Category: Toys + Other Playthings

Diverse, interracial dollhouse families: Reader Q&A

After featuring Georgette’s post on 6 toymakers making diverse interracial dolls for kids, Facebook fan Melissa asked us if we know of any interracial dollhouse families. I love this question. So many of us want to bring more diversity into all our kids’ doll collections, whether you have children whose heritage is Asian, African or Latino and they want dolls that reflect themselves back to them; or you have Caucasian children, like my daughter, who has racial and ethnic diversity among her closest friends and family members, and loves surrounding herselves with dolls that reflect her world. That said, most dollhouse families you find...

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This gift for the classroom will keep on giving. Yes, more than a Starbucks card.

Very little in life is as terrifying as being handed a wad of cash by desperate parents asking you to find a group teacher gift that’s meaningful, memorable, and not a lifetime supply of Best Teacher Ever mugs. This year, you can forego the stack of Starbucks cards and present your kid’s classroom teacher with a gift that keeps on giving: a beautiful game that helps teach empathy and problem solving, all in one. Consider it the Venti Mocha Frappuccino of classroom gifts. Related: 6 DIY holiday gifts for teachers from the kids that will get an A+ The Empathy Toy was...

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17 of the best subscription gifts for kids: From babies to teens, we’ve found something for everyone.

It feels like the holidays are going to be here in a minute, and I’m not ready! If you’re like me and are still scrambling for a few great gifts that will make your kids think you’re pretty awesome, then you might want to look into one of the cool subscription gifts for kids we’ve been scouting out. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen so many companies with such good ideas for subscription boxes that range from developmental toys for babies to science kits for our bigger kids. And we know from experience that our kids are thrilled to receive actual, real packages...

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Hello, Dolly! Here are 6 of the coolest and most diverse dolls for holiday gifts this season.

As a mom to two beautiful biracial girls, I know just how difficult it can be to find diverse dolls for them to play with. When my firstborn was a baby, it was downright impossible. Today, there are so many dolls for girls and boys that capture the beauty of different skin colors, hair textures, and facial features. You just need to know where to look to find your child the perfect companion who looks “just like them.” Here are my picks for the coolest, most diverse dolls for this gift-giving season. If one of these dolls isn’t on your child’s wish list yet, it...

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Custom superhero action figures for kids with imagination

With Marvel and DC pretty much taking over entertainment for the past decade or so, plenty of kids are clamoring for superhero action figures for the holidays. But what I think is even cooler than Chris Evans in miniature (not that I’d complain if I had the full-size version, ahem) is a new company that lets you customize your own superhero action figure, right down to the sex, skin tone, name, and superpowers. Started by a husband-wife team, Hero Me Lab is a small company I discovered when they reached out to send me an action figure to check out and…wow. Color me super impressed. (Get...

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Bitsbox: The fantastic STEM gift idea that taught my 4 kids to code their own apps.

It’s no secret that parents love finding tech gifts for kids that we can justify as being both fun and educational, but the true test isn’t whether we think they’re cool — but rather, whether our own kids play with them. Over and over again. That’s why we we’re so thrilled to have partnered with our newest sponsor Bitsbox. (And you dedicated Spawned podcast listeners already know just how thrilled!) This clever subscription box gift masterfully and clearly teaches kids how to code their own apps that actually work on smartphones and tablets. Like my 9-year-old son’s Burping Obama app. (Not coming to an app store near you,...

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The best group card games to play with the whole family: Game night, bring it.

Now that Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror, it’s really starting to feel like Christmas to me. And as much as I love the shopping and the hot cocoa and the decorations, my favorite part is the parties. Instead of sending the kids to the playroom to watch a movie while the adults hang out this year, I’ve found some really fun group card games that the whole family can enjoy together. From competitive strategy games for the geeks in all of us, to light party games that are more about having fun than winning, these are our favorites. Of course,...

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Art With Edge coloring books for tweens and teens makes coloring in the lines cool again.

Move over grown ups, there’s a new coloring demographic in town. And, we’re not talking about kiddie books filled with hearts and teddy bears. Art With Edge — Crayola’s latest line of seven cool coloring books and two coloring kits — are filled with zombies, sugar skulls, graffiti, bold and fearless sayings, and quirky cartoons just begging to be filled in with color by the tweens and teens in your life. (They also have two superhero books, Justice League and Batman, which may be a great option for some kids, but to me, they didn’t seem to fit in with Crayola’s new and edgy line for our bigger kids.) My girls, ages 12...

