Tag: blocks

Beating boredom with cool wooden toys inspiring art, design, engineering and imagination.

Walking the toy aisles of most big discount stores can make any parent feel dizzy, to use a polite word. Where are all the cool wooden toys? Where are the toys that inspire imagination? Why does it seem like every toy made for kids these days is some beeping, flashing, plastic monstrosity that isn’t built to hold a kid’s interest through the year? Well, not all…but lots of them. So I’m always reassured when I find smaller toymakers doing really special things. Like my latest discovery, the innovative company Once Kids, which makes cool wooden toys that help our children get in touch with their inner artist, designer, or engineer. And...

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Creative toys for an 8 year old — no beeps, boops or batteries

My daughter loves her screen time, that’s for sure, but lately I have been keenly aware of the other creative toys that she, as an 8 year old, really gravitates to, without any prompting from me. Or really, the toys that I realize I’m always telling her to put away, 16 times in a row before she listens. So maybe I’ll stop asking her to clean them up. I’m sure I’m not the only parent who secretly — or not-so-secretly — loves that quiet time when I’m reading or working, and the kids are next to me playing quietly, without...

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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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6 ways to entertain kids in restaurants without (gasp) pulling out a screen.

The very first thing my son does when we sit down to eat at a restaurant (well, after ordering both ice water and milk) is ask for my iPhone. I’ll admit that I’m often tempted to hand it over because it’s such an easy way to keep him entertained while we’re waiting for our food in restaurants. I mean, I always have it on me, and he can play any number of kids’ apps, watch a movie, or find kid-friendly clips on YouTube. But, he’s four. I know doesn’t need all that extra screen time. (Do any of us, really?) Plus,...

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Handmade baby gifts with an Australian accent. (But no, they don’t talk.)

It’s not often I discover a new Etsy shop and automatically think okay, every single thing in there is adorable. But that’s the case with Babee and Me, which I can forgive for being based in Byron Bay, Australia, considering what beautiful work is coming out of the shop. From soft handmade baby toys, to funky teething rattles (oh, those cameras!), and tons of gorgeous personalized wooden blocks in all kinds of styles, everything just has a wonderful sensibility about it with terrific typography, and modern color combination. I like that the selection also includes lots of black and white gifts,...

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6 sets of cool wooden blocks for older kids that are anything but square

Just when I think it’s time to put the baby blocks away, my kids will surprise me by building some huge creative structure on the living room floor, enhanced by LEGO men and dollhouse furniture. Still, I can tell the basic square blocks we’ve had for ten years aren’t quite cutting it anymore. In my search for some cool wooden blocks for older kids like my own, I’ve found some incredible sets that look more like inspiring works of art than baby toys. These wooden block sets might even keep my kids from asking for more screen time, and I say that’s worth...

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A paper block city that’s ready to travel with your kids

If your kids like building blocks as much as mine, you’ll want to check out Paper Punk’s new Urban Fold paper blocks which allow kids 6 and up to build a sprawling metropolis without the bulk and weight of traditional blocks. This is such a great toy to toss in the car when you’re headed out for a few days at the beach, or to keep on hand for one of those hot summer days when just dragging out heavier wooden blocks is more work than anyone can imagine doing. Related: A creative activity book that could make your kid a future Duchamps or Dali Instead...

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5 creative photo gifts for baby showers. All guaranteed to last longer than a bottle warmer.

Photo gifts for baby showers can be a win even before the little one arrives. It’s just so personal and thoughtful, and hey, if you’re going to go off the registry, might as well really go off the registry. So we’ve looked around to find some of the most creative photo gift ideas out there. You know, the ones so sweet they’re destined to bring tears to the eyes of the guest of honor (with a little help of those pregnancy hormones). Of course, as with any photo gift, these require a little bit of lead time to get ready before...

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8 of the coolest Year of the Sheep baby gifts for your little lamb

I’ve always loved the Chinese Zodiac and not just because I’m a Chinese American. I am fascinated by the history of the signs and their meanings. So with the Chinese New Year just a couple of days away, we thought it would be fun to round-up cool Year of the Sheep baby gifts. If you happen to be expecting a little baby lamb (we’ll go with the lamb instead of the ram) in 2015 or know someone who is, here are some wonderful Year of the Sheep baby gifts to help celebrate. Kung Hei Fat Choi!   The beautiful knit dolls from BlaBla Kids have...

