Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about play (thanks, Ultimate Block Party) — and the emotional, cognitive and social benefits of unstructured, self-directed play.

Take doll playing, for instance. Not only can playing with dolls develop a toddler’s fine and gross motor skills (think dressing dolls and pushing them around in pint-sized carriages), it can help develop language and social skills. How? Dolls encourage role playing. By assuming roles and interacting with people around them, toddlers begin to develop language and social skills such as sharing and helping.

Play is a wonderful thing. But it’s even more amazing when it intersects with beautiful design. Enter Blabla Kids. And their recently released Barnyard Collection (part of their classic Blablas line). The Barnyard collection includes Ulisse the blue horse, his sister Electra, Albert the donkey, and Claire and Georgia — two cute cows.

The genius of the Blabla doll collection is simplicity: it’s simply series of soft, hand-crocheted doll made from all natural fibers. A collection of toys that grow with your child. What begins as a cuddly, sensory object for your baby grows into a ‘buddy’ or role-playing inspiration for your preschooler.

Don’t let simplicity fool you. There’s a whole lotta design going on for each piece of this whimsical collection. From color choice to clothing, Blabla dolls will stimulate your child’s imagination and senses.

We received a Mini Albert the Donkey for the Bug to road-test. She immediately turned her bedroom into a ‘barn’ and found other animals for Albert to ‘meet.’ An immediate hit.

Where can you pick up a Blabla doll for the kiddo in your life? Our friends at Trohv carry them!