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The subscription box for kids that ships pure imagination

In a world where a quick Google search can answer even the toughest question in just seconds, we love the delicious act of waiting for a surprise in the mail. But while most subscription boxes give you a pretty good idea of what to expect (makeup and books, hooray!), we found one very unique subscription box for kids ages 9 to 14 that remains just as magical and enigmatic as the Loch Ness Monster, right up until they open the box. Thanks to the geniuses at Wonder and Company, every few months, your child will receive a Kids’ Mystery Box delivered right to...

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The handmade, organic Frida Kahlo doll: Art history degree not required.

The first-ever gift I gave my daughter was a beautiful handmade doll I found on Etsy, and ever since then I’ve had a thing for gifting my kids one-of-a-kind dolls. Of course, she has her fair share (and then some) of American Girl everything, but when I find a keepsake like the handmade, organic Frida Kahlo dolls made by Mexican artists Maroma + Arte, I feel compelled add to her growing collection. She certainly doesn’t need another doll, but I really want her to have this one. And a little lesson in art history and female empowerment to go along with it won’t...

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We found them! 15 seriously awesome preschool birthday party gifts under $15

When you’ve got a little one, you probably know that means you have a whooooole lot of preschooler birthday party gifts to look for over the course of the year. One gift for each party for each kid in your child’s preschool class? Yeouch. That’s a whole lot of gifts. And it definitely adds up. While every family has a different birthday party gift budget, it can be tough finding ones that cost in the $15 range or less. So we did the work for you! We all put our heads together around here and came up with a great list of...

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Turn signal gloves, inflatable helmets and other cool bike safety gear for the whole family

This summer my family hit a new milestone on our bikes: my youngest learned to ride without training wheels, and my oldest is now big enough to be trusted to ride his bike a couple blocks to his friend’s house on his own. (Although I still sit next to the phone until that “got there” text comes through. Exhale.) But now that my kids are growing more independent on their bikes, I’m thinking of some gear — beyond the mandatory helmet — that can help them stay safe on the roads during the day and night. From innovative lighting...

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Handcrafted fairy doors that invite magical visitors from Hobbits to House Elves. No lost teeth necessary.

When I discovered the incredibly adorable, beautifully handcrafted fairy doors from Sugar Bush Fairies on Etsy, I instantly fell in love. Because I’m all about bringing a little magic and enchantment into my kids’ lives — but I’ll be honest, I’m kind of a failure when it comes to Pinteresty crafts. After filling up a bag with glitter and scrawling the words “Fairy Dust” across the front, I’m kind of at a loss. This is where these enchanting wooden fairy doors come in. They’re all handcrafted and handpainted by a husband and wife team, then adorned with bronze or silver knobs and accents. You’ll find Hobbit...

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The easiest, cutest bike bell? Ding ding ding! We found it.

We all know the transition from balance bike to training wheels to full-on bicycle takes a while (and can get a little wobbly). Add the required coordination to ring that out-of-my-way-new-rider-here bell and your kid may be in danger of an all-out collapse on the pavement. Which is no fun for anyone involved. So I’m pretty stoked to discover the Mirrycle Incredibell Jellibell Bicycle Bell (try saying that five times fast), which requires a mere touch to deliver its bell sound. That’s something even the most novice cyclists can handle while still balancing on two wheels. Related: 7 of the absolute coolest ride-on toys...

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Cleary Bikes: Like having a mountain, road, and BMX bike, all in one

With four kids who can ride their bikes to school on pavement and sidewalks, but also love to do a little off-roading as well, it’s been a little challenging trying to figure out what kind of bike to get them. Until I discovered Cleary Bikes, which are the perfect mix of mountain, road, and BMX. When the Cleary bike box arrived at our house to test out, I was pleased to discover that they come 99% assembled, which meant it didn’t take long until my kids were riding it around our neighborhood. And then fighting over who got to ride it around...

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A safer trampoline, because fewer trips to the ER is a good thing.

