Deer are such beautiful animals that most children are naturally attracted to them. As we believe that beauty and awe matter, we decided to make a doe and a fawn to add to the stag from our woodland collection.
The other reason for making these toys is that most children love animal family groups. They need to explore family relationships in the safe context of play, and projecting important human figures onto animal toys is perceived as even safer than playing with human figures and quite liberating.
We believe that playing with toy animals can be immensely enriched by knowledge of the world as well as exposure to art, literature and folklore. We should not forget that creativity does not come from thin air, but it needs material out of which it can build its creations. The more children learn about the world, the more imaginative they can be, and the richer and longer their independent play.
Quite soon we will write a special article on play with toy animals, so keep checking our blog. Meanwhile, you can read earlier articles, dedicated to specific animals – bears, foxes, sheep, goats, pigs.
Today we would like to share with you some of our delightful deer-related findings.
Like other wild animals, deer can be used to introduce children to the change of seasons, to food chains, to the relationship between wildlife and humans, to the taxonomic relationships between species, etc. Children will include all these facts in their play scenarios, thus having much more fun while at the same time consolidating their newly acquired knowledge. If you want to save time and not do too much research in order to educate yourself first, you can always rely on Wikipedia and pick the parts children are most likely to be interested in – habitats, behavior, predators. Some people might be interested in watching documentaries, such as this one by PBS.
Of course, natural history is not the only way to celebrate deer. Folklore, art and literature might appeal more to some children. Here are some beautiful books (we share links to videos, in which they are being read, so that you can see the illustrations as well).
The Deer Watch by Pat Lowery Collin is a lyrical narrative about a boy and a father who go for a walk in search of deer. On their way they come upon other wonders of nature too.
The Deer in the Wood by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a story about a father who goes deer hunting to provide meat for their family, but then gives it up because he cannot shoot these beautiful noble creatures. His daughters are happy with his decision.
A world-known classic is Bambi, a Life in the Woods – the Felix Salten book – a story that many people know from the Disney animation. This is a tale of growing up, and it was later adapted into an illustrated book for younger children by Janet Schulman. You can check this video to see the illustrations and hear the story being read 1, 2. You can also read a review here.
Bambi inspired Soviet movie makers too, and they produced two beautiful full-length feature films – Bambi’s Childhood and Bambi’s Youth. Unfortunately, we could not find them in English.
However, we are happy to share our favourite magical story, based on the folklore of the Ural region, Silver Hoof, and you can watch the short video with English subtitles. Here is a summary of the story in English. We hope to be able to share with you a beautiful translation of the original story soon. Meanwhile, enjoy this beautiful sand art video based on the story.
Deer folklore and mythology are rich and can be found the world over. Here is a brief guide, but it is not exhaustive in any way. Here is a link to some Native American legends about deer.