Category: Toys + Playthings

Game closet refresher: Doodle Quest challenges grown ups, too

It’s not always easy for us to find a game for kids that is doable, yet challenging, and that the entire family can play. What can we say, we have high standards. However cool-game maker Blue Orange’s new Doodle Quest is giving my family a run for our money, just in time for us to refresh the game closet as the weather starts to cool. And parents: Don’t get too cocky. You may find that this is one game you don’t have to pretend to lose. Doodle Quest is easy to start playing, something this impatient mama appreciates since nothing grinds my game-playing mojo to...

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I am Groot. Well, these cool, sprouting pencils are.

Thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy, a sentient tree who can only say three–fine, four–words is this summer’s coolest superhero. And when I think of how cool these plantable, sprouting pencils will look once they bloom in a pot of soil, all I can think about is baby Groot, dancing. Which means your kids can do their homework with Groot. Sprout pencils are made of sustainably-grown cedar with a special, water-activated seed capsule where the eraser should go. Once your pencil is too short to write with, just follow the included directions to plant it. Soon you’ll have a pot...

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Scooter Safety for Kids: 7 smart tips for a safe scoot to school and back again

Summer may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean kids will be hanging up their scooters anytime soon. In some neighborhoods, we’re even scooting to school and hopefully safely. Our partner Micro Kickboard (we love them so much!) is a brand we all have trusted and loved and owned for years, which is why we are thrilled to work with them again. (And apologies to our kids, but no, this doesn’t mean “we can get another one.”) Micro Kickboard also knows a thing or two about scooter safety for kids, because they really care about them. Hey, a lot of them are parents...

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Lovely literary pencils for your favorite young writer

Why settle for #2 pencils when these literary pencils are bound to be #1 on any bookish kid’s school supply list? Whether you’ve got a tween into Harry Potter and Ramona Quimby or a teen with a soft spot for Alice or a hankering to be Divergent, those plain yellow wood pencils on the school supply list are  yesterday’s news. Bouncing Ball Creation on Etsy hand-rolls #2 pencils with book pages to create pencils that will please the most persnickety teacher and amuse the writer. Each set includes five standard pencils, pre-sharped and ready for the first day of school,...

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What are the best gifts for a two year old? We’ve got tons!

Choosing the best gift for a two year old from among ride-on vehicles, construction toys, dolls and more can seem overwhelming, so we’ve narrowed it down to some favorites that our own boys and girls have loved. Because that first birthday party may get more hoopla, but we know the second is where you get to buy the really fun gifts for a toddler who is just getting ready to, well, toddle everywhere. And, possibly, remember your gift in the first place.   RIDE-ON TOYS FOR TWO YEAR OLDS   You probably don’t have to worry about a two-year-old getting enough exercise, but the challenge is to...

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A natural wooden dollhouse so adorable, an elephant couldn’t forget it. Especially in this case.

We’ve seen just about everything in the  dollhouse world, but we’ve never seen an elephant you could live in. The natural wooden dollhouse called the Ele Villa (“elephant house”), from natural, sustainable toy company Rock and Pebble definitely brings something new to the world of imaginative play, and I love the underbelly parking as much as I love the well-dressed people who live there. Don’t miss limited time free shipping below! The Ele Villa dollhouse is made of birch and is totally sustainable, natural, and non-toxic. With two floors standing 16″ tall and eight rooms that can be painted or decorated to your heart’s content, it’s as...

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Our favorite safe, cool bike helmets for kids. Whether or not they’re future Tour de France riders

It can be a struggle to get kids to remember to wear their helmets, but when their bike safety gear looks as good as these cool  bike helmets for kids–they’re much more likely to use one. So since it’s July, and in our house the Tour de France is on TV every morning (meaning between stages, my own little cyclists are out on the driveway doing their own time trials) we’ve put together our favorite bike helmets for your kids. Because I’ve seen the falls in the race, and I want to be sure my kids are really safe when they’re out on our street...

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5 of the newest, coolest kid-powered ride-on toys. No batteries, no motors.