Our neighbors have a trampoline in their backyard, and I’m pretty sure it’s been there for the last 30 years. It has no net. No cover for the springs. It’s kind of a parent’s worst nightmare, but the kids beg to get on it every day. And who can blame them? Trampolines are so much fun. So, I’ve been searching for a safer option for my kids (and the neighbors’ kids) and stumbled upon Springfree Trampolines, and I have to say, I’m intrigued. The designer behind Springfree has the philosophy that the problems related to trampoline safety should be re-thought, redesigned,...

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FinFun: Mermaid tails for swimming that take summer fun to new heights. Or, depths.

The coolest thing you’ll encounter in the water this summer may be my daughter, who has transformed herself from a normal 13-year-old into a full-fledged mermaid. And, whoa, if you have a child who would love to swim like one of these creature of the sea, you’ll want to check this out this awesome product my kids had the chance to try out. FinFun Mermaid Tails are real swimmable tails for kids, teens, and adults (though I’m leaving this trend to the kids) that actually let you swim through the water like Ariel — or Ponyo, depending on your family’s animation preferences. Related: Blankie Tails turn...

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The 2016 best board games of the year from Spiel des Jahres. Family game night just got a whole lot cooler!

During the summer I usually let my kids stay up late, but we ditch the screens and play board games together instead. So, each year I keep my eye on the Spiel des Jahres award-winning board games to find the best new board games that are guaranteed to be interesting for the whole family. Sorry, Chutes and Ladders. This German-based award that literally means “game of the year” is basically the Pulitzer prize of board games. They consider games from all over the world, and we’re never disappointed with their choices. So, we wanted to share the winners that were announced today, because it just so happens we have loved...

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The Disney LEGO castle that has us all wishing upon a star.

We all know that there are some pretty amazing possibilities when it comes to LEGOs, from the skills they develop to the fantastical forms they can take. But the new LEGO Disney Castle is honestly pretty jaw-dropping. Disney fans, this is no glorified plastic silhouette of the castle. It’s incredibly detailed, with over 4,000 pieces (yep, you read that right) for your kid’s construction pleasure, along with a few of their favorite characters. But before you get lost in a Fantasia-like stupor looking at these pictures, know that the asking price is definitely a little steep ($349.99) for a...

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16 essential skills kids learn from LEGO, and fantastic resources to help get them going

Of all the toys that have passed through the hands of my three kids over the past dozen or so years, there is no question that LEGO bricks have been the most enduring and versatile. From their first little plastic bucket of mixed bricks, to those 1000+ piece architectural kits that require hours of concentration, LEGO remains a favorite toy — for all of us — even up against the siren song of video games. But even more than just being fun, I love the important skills that LEGOs can teach. I’ve seen so many of them firsthand as a...

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The most adorable cardboard playhouses for animal-loving kids.

If I had a dime for every time I walked into what was once a clean den or bedroom to discover it’s been colonized by tiny pillow forts and sheet palaces, well, then I could buy one of these awesome, animal-shaped HULKI playhouses instead. After a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, they are now ready for preorder and I imagine a lot of kids — and parents — will be thrilled. Related: 15 of the coolest playhouses for kids, from DIY to major splurges  Dutch parents Jasper Janssen and Brigit Span created their whimsical playhouses as an alternative to large plastic ones that tend...

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The coolest bike helmets for kids. As in, ones they’ll actually want to wear.

Now that summer is here, our kids are looking for chances to bike, scoot, and skate to the park or pool with us. Yay for extra activity to wear them out, but we can’t help but think about their safety too. And we know it starts with a good helmet. The best helmet in the world won’t do any good, though, if your kid doesn’t want to wear it. To help you out, I’ve spent hours searching our favorite shops (so you don’t have to) to find the very coolest bike helmets for kids. As in, ones they’ll actually want to wear. Our kids...

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The coolest pool floats, from hot lips to flying rainbow unicorns

When I saw the FUNBOY pool floats my pool envy grew three sizes, because, a flamingo? Flaming lips? A rainbow unicorn? I need to have these in my life right now. And not just because they’re freaking cool. They actually give back in an amazing way too. These fancy floats, or “luxury floats” as they’re called (what?), turn out to be celeb favorites, if you tend to purchase your summer toys based on such things. Still, we can see why. They’re all perfect for Insta photo opps, from a golden swan to a giant flamingo, to a hashtag — which we suggest not...

