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New Balance Sneakers for the entire family!

* This post is sponsored by Superbalist. It's the beginning of a new school year and the start of all kinds of extra-murals and sports for our crew... That means shoe shopping. More specifically, sneaker shopping! Growing feet need new trainers for netball, hockey,...

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How to diversify your kids toy collection

by | Oct 19, 2020 | Gift Guides, Just Kids, Play + Learn | 4 comments

2020 has shown that we all still have a lot of hard work ahead of us. Especially when it comes to encouraging a world where all kids feel valued, beautiful and important. Words can’t “fix” everything. In fact, our actions are far more important. So where can we start? With something fun… PLAY! All kids play and it’s through play that little ones learn and develop skills such as empathy, conflict resolution, open-mindedness and much more. As parents we need to learn how to diversify our kids toy collection, making mindful choices when it comes to the toys we select.

Reflecting and learning to appreciate the diversity we see in the world, within our own homes, will contribute to raising an antiracist generation and a better future for all.

5 Tips to keep in mind when considering “How to diversify your kids toy collection”

5 Ways To Diversify Your Kids Toy Collection

One of our favourite local toy brands that celebrate diversity…

(and actually inspired this post) is Land of Lark 

“We create, so that you can grow, learn and discover the wonder of living together.”

Focused on family life, this local female owned brand designs and manufactures the prettiest modern toys and homeware. Everything is made from either bonded leather or wood but with a proudly South African twits. Materials are sustainably-sourced and treated with organic non-toxic varnishes and paints making everything 100% safe.

Our favourite item has to be the South African play mat.

Modern Car Play Mats For Kids South Africa

Inspired by the many wonders of South Africa and it’s beautiful fauna and flora. This  hand- illustrated map has our girls playing non-stop as they “explore” the Kruger National Park, visit the penguins at Boulders Beach or go shopping in Sandton. They feel so much prouder of the country we live in and want to learn more as they play. This play mat has completely replaced our previous car-carpet and I absolutely love being a “fly on the wall” listening in to their conversations and imaginary play scenarios.

Car Play Mats Madde In South Africa 1

The mat is wipeable and very easy to clean with a hook for hanging BUT it’s way too pretty to ever put away.

* Other amazing local designs available include the Knysna Forest, African Map and the Highveld Meander. I’m thinking the girls could each do with their own destination…

Next it the Ndebele birch-ply play house.

How To Diversify Your Kids Toy Collection

Who says a princess can only live in a pink, plastic castle…? Ndebele architecture is unique to South Africa and absolutely breathtaking with its intricate walls and hand-painted patterns. The set of 6 wooden panels encourage open-ended play letting our girl’s imaginations run wild as they build homes, palaces, villages, animal enclosures and even little roadside kiosks in different formations. No instructions needed, simply let the creativity and problem-solving skills flow.

Wooden Toys Made In South Africa2Toy Ideas For Toddlers

Last item worth a mention is the Nguni Stacking Cows.

Nguni Stacking Cows Land Of Lark

Designed to promote various fine and gross motor skills, perception, problem-solving and language development. These Nguni cows are beautiful to look at and fun to play with. We however can’t help but appreciate the subtle way they also contribute to a diverse toy collection.

Toys For A 5 Year Old

Including animals in a post about diversity may seem strange BUT have you ever seen Nguni cattle represented anywhere else in toy stores? Usually we only find a more traditional selection for cows, sheep, pig and other livestock. The Nguni was however introduced by Bantu-speaking tribes as they migrated towards South Africa and after years of evolution this cattle breed has become part of the tapestry making up many South African’s heritage.

Gift Ideas For A 3 Year OldEco Friendly Wooden Toys South Africa

Land of Lark has motivated us to rethink the toys our girls play with and offer many more beautiful products.

Have a look for yourself by visiting their online store at

Shop Local Toys South Africa

Other toys that encourage diversity


Gift Guide1 Dolls That Promote Diversity

  1. A popular brand that prides themselves on inclusivity and celebrating children of the world is Our Generation Dolls. These dolls look like the boys and girls that play with them and soon become a best friend. Our girls really love this range and you can find our full review HERE. Available in most toy stores as well as Takealot.
  2. Meaning “We are beautiful” in Zulu, the Sibahle Collection (also a local South African company) hopes to teach children of all races to appreciate and embrace diversity. What started as 2 dolls have now grown into a range of shoes, clothes, books, backpacks and other merchandise too. Find everything online at
  3. LuvuThando Dolls is proudly South African designed and made. Created by a mom of two that grew tired of not seeing the beauty of woman of colour represented in our toy aisles. Available to buy from Takealot, Makro and Petit Love.
  4. Toys with Roots is another local brand with a purpose to create toys and goods which intentionally and beautifully celebrate African children. Think dolls, books, music, puppets and more. Find Toys with Roots ONLINE or at Hamleys and Toys R Us
  5. We still love Barbie too. Especially the Fashionistas! 176 dolls, 9 body types, 35 skin tones and 94 hairstyles. Now children all over the world get to see beauty across every race, body type and gender. Read more about the Fashionistas HERE. Barbie Fashionistas are available at all leading toy stores.

