in the early years.

We have a two-year-old daughter and when she started enjoying the world of play, we were always surprised with her choice of toys.

Her favourites were not usually the toys that we bought for her! She would walk around the house carrying a stick, a wooden block, or a box. She would often sit in a straw basket used for carrying clothes. These days, she’s loves playing with a tiny miniature cork!


These are deemed “loose parts”, and this theory was invented in 1970 by Simon Nicholson, an architect, who said all children are born inventors:

“Children learn most readily and easily in a laboratory-type environment where they can experiment, enjoy and find out things for themselves.”

Nicholson believed all children, not only the gifted few, are creators and need to be surrounded by open-ended materials in order to flourish.

Natural, open-ended materials include dough, pieces of wood, silk, clay, stone, rubber – anything which can be used and manipulated in many ways. A container could become a castle, a spaceship, a tunnel or a person! A leaf found outside, under a tree, could be a dress, a boat, or a hat.

Kids have incredible imaginations and surprise us constantly with their creativity and ideas. Loose parts open the doors to these magical worlds of discovery for kids, which have no bounds.


Loose parts come in all sizes. They could be as big as a giant wheel, or as small as a button. The smaller loose parts, like we sometimes use in our playsets, must be used under strict supervision with toddlers as they are a choking hazard.




When our children grasp and pick-up small objects, they are developing their fine motor skills. These skills will be required throughout their childhood and the earlier they engage with small objects, the faster they develop these skills.

It really is a joy to see our little girl delicately placing objects with her finger and thumb, constructing her little worlds with loose parts. Kids learn so, so fast when they are empowered to create.



At home we have a tree stump, which our daughter loves to move around as she plays and sits down on it (and sometimes falls off). The larger loose parts help to develop a child’s gross motor skills, which are more about body movement, awareness, reactions, balance and strength. Rubber car truck tires are fantastic for this purpose. Children develop their gross motor skills interacting with these objects, climbing in and out of tires etc. Lifting them, rolling them.


We all want our kids to develop healthy, thriving brains. Loose parts engage a child’s critical thinking skills, problem solving abilities, abstract thinking and exploration of trial and error.

With open-ended materials, children must use their brain to come up with a function for the material. They learn to solve problems, they ask themselves: how can I bring this object into my imaginative world and make it useful?

This is what makes playdough so magical. With the freedom to shape and mould as they please, it truly brings the genius out in our children!

When kids start building, they also learn (through trial and error) how to create balanced, sturdy structures with loose parts. Little architects are born!


Whether you are a creative person, or not, we believe that all children are born creators. With loose parts, children are encouraged to think outside the box and find creative and divergent ways to make and create. Creativity leads to invention and the discovery of new worlds, new frontiers. Which leads us to the next point …

WATCH VIDEO : Playdough with Loose Parts


New discoveries lead to joy and satisfaction. The confidence grows the more a child is given the freedom to explore. The look on a child’s face when they are fully focused on a task, utilizing their brain, is beautiful to watch, as a parent. These moments are endless when you bring loose parts into their environment.

Loose parts excite children, and inspire them to delve deeper into their learning environment. The confidence they get from building a structure, or perhaps, making their own cakes to share (which our daughter loves) is what life is all about. Confidence will be needed as they come of age in this competitive world.

They are engaged, they are learning, they are having fun, they are in their element – because they are doing what they were born to do. Humans are born to shine.


Our children can thrive and develop rapidly in an environment rich with loose parts.
Smaller loose parts, which can go into mouths, should always be used under strict supervision with babies and toddlers.

Bigger loose parts (which are safe to handle) should be available for your children to interact with, always, if possible. The more they can interact with loose parts, the faster they will develop in all the key areas mentioned above.

Below is a table of ideas, for natural loose parts you can use at home.

Water (ice), Sticks, Shells, Straw (baskets), Wood (tree stumps, containers, sticks, blocks), Flowers, Pine cones, Pebbles/stones (all sizes), Grass/hay, Silk, (handkerchiefs, scarves), Wool, shells (many sizes!).

Read more about Loose Parts : Empowering Your Child With Loose Parts

Meaningful Gifts For Your Two-Year-Old Child

(Developmentally Appropriate Gift Guide)

Is your child in the TREMENDOUS twos?

They say “terrible twos”, but just think what magical changes are taking place with your child at this age.

Their language and communication are starting to flourish. They begin to build things and socialise with other children as the confidence hits new peaks. They are literally surprising you every day with their smarter, more developed brains and what they have learned the previous day. They may be testy, but they certainly are not terrible.