With ride-on toys like the Skoooch, the CycoCycle, and the Explorer Go-Kart in our garage, our own driveway is often the most fun place to be in the summer. And if you’re looking for something totally different to get your kids out and riding this summer, here are some of the newest, and coolest, ride-on toys I’ve seen lately. The cool styling of the Mobo Tot cruiser gets a Disney Planes makeover (shown at top), and I happen to love the result. With its modern color combination, Mobo’s kid-powered vehicle looks ready for some serious summer cruising. And I appreciate the safety flag that will...

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9 garden toys and gifts for kids that will help get their hands dirty.

If you have yet to get your kids into gardening, you’re in for a treat – kids are naturals. Last year my husband built us a small garden box in the back yard, and my kids and I planted some seeds and watched them grow into tomatoes and squash and peppers, which became spaghetti and casseroles and fajitas. It was such a fun process for them to see how their dirty fingers and hard work produced something so wonderful.  Let alone teaching them that no, tomatoes don’t come “from the store.” To get your kids excited for gardening, try some of...

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Pop culture dolls: Ridiculously hip, surprisingly cuddly.

If you’ve ever dreamed of having your own David Bowie to snuggle, we’ve got good news: These pop culture dolls by French artisan My Name is Simone are just as much for you as they are for kids. Whether you’re into Ziggy Stardust, the King of Pop, or a certain fabulous fashion designer named Karl, they’re all based on her favorite style icons who will look equally as posh on the couch or on a shelf in a mod nursery. There are five dolls available now from Little Collector, each made of 100% organic, sustainable materials. Along with the three you...

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7 fantastique French gifts for kids in honor of Bastille Day

Even if our plans today don’t include a French military parade on the Champs-Elysées, in honor of Bastille day today, we’re giving a special nod to our fashionable friends on the other side of the pond by featuring some of our favorite French gifts for kids, or at least French inspired. Especially good for kids not old enough to watch Les Miserables on Netflix yet. Even if your kids don’t have one drop of French in them, we think they’ll love to receive some of the playthings here, that have us longing for Paris.     Each of the soft, squishy Paris-themed pillows from A...

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Lille Huset: The diy dollhouse kits we wish we had as kids.

We adored Lille Huset’s eco-friendly, laminated, recycled paperboard DIY dollhouses the moment we discovered them at Toy Fair  earlier this year. Founder Alyson Beaton’s mission is so wonderful: to encourage kids to build and customize their homes, not just play with preexisting ones. Besides, they’re beautiful. So we are thrilled that we are now carrying the US-made Lille Huset kits at the Cool Mom Picks indie shop, along with other wonderful handmade and indie items from makers around the world. Update: Regretfully, the great.ly shop is no longer in operation. We hope you’ll find other cool stuff you love throughout our site. Lille Huset’s houses come flat-packed so that you...

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5 fun new beach toys for kids that beat regular shovels and pails

Tis the season for playing in the sand (yay for summer!) so we’ve rounded up some of the most fun and coolest-looking new beach toys for kids. If you’ve got a seaside trip planned,we hope these help you amp up the standard buckets and shovels. Because it’s good to keep them busy when they aren’t dodging waves or asking if they can bury you up to your neck in the sand.   SAND MOLDS FROM EDUCO Why build a regular ol’ sand castle when you could create the seaside Taj Mahal or Parthenon? I love Educo’s sand molds that come in famous shapes including the Great Wall...

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Stick-lets help build forts. And imaginations. We happen to like both.

My kids love to build clubhouses and can turn anything into a fort—our playground, the shady spot under the deck, you name it. So with summer here, I was pretty excited discover Stick-lets, a new toy that lets them do that very thing. Stick-lets are thick pieces of silicone with holes cut out, so you can slide them over the end of two sticks and build a structure with them. They call them “silicone lashings” but that sounds like something out of Game of Thrones, to us. They stretch pretty well (although it takes some strength to pull the heavy-duty silicone),...

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Tree + Me

We missed the boat on a big fancy modern swing set for my kids–maybe because we live in the city and don’t have a yard? Yeah, that could have a little to do with it. But their Grandma and Papa put up a handmade swing for them which made me realize that once again, the basics can make kids perfectly happy. Especially when it’s one that will last–maybe until the next generation? That’s why I got all “awwwww” when I saw the gorgeously handcrafted old fashioned wooden tree swing from Minnesota’s The Original Tree Swing on Etsy. Pricy? Yeah. But built (from...

