Category: Toys + Other Playthings

Squishable food stuffed animals: Cute enough to eat

I made a quick stop at my local toy shop the other week to grab holiday gifts for Liz’s kids, and the second I saw the squishable food stuffed animals I was pretty sure I had found winners. Well, after listening to the shrieks and squeals when they pulled them out of the bag, I went back to grab some for my kids too. So, it’s not just that these squishable food stuffed animals are ridiculously adorable. They’re super soft and squishy (yes, they live up to their name), and as someone who is generally a little loathe to stuffed animals...

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Unique gifts for creative kids that I haven’t seen before? Reader Q&A

Hi Cool Mom Picks! Can you put together some unique holiday gift ideas for creative kids that go beyond the same craft kits I see everywhere? Thanks so much!   Ooh, I love this question. We know that all kids have creativity in them, so Cool Mom Picks is always filled with the kinds of toys and gifts that really help kids harness that innate creativity and imagination. While there’s no shortage of gifts out there for kids who love crafts, art, making stuff, or good old-fashioned imaginary play, I’ve combed our recent holiday gift guides, toy guide series, birthday...

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4 fun paper jewelry kits for kids that make great holiday gifts

Paper jewelry kits are a pretty awesome gift, giving your crafty kids something wonderful they can make and wear — even when you’re sure you want one more little bead, button, or plastic charm strewn about your house. I adore paper jewelry kits as much as my kids because they are fun and can turn out some pretty cool-looking pieces. Plus, they can go right in the recycling bin once my kids have moved on to something else, unlike the cheap jewelry that they covet by the counters of clothing stores. So for a great jewelry-making gift that uses paper as its medium of choice, I’ve got four fun...

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Immerse your kids in Chinese culture without the super long plane ride

We love finding new ways to teach our kids about the big, diverse world that extends far beyond the boundaries of their neighborhood and town. And while nothing can replace actually going to the countries themselves, playsets like this one from Whole Wide World Toys may help even our littlest jet setter hopefuls learn all about different countries in a way that is fun and educational. And their first stop? The huge country of China. What makes Whole Wide World Toys’ World Village China Playset so neat is how it incorporates a ton of age-appropriate information along with the toys themselves. Each playset comes with...

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14 cool skateboarding gifts for your favorite shredder.

We’ve got a few passionate skateboarders in our lives so we’ve been super excited to have the opportunity to spend some time searching around for cool skateboarding gifts then sharing our faves, thanks to our most awesome new sponsor, The Parking Block skateboard stand. We are stoked (see how we did that?) to welcome them, because, wow — we don’t know if this is a better gift for boarders, or for any parents who are constantly nagging them to get their skate gear off the floor! Plus, we’re always happy to support an amazing, entrepreneurial small California-based business that’s created something really smart and useful,...

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7 unique nativity sets for families with young kids. So basically, not glass.

Now that it’s officially December, I will soon unpack and set up my childhood nativity set, even if our holidays are largely secular nowadays. However after three kids who turned my nativity into a sort of dollhouse toy each year, it’s time for me to consider something new. Which is why I have been looking around the web for a beautiful and unique nativity set for families that won’t be easily destroyed, should the kids get a little handsy with the Wise Men. In other words, no $800 porcelain figurines painted with 14k gold leaf. So I came up with seven nativity sets I really...

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14 of the coolest art toys and gifts for kids of all ages: 2015 Holiday Toy Gift Guide

If there is one gift we always hope our kids get unwrap this holiday, it’s an art toy or craft kit, or something that encourages and help develops their artistic sides. For us, toys that build on children’s natural creativity are as important to feeding their brains as educational toys that teach proficiency in reading, math and science. If you’re looking for a terrific selection of art toys for kids, one of the first places we always look online is Fat Brain Toys, our amazing sponsor for this third and final post in our Holiday Toy Gift Guide series. Fat Brain Toys has so more than...

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14 of the best outdoor toys for kids of all ages: 2015 Holiday Toy Gift Guide

Some of our very favorite gifts for our active kids are the cool outdoor toys that get them up and moving all year round. And, wow, we have found a bunch of great outdoor toys for kids of every age at Fat Brain Toys, our fantastic sponsor for this second post in our mini holiday toy gift guide series. From bikes to scooters to toys and games that get you off the couch, we love that Fat Brains Toys is a one-stop shop for a ton of the best outdoor toys from so many of the brands we love and trust — as...