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LEGO goes to the birds

It’s going to be a while before I can look out my window and see anything bright and colorful fluttering around my yard, so I’m especially pleased that LEGO has chosen to release LEGO Birds, a brand new set of feathered friends that is so realistic, I may just gaze at them instead. The set features detailed models of a hummingbird, blue jay, and robin, each standing between 5 and 7 inches tall and perched on its own stand with its Latin name in front. There’s even a pamphlet more more info on the species inside. It all adds up to a certain sophistication which means I...

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How fun are these number blocks? Let us count the ways…

With so many amazing modern building blocks out there, it’s not hard to find a set that I’d love to give to my kids. But I’ve just discovered SumBlox, the most incredibly original set of durable beech wood blocks that mixes math learning and block play together in such an interesting way, I think they’d be just as valuable in our kids’ classrooms as in their playrooms. Related: 6 cool sets of wooden blocks for older kids that are anything but square What makes the cool-looking SumBlox number blocks so unique is that each block has its value represented by its height so that kids can...

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Talk Like a Pirate Day: Avast, me hearties, it’s time for the cutest pirate treasures for kids!

Ahoy mateys, it’s Talk Like a Pirate Day, one of our favorite should-be-a-real-holiday days of the year. And though my “pirate speak” is a little rusty, my ability to find some of the cutest and coolest pirate-related treasures is right on the mark. So keep reading for six of the best pirate-related gifts for the little landlubbers and scallywags in your crew. Hopewell Creek Designs’ 9-piece felt pirate set (at top) has everything to get your buccaneers started: a handy treasure map, a compass, gold doubloons, a bottle of Pirate Rum, and the Jolly Roger flag to fly proudly on the mast...

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The best gifts for a 4 year old? Tons of fantastic ideas.

Buying a special gift for a four-year-old is so much fun since this is the age that kids really start to show their preferences and interests. Plus, they aren’t sticking every little piece into their mouths (phew) and can play independently for a lot more time than their younger selves. So if you’re looking for the best gifts for a four year old in your life, skip the stuffed animals. This BTDT mom has a lot of cool ideas for you that are extra special. Related: The coolest birthday gifts for 4-year-olds: The ultimate birthday party gift guide   OUTDOOR TOY...

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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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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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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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Wooden love blocks you have to love, any way you look at them.

It’s not hard to find signs of love all around us today, like these gorgeously designed wooden blocks that spell out love in 12 different languages. And when you take a closer look at how artful these blocks are, you’ll understand why I think they’d be equally at home as a piece of room decor as they would be a plaything for the kids. House Industries makes such incredible stuff we included several designs in our roundup of the best modern alphabet blocks for kids. Similarly, their Love Heart Blocks are so intricately designed, they are truly unique from every...

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8 extremely cool sets of modern alphabet blocks

I don’t know if there’s a more perfect gift for a baby than a great set of modern alphabet blocks. (Besides maybe a great alphabet poster.) They start as decor in the nursery, become a great toddler toy, and eventually you get to watch as your kid turns them into towers, cities, fortresses of all kinds. My grade-schoolers still play with a set they got as babies — I’d call that a great shower gift. Here, I’ve put together some of the coolest modern alphabet blocks. I especially love how each one is perfectly gender neutral. Modern indeed.  ...

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Classic wood toys that don’t cost a billion dollars

I admit it: I am obsessed with wood toys, despite the fact that, cost-wise, I can get a gazillion plastic toys for one fab wooden toy. Wood is a little more mainstream now in the world of baby toys, but I find the prices haven’t decreased much. But CMP fave Skip Hop has been introducing affordable wood toys to the market…and I couldn’t be more enamored.   The latest Skip Hop wood toys, the Giraffe Safari line, have totally captured my heart. For starters, I am crazy in love with the origami-esque Fold & Play Book and want it for myself. And the little Flip...

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Meet the cool new kids on the blocks

I try to teach my kids that it’s the little differences in each of us that make us so delightfully special…and delightfully weird. And that’s exactly what the imaginative minds at Wee Society celebrate and encourage in their new collection of unique (and pretty wonderful) toys and games. Wee Society is a toy and design company that believes quirks should be celebrated — and hey, being a quirky-as-they-come family, we wholeheartedly agree. Right now, we’re having a blast exploring Wee You-Things Blocks. Funky and bright with modern designs, the blocks offer three brain stimulation puzzles, but they’re also perfect for simple...

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