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Shark Week is coming! Get ready with our 10 favorite shark picks for kids

Though the Fourth of July may be the number one holiday of the summer, Shark Week comes in a close second. It’s pretty popular among our readership because our kids get a good excuse to watch an entire week’s worth of programming about our favorite toothy fish. And, for that reason, it’s become somewhat of an annual tradition to round up our favorite shark picks for kids. If your kids are big fans of sharks too, get ready to tune into the Discovery Channel starting this Sunday, and check out our top 10 shark picks we’ve hooked just for you. CMP is an rstyle affiliate You’ll...

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The clever Bring Your Own Book game is our new favorite for family game night.

Now that my kids are old enough to play “real” games — you know, the ones where I don’t have to let them win — I love finding new clever and fun options for when we all gather around the table to play. So I was really excited to learn about Bring Your Own Book, a truly unique activity for our family game night. Created first by Matthew Moore and Luke Nalker, who launched it successfully via Kickstarter, it has been newly released by Gamewright, one of our favorite game companies, for people ages 12+. Since each game only lasts about 20 minutes, it’s perfect for families who might...

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The best friend blankie your child is sure to love.

I have a soft spot for twee animal products in general, but when I received Lewis, the snuggly, adorable travel blanket with the sweet raccoon face, I found myself in a blissful, childlike state, wanting to run outside and climb the nearest tree. The Nomad Travel Blankets from EllieFunDay go beyond adorable though, with a mission to encourage kids to venture outside more often. And Amelia the Bunny, Marco the Panda, and Lewis the Raccoon are all just waiting to be unfurled for an impromptu picnic, flown proudly as a cape, or tucked under a little head for some serious stargazing. Related: 10 really...

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These cool nature kits from Rose & Rex let kids choose their own summer adventure.

We’ve found the cutest new children’s toy, and it includes fairy dust. Or a treasure map. What more could any child want, really? The new, cool nature kits from Rose & Rex are what little kids’ dreams are made of, packed neatly into a cute wooden box. Carefully curated boxes that are sure to inspire kids to create and play, and take their big imaginations outdoors this summer. These nature kits come in two varieties, a Fairyhouse Kit and a Treasure Hunter’s Kit, so there is something for everyone, depending on whether your child is more inclined to whimsy or adventure (not that...

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Clear the table for 11 of the best board games for older kids. (Hooray for outgrowing Candy Land!)

The school year is winding down and I’m looking forward to nights with no homework (yay!) and fewer extracurricular activities on our calendar (double yay!). That means board game night. So I started to track down the best board games for older kids, since mine are quickly outgrowing the likes of Candy Land and Pictionary Jr. Of course, there are always classics like Risk or regular old Chess, which we’ve loved and played for years at home. But I’ve also discovered some newer games for older kids that are a little more challenging for kids 10 and up. And that, of course, means they’re a bit more fun for us adults to...

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Braille Bricks: the coolest new toy for kids with visual impairments

If you know us at all, you know we geek out when we find cool toys or kids’ gear that promote inclusivity. So when we discovered Braille Bricks, the LEGO-inspired building blocks that help visually impaired kids can learn to spell through play, we thought they were absolutely brilliant. And now they’re trying to bring these toys to all kids, everywhere, and we want to help. It’s so easy and doesn’t cost a dime. But first, you’ve got to watch the video of these kids getting their first sets of Braille Bricks. Grab the tissues. It’s heart-meltingly sweet. It’s so, so smart too. These moveable blocks gives kids so...

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Blankie Tails makes a big splash with new mermaid tails for dolls

If our most popular post of 2015, which introduced the brilliant and much coveted Blankie Tails, is any indication, there are now swarms of kids across America, flipping (ha) for their super-soft, well-made mermaid and shark tail blankets that are perfect for cozying up on the couch, or showing off at sleepovers. Lucky for all their kid fans, Blankie Tails just released the perfect complement to their people-sized tails: mermaid tails for dolls. Kind of ridiculous — and yet, ridiculously cute, right? After all, kids are outfitting their American Girl dolls in everything from equestrian wear to leg casts, so why not mermaid tails? I love that these...

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