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14 of our favorite small shops and online children’s boutiques to help you #shopsmall for the holidays.

Since the first November it launched several years ago, even long before we teamed up with partner American Express who is now sponsoring and championing the campaign, we’ve been staunch advocates for Small Business Saturday. And we’re still thrilled to mark on our calendars each year. In fact, supporting small businesses is the whole reason we started Cool Mom Picks in the first place. So this is very dear to our hearts. While it would be impossible to share every small business we adore (i.e. visit our archives in every single category since the beginning of our site),with the help of our editors, we’ve somehow managed to narrowed...

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14 of the best educational toys for kids of every age: 2015 Holiday Toy Gift Guide

If you could use a little help picking out toys for the kids on your list this holiday, we’re about to make things a lot easier for you with a mini holiday toy gift guide, starting with the best educational toys for kids. This is the first in a three-part series dedicated to great toy gifts for kids, brought to you by the amazing folks at Fat Brain Toys. If you’re a long time reader of our site, you know how thrilled we are about this, because we’ve been recommending the carefully curated collection of toys from this family-owned business for years...

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It’s time to make some fun family memories. Are you game?

This is a sponsored message from SimplyFun board games With Thanksgiving break coming up this week and Hanukkah and Christmas not far behind, it’s a great time to be thinking about getting a few family game nights on the calendar. You probably have your own childhood memories of the one relative who always cheated at backgammon, or the younger sibling who whooped the whole family that one time with some amazing beginner’s luck. Now it’s time to make some memories for your own kids. SimplyFun board games is on a mission to make families stronger through collaborative gameplay. They offer more than 100 award-winning games around educational concepts from reading to math, to critical thinking,...

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Holding out for a custom handmade superhero doll.

I’ve been searching for the perfect gift for my niece this Christmas. You know, the one that will make me the favorite aunt. (Kidding. Well, kind of.) As I was scouring Etsy, I found these adorable handmade superhero dolls at La Loba Studio, and I think they would make an amazing heirloom gift at a great price. Emese, the Hungarian artist who creates these dolls, has such a fun eye for color and personality. I love that so many of these dolls celebrate adventure and strength with their superhero capes and masks on. And yet they are sweet and cuddly and excellent bedtime companions,...

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8 of our favorite family board games for 6 or more players of all ages. Just in time for those big holiday gatherings.

We’ve got a strong competitive gene in my family, which means when we all get together, we like to hang around the dinner table playing board games. The kids get in on the action too, but that doesn’t mean we’re relegated to playing kiddie games all the time. We’ve found a lot games that the kids and adults both enjoy, from silly, laugh-out-loud games to more complicated strategy games that take a few hours to play. So, we’ve rounded up our favorite board games for 6 players or more. We hope they help get you through the throngs of friends and family...

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Props in a Box: The gift box that turns dress-up time into an exercise in filmmaking.

Even though Halloween is long over, my kids are still running around in costumes most days, as they’ll continue to do. It’s fun to see the stories they come up with when they dig through our dress-up box — like when Cruella deVille and an astronaut went to a French bakery to have croissants. It happens, you guys. This is why I think so many families with creative, imaginative kids will appreciate the old-school fun meets high-tech fun of Props in a Box. I will say right off the bat that these are definitely splurgey gifts for kids, bu tthey are incredibly thoughtful and really innovative....

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6 fun, easy ideas for making a custom photo memory game a more memorable gift.

Our kids are usually pretty clear about what they want for their big gifts for Christmas, so I often have the most fun thinking about those smaller gifts that are total surprises for our kids. So, we wanted to share one of our favorite affordable gifts our kids actually love: custom photo memory games from our super cool partner, Pinhole Press. – Don’t miss a special discount from Pinhole Press for our readers below – In fact, we shared this idea last year and our readers totally went nuts for it. So we’re thrilled to have such a wonderful sponsor that we know you all like...

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Tegu blocks, now customizable. And adorable. And possibly covered in pink dinosaurs.