A two-year-old brain is reaching its all-time peak! Brains are around 80% of their adult size, and the connections being made in their brain are hundreds of thousands, per minute! How much they absorb is heavily on the environment they’re in, and what tools they have to play with!

So – what can we get our two-year-old children during the New Year to maximise this window of learning opportunity? Here’s a few ideas.


Loose parts have been a revelation for us at Little Legend. Loose parts can be any material or object, which has no specific purpose or direction. The child is the direction.

First, with our daughter, we noticed the level of  engagement when we brought in loose parts to her play time. Something as simple as a box, buttons, pieces of wood can spark brilliant ideas from your children that you would never have thought of. That’s because when there is no clear purpose, their brain, and imagination, will work hard to create a purpose.

Loose parts may seem dangerous to any mums or dads reading. Small things can quickly go into mouths.

The key to getting the most out of loose parts is supervising your child while they play with them. The benefits are truly worth it. Loose parts support problem solving, confidence building, and cognitive growth amongst countless other benefits.

The beauty of loose parts is, they can be found everywhere – nature provides them. If you want a Little Legend loose parts set, we have gathered a selection of our favourite loose parts to brighten up your household at Christmas.


“Children are effective communicators and through the creative arts, children learn to make meaning and freely express their thoughts, ideas and feelings. Drawing also acts as a powerful way for caregivers to understand how a child is feeling”. (Jola Sung)

A blank piece of paper is a canvas for expressing oneself, even at the age of two. Drawing starts to take more shape during the twos, so let’s get a variety of art supplies and have some paper available, so they can scribble whenever the mood takes them.

During this spell of childhood, we will see more controlled drawing movements as the fine motor skills improve rapidly. Children will start to name their drawings and produce lines, zig-zags and even circles.

Drawing alone, is a great sensory activity for toddlers as they experiment with different colours. A Little Legend, we believe in multi-sensory learning and we created a crayon made from pure beeswax, which has natural therapeutic aromas all from mother nature.

While they draw and admire their colourful art, they can smell each crayon and identify the relevant colours they are associated with.


Books, beautiful books. Our source of knowledge and inspiration. At the age of two, bedtime stories start getting really fun for parent and child.

That’s because our children start understanding emotions at this age, and fundamental concepts. They begin to appreciate characters and how they look, and crucially, how they feel.

The level of engagement is very high and everything you teach them during story time is being absorbed by their brain faster than we even realize.

Lots of beautiful diagrams which clearly convey the story is important, and we are the narrator! We are the educator. We can start to explain why things happen at this age as the concepts slowly start to sink in. For example: “Look at the giraffe. Why is the giraffe sad? He’s sad because he’s COLD” and so on.

At Little Legend, we love stories by Julia Donaldson, and also books about nature. A good nature book can help us describe the real beauty of life around us and how it all works! We would recommend the following books about nature/the environment.

  1. “Slow Down” by Rachel Williams
  2. “Lots” by Marc Martin
  3. “The Lost Words” Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris


Block play is magical in so many ways, and somewhere into the early twos, children start to really enjoy building epic structures!

Block play is an open-ended activity, which allows a child to express themselves through building. It’s a creative task which will fully engage them until they are satisfied, or their structure has collapsed too many times!

Children tend to thrive when they are following their imagination, and won’t need to look at a picture or follow a plan. In open-ended play, the whole point is that they are the directors, they are the creators. That is why a set of wooden blocks, ideally of different shapes and sizes, is so ideal for their development.

Block play requires fine and gross motor skills, and problem-solving skills. They will improve their mathematics, science, and self-esteem as they complete their monumental buildings – it will leave them feeling good. Mission accomplished.


Playdough is an absolute MUST BUY for two-year-old children.

Good quality dough, which is natural and free from chemicals, will be the best thing you ever bought your child. Why is playdough so good?

At Little Legend, it was always a winner for our daughter since the age of 1.5 years old, but when we did our first Sensory Playdough Workshop at Little Treehouse Nursery, we recently saw that ALL CHILDREN LOVE IT, and so do their parents. It’s a universal activity.

The reason is simple. Children at this stage learn through their senses. The feel, smell and sight of playdough is a beautiful experience, not to mention what they can create with it. Again, it’s an open ended activity, which brings out the best in our children and forces their brains to work in overdrive.

The possibilities, and the benefits of dough for their development is endless, but we must stress – get organic playdough to ensure that if something goes in their mouth (which it will at least once) it’s not harmful.