Gift Guide 2 Toys That Promote Inclusivity

  1. Happy Hape Families are so sweet and are currently available in Asian, Caucasian and African. Collect grandpa, grandma, mom, dad, sister, and brother to make up your own family. Available in most toy stores as well as Takealot.
  2. Baby dolls, soft dolls and larger fashion dolls all available form Toys with Roots.
  3. Dinkum Dolls from Olliella! With soft, posable arms and legs, a head that can move and a body that stands. These cuties even come with a little wardrobe of unisex rompers, bloomers, socks, shoes and diapers. Available in 6 different skin tones and hair colours. Sold locally by Make Believe Co.
  4. Imibongo Kamakhulu handmade dolls for gentle play. The perfect 1st doll for any baby girl. A doll of her own that represents and celebrates her unique beauty. And just to make these dolls even more special – Every single one is completely handmade with love and care by the mama behind this brand, Imibongo kaMakhulu,
  5. Djeco Doll House The Family of… are similar to the Happy Hape Families but are more lifelike in their appearance. Find them in select toy stores or on Takealot.
  6. Lottie Dolls are inspired by real children and celebrate childhood. Designed and made with the proportions of a nine-year-old child in mind Lottie represents kids of various races from all over the world. She also doesn’t wear makeup, jewellery or high heels. Focused on play and adventure Lottie has a male counterpart called Finn. Available to buy from Timeless Toys and Make Believe Co.
  7. Rainbow nation dolls celebrating diversity in beauty like never before from Sibahle Collection. Showing little girls that they are still beautiful no matter the world’s view of Albinism and vitiligo. Each of these dolls has a specific meaningful name, textured hair and even smell like vanilla.


Don’t underestimate the importance of representation in the puzzles our kids build and the boardgames they play.

Christmas Gift Guide 3 Toys That Encourage Diversity

  1. Peaceable Kingdom encourages cooperative play and inspires kindness while building self-esteem, encouraging inclusion and helping kids develop valuable life skills for the future. Available from Timeless Toys
  2. Also, be sure to look closely at puzzles. Djeco has some stunning observation puzzles for older kids, illustrating different cultures from around the world. These aren’t just fun to build but also act as fantastic conversation starters. Be sure to invest in a few. Available in select toy and stationery stores as well as Takealot.
  3. Ms. Monopoly has become a firm favourite in our homemaking even dad more aware of the inequalities woman still face to this day. Available at leading toy stores.
  4. Another great brand to remember is Orchard Toys. Focused on educational games and puzzles, Orchard Toys are always sure to represent more than one ethnic group in their products. Available from Timeless Toys

Arts & Crafts

Every child should have the freedom to paint, draw, colour and create an accurate image of themselves.

Educating Kids Through Play 4

  1. Look for colour-in books like “How Many Ways to Say Hello” by Refiloe Moahloli. Find your copy at most leading bookstores.
  2. Colour Me Kids has made it possible for every child to feel represented with their sets of 12 vegan, non-toxic skin colour crayons. We can’t help but feel proud of this local business. It was about time! Available to order online from most of the toy stores already mentioned or directly from the Colour Me website.
  3. And if your little one enjoys getting crafty, keep an eye out for Djeco crafts. Find the range in select toy and stationery stores as well as Takealot.

Other toys worth a mentionChristmas Gift Guide Toy That Promote Diversity

  1. The Girltivity Box is a unique subscription to remind girls about how amazing they are. Intended to inspire girls (but boys will enjoy and learn a lot from these too) between the ages of 3 and 12, celebrating fearless women who helped make the world better. Subscribe via the Girltivity website.
  2. More pretty products for little girls to enjoy from the Sibahle Collection.
  3. Hand puppets available from Toys with Roots.
  4. Broaden the imagination with more open-ended play options like these genderless wooden peg dolls from Thorne Wood Treasures. Also made in South Africa. Order online via their website.
  5. No Nasties may seem like an odd choice BUT I’ve actually been surprised to see how many kids makeup brands focus on the traditional, cover girl version of beauty. This range is almost race-free simply using fun colours and happy smiles to promote their products. Now pressure to look a certain way. Available from Make Believe Co.

Don’t forget to check those bookshelves too.

Ethni kids is a one-stop online shop that offers a huge collection of children’s books by local and international authors, featuring characters of colour in various South African languages!

Ethnikids Childrens Books That Encourage Diversity

We have a far way to go in changing the ways of the world but, as parents, we have the power to mould the minds of the future – ensuring a kinder generation.

Hopefully this post has motivated you to revisit your child’s toy collection as well and who knows… Santa will be here in no-time, maybe this year he’ll include a few of the toys mentioned above. Also please feel free to leave your own suggestions below, I would love to add to our list.

How To Diversify Your Kids Toy Collection

* For more toy review CLICK HERE

* For more gift guides CLICK HERE

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  1. Karen Powell

    Thank you for highlighting this brilliant brand – making people aware that toy diversity is more than just toys with different skin colours! Just love that they are locally made, relevant to our children and neutrals 🙂

    • Mari-Louise

      My pleasure Karen. THANK YOU so much for leaving us a comment. Featuring this brand was such an honour and we loved showcasing a few of our other favourites too. Be sure to check back in again for our next gift guide. THANK YOU so much for leaving us a comment.

  2. Avianne

    Thank you for this post. Where did you buy the wooden cars pictured with the Land of Lark play mat?



  1. Gift Guide: Wooden toys made in South Africa - […] much, we did an entire feature on their proudly South African playmats and open-ended wooden toys. CLICK HERE to…

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