Since their launch, we’ve been huge fans of Tegu, makers of the smart, high quality, sustainable wood and magnetic block sets that have just blown up over the years. While their collection of choices has gotten bigger, now Tegu has a wonderful new offering that’s going in the other direction. The adorably creative  Tegu MyBLOCKHEAD wooden block sets are little customizable block sets that let you add a whole lot of personality to an existing set of their blocks, or just create a fun little toy for a kid all on its own. Whether your child is a soccer star, likes everything to be pink, pink, pink, really digs Nyan...

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9 smart ways to organize video game controllers and reclaim your home at last!

It’s about this time every year that we need to ramp up our efforts to get our homes organized and looking awesome for holiday guests. It’s like, what the heck happened to all that spring cleaning I did six months ago? Yeah, well, welcome to parenthood. And one of the organizing solutions that can be the biggest bane for families is all those gadgets, video games and controllers; especially if you know that a few more of them may end up in your homes around oh…say, December or so? So we’re really happy, on behalf of our sponsor, the brand new VTech InnoTV,...

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Pop culture peg dolls, for fans of The Penguin, Harry Potter, pirates, princesses, or Percy Jackson.

Though there are sure to be many awesome high-tech toys out there this holiday season, our latest obsession is the adorably low-tech wooden peg dolls by Wooly Llama on Etsy. I mean, what could be better than hearing your kids playing their own imaginary game of Star Wars while making their best beep-beep-boop noises for the wee little R2D2 peg? Or doing their own version of Harry Potter complete with a rolly-polly Hagrid? Beyond those two huge franchises, Wooly Llama has even more incredibly cute wooden peg dolls, with sets paying homage to the casts of Lord of the Rings, and Percy Jackson so you can pick one that appeals...

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YOXO: Affordable gifts that build imagination. Oh, and maybe a pegasus.

With holidays coming up, we’re seeing a lot more interest in building toys and maker toys, a trend we’ve loved since, well, before it was a trend. And earlier this year at Toy Fair, when I saw the new 5-in-1 pegasus kit from YOXO I thought whoa, that’s going to be one awesome gift for the holidays. Now that it’s finally available, I’m so excited to share it because it’s one heck of a building kit. First off, everything is US-made from recycled wood pulp. This gives the Y, X and O (get it, YOXO?) pieces kind of a cardboard feel, but...

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You never forget your first unicorn.

As we’re browsing the web for our huge annual holiday gift guide (it’s coming readers, sit tight!) I just had to stop to share this amazing find: A plush unicorn rocking horse. Or, I guess, a rocking unicorn would be more apt. While we’ve shared lots of amazing modern rocking horses over the years, I’d say this is up there among my favorites and if my kids were toddlers again, this would totally be a fixture in their rooms. Related: 7 cool playroom ideas for kids that help you reclaim your living room Of course since actual unicorns are hard to come...

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Unicorn horn headbands for Halloween or everyday. Because being a magical, mythological creature never goes out of style.

When these adorable unicorn horn headbands landed in my inbox over the weekend, I immediately forwarded it to Liz and said “Cool, right?!” which is why you’re seeing them right now. If you’ve got an indecisive little one in your house, or hey, want a little quick and easy Halloween something for yourself, hurry up and order one of these. The handmade unicorn horns from BrooklynOwl.com are actually something my kids would wear all year long because really, winter, spring, summer, or fall, they’re all-season creatures. Ha.   Related: 9 really creative, last-minute Halloween costumes for kids you can DIY They...

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An artist transforms Bratz dolls into real female role models and the results are amazing.

When we first discovered Tree Change dolls, our readers went wild and with good reason — mom Sonja Singh is taking one of the most polarizing children’s toys (Bratz) and refashioning them into some of the most beloved children’s toys (wholesome little girl dolls). So now we’re so excited to see that artist Wendy Tsao has found inspiration in Sonja’s own work, and credited her as the impetus for her Mighty Dolls project, an art project in which she upcycles the same Bratz dolls, turning them into a powerful and diverse collection of female role models. Take a look at her site and you’ll recognize author JK Rowling, Nobel...

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Toyboarders: Little green army men like, totally transformed, dude.