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X is for Xantus and M is for Modern with these vibrant animal alphabet flash cards

Okay, so M is actually for Monkey in this set of flash cards for kids, but X really is Xantus–Xantus’s Hummingbird, to be exact. We’re stunned by the modern, gorgeous, high design illustrations on these Animal Alphabet Flash Cards by illustrator Paul Lee. Hey, we’re just impressed that someone finally found a real animal that starts with X. Lee, a father of two, originally designed the cards for his own kids, but we’re so glad he made the pack available for the rest of us. Whether you want posh cards to teach your own little monkeys the alphabet, need a stunning gift for a...

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Summer camp care package ideas so cool, the kids might even miss you. Maybe.

If your kids are headed to camp this summer, sending them a cool summer camp care package will make their day. Or week. Even if they didn’t even look back to wave when you dropped them off. We’ve got a whole bunch of fun ideas for care package goodies that, according to our own kids, will make yours proclaim you the best parent in the world to all of his or her bunkmates. Short of sending a life’s supply of candy. Just be sure to check with your camp before sending one out–they all have different care package rules, especially when it comes...

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Sponsored Post: Generation Grit retro-inspired action figures that come from history, not cartoons

This is a sponsored message from Generation Grit Mom of four, Laura Hale, was looking for action figures for her sons that would offer some of the wholesome, creative play accompanied by thoughtful storybooks that so many girls had already discovered with their own line of popular dolls. That’s why she set out to design Generation Grit, a new line of retro-inspired action figures, which has just launched a Kickstarter campaign. The series will kick off with Mac Mason, an adventurous fourteen-year-old boy from 1943 who loves ciphers, camping and baseball. An accompanying book describes his courageous adventures with his British cousin William back in...

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The new G-Bike balance bike: For kids who can’t wait for their own wheels

We love balance bikes here at Cool Mom Picks because they do such a great job of teaching young kids how to get around safely on two wheels. I was sold on them after learning the hard way how challenging it is to wean a fearful child off of training wheels (oy, my back) and now I’m particularly smitten with the new line of G-Bike balance bikes made by my kids’ favorite scooter maker, Micro Kickboard.   Micro Kickboard’s brightly colored, toddler-friendly G-Bike balance bike is created for kids as young as two who are eager to hit the open road–or more realistically, the driveway and sidewalk.  I dig the look...

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Cool custom family dolls, because everyone needs a mini-me. Or a mini-us.

We have a thing for personalized dolls at Cool Mom Picks, but I am legitimately swooning over these sophisticated (but still adorable) custom family dolls, handmade by Liliana Tijeras of Citizens Collectible on Etsy. They may be made in Spain, but the couple with the square glasses could have stepped right off of the sidewalks of Brooklyn or Los Feliz. They may even be two dads–hard to tell. Liliana perfectly captures personality in felt and canvas, customizing every doll’s hair color, facial hair, skin tone, and any of more than a dozen hair styles. You can also choose from a slew of fabrics for their outfits, and even...

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Awesome action figures for girls that are actually for girls.

I have always said that I’m not anti-princess, just pro-choice. When it comes to my daughters’ toys, I’ve always wanted them to have a variety, which is why we don’t limit ourselves to “girls’ aisles”  in toy stores. And now IAmElemental comes along and gives us actual action figures for girls–a phenomenal option to inspire creative play right alongside their action movie-themed Legos  and rag dolls and American Girl Dolls and everything else in the toy chest. Still in the midst of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, this mom-run company is reinventing the female action figure, with a series made for actual girls to play with–instead of adult collectors to ogle. You...

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It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a girl doll in a superhero costume that you design.

We were so excited when we discovered Lottie, a doll who skips the stilettos and miniskirts (and curves) for clothes that look like what an actual kid would wear. Lottie comes with lots of skin and hair colors and has oodles of outfits and activities from martial arts to horseback riding to butterfly-catching. Until now, she didn’t have a superhero costume, but that’s about to change. Until May 7, kids can help design Lottie’s superhero persona, and one winner will see her costume actually made for Lottie dolls everywhere. We love Lottie, and we can’t wait to find out...

