Category: Toys + Playthings

The ultimate awesome gift: Your own custom box of Crayola crayons.

I still remember how special it would feel to get a brand new box of 64 Crayola crayons just for myself — and that was before Crayola My Way, a super cool new way to create a box of totally custom Crayola crayons. Not only can you personalize the outside of the box with photos and a short message or name, but you can also choose which colors go inside. Does your child only color with Cornflower blue? Always run out of the metallics first? Love everything purple? No problem. Best birthday gift ever! Related: Ultimate Birthday Party Gift Guide It’s super simple to personalize...

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Naturally Perfect Dolls: A standout at this year’s Toy Fair

There’s something special about getting a doll that looks “just like you.” It’s one of the many reasons Cool Mom Picks loves companies like Corolle who make baby dolls of color as well as boy dolls for our sons to love. Of course it’s partly why American Girl Dolls became so beloved. And it’s the reason I was stoked to stumble upon Naturally Perfect Dolls at this year’s Toy Fair this week. The idea for the Naturally Perfect Dolls line, created by parents Angelica and Jason Sweeting, was inspired by their young African-American daughter asking for yellow hair and white skin — for herself — so she...

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Oh boy, Oh! Toys: The cool kids’ gifts you just can’t find anywhere else

Since Cool Mom Picks started a decade ago, we’ve made it our mission to find small, independent stores that sell unique, eco-friendly, hard-to-find toys for your kids so that all you have to do is scroll and shop. My newest favorite, Oh! Toys, goes to great lengths (or maybe I should say great distances) to find beautifully made toys that encourage open-ended play. Just think of the airfare they’ve saved you! Here are just a few of the really special, creative gifts there that you simply aren’t going to find at your local mall or big toy store chain. Related: The ultimate birthday fift guide: Coolest gifts for...

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Treehouse Kid & Craft: A cool indie toy shop that makes you want to buy everything.

If you’re the type willing to seek out creative, responsibly made, well-designed gifts for your kids — or for one of the endless stream of birthday parties they get invited to — then you have to check out Treehouse Kid & Craft. We just discovered this little gem of an online shop which features tons of the kinds of cool toys for kids of all ages that we’ve always loved supporting. And the prices are surprisingly decent, too. What I’m drawn to most is their drool-worthy DIY section of toys and gifts which are inspired by the hands-on workshops for kids they host at their brick-and-mortar stores in Georgia. If you’re lucky...

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A look at the brand new curvy Barbie: Will you buy her? | Thinking: Parent

Well, after oh, only sixty years or so of women complaining about Barbie’s unrealistic figure, Mattel has decided to get with the 21st century zeitgeist and the changing look of the world, today releasing Barbies with three brand new body shapes — curvy, tall and petite. And you know, looking at them? They actually are curvy, tall and petite. Yes! Interestingly, they’re called the Barbie Fashionista line, which I suppose is a smart marketing move as opposed to calling them something like Barbie Body Shape. Or Bootylicious Barbie which I imagine was off the table immediately.   Of course we had to have...

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15 of the coolest indoor playhouses for kids, from DIY to a few splurges

As someone living in Massachusetts, I’ve always gotten the appeal of having a great playhouse for kids. For many of us, our kids’ primary playtime through the winter will take place indoors where it isn’t 20 degrees and icy. So if you’re looking for ways to make your indoors as fun as possible for your kids, a cool playhouse can give them endless hours of imaginative fun that doesn’t involve bouncing off the walls or jumping on your couch. So we’ve rounded up 15 cool DIY and ready-to-buy playhouses for kids that can be put in a playroom, bedroom, or even a corner of...

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19 cool Rey Star Wars toys and gifts: She might not be in Monopoly, but she sure is here. | Spawned episode 28

We’ve been super frustrated with the lack of Star Wars toys for kids featuring Rey. Not just because she’s a woman, and all of our kids — male and female — love her, but uh…she’s the hero. How the heck do you make a Star Wars Monopoly set or a Star Wars 6-piece Action Figure set “with all your favorite characters” but not the main character of the entire movie? above LEGO Force Awakens Rey and BB-8 art photograph | Holtzman Customs Even JJ Abrams doesn’t get it. We discussed the issue on this week’s Spawned Show: Where is Rey? — especially Mike...

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Telestrations: Like Telephone meets Pictionary meets so much fun

Kudos to my sister-in-law who scored with arguably the biggest hit of all the gifts this holiday season, Telestrations. Or actually, credit may go to my 9-year-old niece who saw it in a store and said, “hey, that looks fun” which was the understatement of the year. Related: 8 of our favorite family board games for 6 or more players of all ages. Essentially Telestrations like a game of telephone with drawings — you sit in a circle, and each player gets a different word or phrase to write down on a dry-erase flip pad. Then, you flip the page and illustrate that word...

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The 22 best kids’ toys of the year (and other playful gifts) : Editors’ Best of 2015

When you think back to the best toys of the year (and other playful gifts for kids) you probably think about tech, tablets, and things that require cords and batteries. And yet there’s so much more, from wonderful board games, to handmade dolls, to decidedly unplugged toy that inspire tons of creative play and imagination. While we’ve got all the cool tech toys covered for you over at Cool Mom Tech, here are 22 of our favorite new toys of 2015 that captured our — and our children’s — attention. Most are from small brands that really value all the attention they get, but...

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Sesame Street + Tattly = Best stocking stuffer ever. For the kids, too.

I have a longstanding love affair with Sesame Street, so you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that our friends at Tattly recently teamed up with the Sesame Workshop to create a Sesame Street character set of temporary tattoos. Yes, I understand that they’re for kids, and don’t get me wrong, I know a few kids who will be finding these in their stockings this year. But I’m digging them for myself, too, which is why I’m excited they’ve got a Sesame Street Nostalgia set for us old people. I can’t be the only one who secretly wanted a Grover tattoo. Or…...

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Sponsored Message: Flare Play gaming platform streams kid-friendly video games and educational content, right on your TV

This is a sponsored message from Flare Play Kids love video games, but understandably, parents can justify the gaming time better when kids are actually playing something educational. That’s where Flare Play comes in to make everyone happy. This new gaming platform gives kids a huge variety of age-appropriate video games, with lots of parental controls and no clutter of discs or cartridges. Be sure to enter the giveaway below for a chance win your own gaming console!  With more 150 educational games and interactive ebooks designed just for kids from LEGO, Disney, Pixar, Warner Brothers, even Hooked on Phonics, the compact Flare Play console easily plugs into your TV’s...

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The Ultimate Star Wars Guide: Dozens of geeky gifts, party ideas, DIY projects, recipes, and random Force-inspired insanity.

Okay, so the world is obsessed with Star Wars right now in light of the premier of The Force Awakens. And hey, we count ourselves among you all. Now we can’t exactly say we’ve covered Star Wars “since before it was cool” because 1.) no such thing and 2.) we were not blogging in 1978. But we have put together an awesome Star Wars guide, filled with so many fun finds from over the years — gifts, guides, party ideas, recipes (Chewbacca donuts!) and just random awesome stuff. It’s so fun seeing them all here in one place. Or, you can always...

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The Originals: Brand New Noise handmade recording gadgets make everyone smile

My kids were in a museum gift shop with friends this summer and of everything in the store, all four spent the entire time fighting over (I mean, taking turns with) what’s best defined as a handmade voice  or music recording gadget from a cool little Brooklyn company called Brand New Noise. And while you might have seen something like their nifty sound boxes, nothing tops the original, which is why we’re happy to include them in our series on original makers, thinkers, and artists. These recording toys are like the best of tech toys meets the best of low-tech toys,...

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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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