Little Legend provides organic, homemade playdough which is naturally scented and free from chemicals. We don’t just provide the playdough, we design nature-inspired playsets, which combine dough with loose parts to create magical playdough sessions, time after time, day after day.


A Product Made From Pure Passion

Little Legend was born out of a mother and father’s passion for the ultimate responsibility, which is parenthood.

Seeing the positive, uplifting, calming impact nature had upon our baby girl led to us exploring this topic more and more. The environment she was in, and sensory experiences, determined her mood and ability to learn.

Thus, we made it our mission to surround her with a nature-inspired environment, and play, as often as possible. Mother nature has never let us down.

We naturally gravitated towards organic, chemical-free products for our girl, and when we discovered naturally-scented, homemade playdough it was a revelation for us.

A eureka moment. Our child, and all children we subsequently introduced the dough to, entered a state of high engagement, creativity and flow with this multi-sensory experience. They were learning through playing with this amazing product, and their brains went into overdrive.

We studied this topic more, and research that has been done, and concluded that pre-school children have a phenomenal ability to absorb and learn while they play, and when their senses are engaged.

Science has taught us that there is a strong connection between our noses and our brain, indeed, smells and our emotions.

As a mummy, Penny (co-founder of Little Legend) loved exposing her little girl to a variety of natural smells, but she couldn’t understand why there was no naturally-scented crayons on the market in Thailand. If there can be naturally scented, organic playdough, then surely we can create a pure, naturally-scented crayon from beeswax?

Crayons made from beeswax are so unique and wonderful – there aren’t many creatures in nature more important than the bee. Any mummy who wants the purest ingredients for her child, will choose a pure beeswax crayon (we hope!).

Penny consulted with a good friend of hers, a cosmetics scientist, and scent-creator called K. Karn, who loved the idea and became the maker of our Sensory Crayon! All in her little laboratory in Wong Wian Yai.

K. Karn (Kanpoohdiary) – A Magical Collaboration

When we approached K. Karn about this idea, her excitement for this project was overwhelming. We discussed making scents from natural, therapeutic aromas such as lavender flower. We wanted our scents to be meaningful, and impactful, potentially even calming for children who were unsettled, or uplifting.

K. Karn took to this project with her heart and soul, and together we came up with five colours, which would be made from a natural process, to be matched with their relevant scents. Yellow – lemon. Green – eucalyptus. Red- rose. Orange – orange. Finally, purple – lavender.

K. Karn told us that she loved the idea of creating a crayon which could benefit visually impaired children too. This was another huge source of motivation for her to collaborate with us. Each scent comes from essential oils, and each oil has its own unique, therapeutic benefits.

Such a beautiful collaboration it has been.

Sensory Crayon – The Packaging

Every detail is crucial to us, at Little Legend. We are bringing, in our opinion, one of the purest and most natural crayons money can buy. Yet, we wanted to give more than just a crayon to draw with at home. For us, the benefits of the crayon needed to be meaningful and long-lasting.

We have included in the Sensory Crayon box five individual eco-bags for each crayon. Why? We really value our crayon and these eco-bags are important for five big reasons:

  1. Maintaining the natural aroma
  2. Not getting the smell mixed up with other crayons
  3. Zero waste, ethically-sourced packaging teaches kids to care for their environment
  4. Sorting and classifying is something children can learn very early in life, each time they pack away their crayon, they’re becoming little, organized legends!
  5. The eco-bags are TRAVEL FRIENDLY! No mess in mummy’s bag and can be carried anywhere, on any journey. The perfect travel companion.

A Final Word From Us …

The speed which our little kids learn is astronomical, trillions of new connections are being made in their brains during the early years. Sensory experiences matter. That’s how our brains receive information in our pre-school years.

We not only wanted the purest crayons for your kids’ little fingers to grip, but each smell will trigger something in their brain. They will learn faster, be more engaged and even more emotionally balanced.

So yes, it was a long process making these crayons. Those busy bees had lots of work to do! But you can always count on us for one thing: our products will always be nature inspired, as pure as can be, and they will be designed to bring out the best in your children.

Great things take time, especially when using the purest ingredients from mother nature.

We hope you enjoy this multi-sensory experience with your children, and thank you for following us – your support means everything to us.

Finally, Finally!

We have made a video of “The Making of the Sensory Crayon” and you can watch it right here. We hope you can see the love that has gone into this product and we would like to thank the amazing Star Studios for filming and editing it – they’re a very skilled and professional outfit.