I know a lot of parents have a fondness for those little green army men toys of their youth (and the Toy Story franchise) but not everyone wants their kids playing around with guns. So I have to give props to Toyboarders which transformed the idea into a kinder, gentler, and more rad toy option. The sets of 24 little 2″ tall men — and women and kids  — can include skaters, snowboarders, or surfers. And these guys clearly know their stuff, considering actual skaters and boarders will recognize the 8 different poses. but whether your kid knows a tube ride...

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How to scare up the hot new LEGO Monster Minifigures in time for Halloween

You know what’s scary? When LEGO comes out with a new series of 16 LEGO Monster Minifigures that would be perfect for Halloween, but when you go to their website to snag a few to surprise the kids, you see that they are all sold out. {cue scream audio} OK, so maybe this isn’t really a tragedy on any level, but have you gotten a look at these fabulously horrific creatures? We’re looking around at our affiliate Amazon and wow! There’s the disheveled Zombie Businessman minifig holding a tiny newspaper whose headline only says BRAAAINS. There’s the bright green Plant Monster minifig, the creepy Spider...

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cuddle + kind: The new handknit dolls good at snuggling, playing, and feeding kids in need

We love companies that help us do a little extra good when we purchase their products, like TOMS shoes and Bears for Humanity and Mitscoots Socks which each have “buy one, give one” business models. And now we’ve discovered a line of adorable new handknit dolls called cuddle + kind that not only will make our kids squeal from the cuteness, but also help combat child hunger in the US and around the world by providing meals to children in need. Based on the incredible amount of support they’ve received just a week into their Indiegogo campaign, clearly we’re not the only ones who...

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Remember trouble dolls? Now Worry Eaters dolls are helping kids manage anxieties.

Emotions seem to be a big topic with kids at the moment, from help from the Pixar’s Inside Out and the ubiquitous emoji. I like that these are giving us the opportunity to pay more attention to our kids’ feelings and figure out the best way to support them. So I was happy to discover the new Worry Eaters dolls, whose purpose is to help kids address and handle stress and other concerns with friendly support. In my day we had trouble dolls. For my nieces there was “monster spray” for under the bed. And now our kids have Worry Eaters, a new line of plush friends that eats up children’s worries and carry their burdens so that they don’t have...

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Baby play gyms as beautiful as they are fun

A new baby may be small, but they all have some magical ability to fill an entire home with all of their things. So we’re always looking for those gifts and gear essentials that both baby and you will love looking at, like baby play gyms. I love all three of these wooden play gyms that I found from makers on Etsy; they’re all such beautiful alternatives to those big plastic contraptions that can be eyesores in the middle of your living room. But while these are all simple and modern in terms of shape and design, there’s still plenty of accessories and other options to keep...

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10 of the cutest pirate gifts for kids because, argggg it’s Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Avast, me hearties, it’s Talk Like a Pirate Day. And since this esteemed annual holiday falls on a Saturday this year, our kids can plunder the living room and giggle about the “poop deck” all day long without getting in trouble in the classroom. To get you and your little buccaneers in the mood, we’ve rounded up ten great pirate gifts for kids that we love.   Flatout Frankie’s Stack Up Pirates come together to make a fun plaything or bit of room decor for your pirate lover. Made of 100% recyclable cardboard, these two pirates are also a bit of a...

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10 ways to make driveway bike riding more fun for kids

It’s hard to feel like King of the Road when really, you’re King of Don’t  Go Beyond the End of the Driveway! With three kids and one long paved driveway, I’ve been there!  So, whether you live on a house on a high-traffic street, or you just need to keep your kids a little closer to home for whatever reason, I’ve got 10 fun ideas to make driveway bike riding more fun for those kids who love their wheels but could use a little more excitement. And don’t forget the helmets! Even if it is “just” in the driveway....

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My Big Art Show: the fun family card game that might turn your kids into art history whizzes.

Two of my kids have now outgrown some of my own favorite childhood board games like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders — classic versions only, please. (And yes, I admit I do like Candy Land. Don’t ask why.) My kids are now into the kind of strategy board games that take 30 minutes to explain the rules and another 30 minutes to set up the board. They can be a lot of fun, but I don’t always have the time or inclination. So I like to have a few games on hand that we can all play quickly and easily. This week we’ve been binging on My Big Art Show by Susie Hodge....

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