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Plants vs. Zombies, now on your windowsill

There’s a zombie on your la-awn… and on your windowsill, thanks to this fun new Zombie Plant Growing Kit from our pals at TickleMe Plants. Since I kill most of the plants I try to grow, I’m intrigued by the idea of a plant that is actually supposed to die when I touch it. And my kids will get a major kick out of watching it come back to life, which that tomato plant from NASA definitely didn’t do. Please don’t tell Bobak Ferdowsi. The Zombie Plant is actually Mimosa pudica, which was common in the wild where I...

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Earth Day pick: Green Toys to help keep our oceans clean

I often talk to the kids about why it’s so important to keep our neighborhood and parks clean by recycling or picking up trash we find on the sidewalk. And this Earth Day, I love that Cool Mom Picks favorite Green Toys is reminding us how important it is to take care of our oceans and waterways too. Green Toys’ Safe Seas Sets, created in conjunction with the non-profit organization Sustainable Surf, pairs a fun biplane toy or submarine toy with the paperback All the Way to the Ocean which will get kids thinking about how little actions–like tossing a gum wrapper...

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Buildex Speed Machines: Cool building toys for kids who love their wheels

If you’re looking for a neat little birthday gift, or perhaps something unique for the Easter basket, check out the Buildex Speed Machine construction toy. Because not every kid wants just a bunny in her basket. These brightly colored, wooden-construction building toys for kids turn into toy motorcycles, toy trains, and toy race cars that go together easily without glue or tape. And thanks to a GridLock construction system, they won’t fall apart when your child takes them for a spin. My son loves that the rubber rimmed wheels on his Speed Drifter Speed Bike really do spin, and the front...

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Tinyme custom letter blocks have your name written all over them

We have featured piles of cool wooden alphabet blocks for kids over the years, from modern design blocks to steampunk science blocks, to Storyblox‘s “build-your-own” wooden blocks. And now there’s a cool set of custom name blocks on the, er, block, that’s perfect for a baby shower gift or child’s birthday gift. Australia’s Tinyme, whose puzzles, labels, and fun printables have been CMP favorites for a while, has put their creative stamp on custom name blocks. In order to get these beauties into our hands (which they will), they’ve got a Kickstarter campaign in the works to raise production dollars. And...

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The Pop-Clock alarm clock for kids. Waking up almost seems fun.

I have the hardest time getting my night owl daughter up for school in the mornings. She likes to come visit us most nights around 2 AM, so when morning comes around she’s too tired to get up and dressed for kindergarten. The trick that’s working for me—for this week, at least—is Pop-Clock, a super-fun alarm clock for kids. You might be familiar with the Clocky alarm clock for older kids, and now Pop-Clock is  made just for younger ones just learning to get out of bed by themselves. When the alarm goes off, the creature’s head goes flying across the room...

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Wooden learning toys in every color of the rainbow

If you asked my daughter what her favorite color is, her answer would be “rainbow.” I can’t agree more, and its bright and cheery vibe makes the sweet rainbow learning toys for toddlers so perfect for spring. This acorn sorting game is a perfect activity for the toddler set. Found among the wooden learning toys at Etsy’s Almost Crunchy, it is a wonderful application of the simple Waldorf teaching method of learning through play–the best way, if you ask me. The handmade set comes with 18 brightly colored acorns and 6 matching bowls to engage sorting, color matching and counting skills. It...

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Chimeras mix-and-match plush toys: Lend me a hand. And an ear. And a bat wing.

If your kids are always drawing their own magical animals, these wacky and adorable Chimeras plush toys from Walrus Toys can bring their dreams to life in a way that doesn’t involve a trip to the Island of Dr. Moreau. When I was a kid, we had the Wuzzles, and we liked them–remember Ellaroo and Bumblelion? But now, kids get to mix and match all sorts of animal parts to make a Munny, a Batephant, or a Pog. Or a Munbatephanog, if you get the full set. These Chimeras come in sets of two creatures, each of which can be...

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Tegu’s new 130-piece magnetic block building set lets kids build to infinity and beyond.

We have played with Tegu and drank the KoolAid. From their mind-bending explorer sets to mobile toy kits, they simply rock the block. Our favorite eco-friendly block-makers have just rolled out a super tricked out magnetic block building set for the master builders out there, and we want it (for our kids) bad. This 130-piece classroom set is the ultimate for kids who want to get serious about their Tegu construction. We can only imagine what creations could come of out this totally souped-up box. If you are looking to kick up the playroom, add to your home school set-up, or...

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