Tag: construction toys

The best kids’ toys, dolls, and games: Editors’ Best of 2014

From amazing dolls to cool new games and imaginative toys, there have been so many fantastic options out for kids at play this year that encourage things we love, like creativity, imagination, building, interest in STEM pursuits, defiance of gender stereotypes and more. Wow, what a year! Plus so many toys are starting to incorporate tech now, that we included some favorites from Cool Mom Tech as well. We hope our list of the coolest kids’ toys of the year includes some new favorites of your own.   This is post is part of of our annual series of Editors Picks of the Year. No...

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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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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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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. Lille Huset’s houses come flat-packed so that you can actually dissemble them whenever they aren’t being used to sit in a bookshelf, not in pieces all over your house. Each kit also...

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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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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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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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6 of the coolest dollhouse kits that promote building, design, and imaginative play. We want to live in them.

Dollhouses have always been a common feature on the floors of Toy Fair, but Liz and I noticed more and more options this year with dollhouse kits that add building and design, and sometimes even circuitry, to the act of play. Future architects and designers of the world, we’ve found the toys for you.   Roominate Dollhouse Building Kits Combining building, engineering, and design, Roominate’s clever dollhouse building kits come together in so many different ways, kids can conceivably construct a totally different house every time they sit down to play. And I love the many ideas on their...

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DIY building kit from Brooklyn, for your architect in training

Maybe you have a kid at home like mine, who is always asking about how buildings stand up, or “Mom, who made that bridge?”  This great Water Tower DIY building kit  that we found at our hometown favorite Brooklyn Makers is a creative way to take his curiosity about architecture hands-on. Brooklyn Makers curates a rad and high quality collection from local artisans and entrepreneurs, with a soft spot for super cool kids’ clothing, gear and toys. We discovered this little craft project at the perfect time, as my NYC child is currently fascinated by the structures that fill this concentrated area, including...

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Everything is awesome with the new Lego Movie sets

Oh you knew I’d go there with the headline, didn’t you? What can I say, just as I said in my Lego Movie review, the song has been stuck in my head for life. Another thing you probably knew: the Lego Movie sets were not long to follow the huge success of the film.  You’re just that smart, aren’t you. We gave you a sneak peek of the Lego Movie Minifigures on Instagram, live from Toy Fair last week, and now you can find them all as part of more than a dozen Lego Movie sets which are so...

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Smart toys for girls that defy the pink aisle. In other words, no princesses, ballerinas or “fashionistas,” whatever career that is.

This week at Toy Fair, I must say a progressive mama like me had a much harder time than expected scoping out smart toys for girls that defy the pink aisle. In other words, the girl dolls and figures were wearing something beyond princess garb or sparkly pink lace tulle. To be clear, I have no problem at all with ballerinas or fashion design kits or or traditional little baby dolls swathed in pink gingham–we feature plenty of them here But I have always wanted my daughters (and all the boys out there too!) to have choices. And if...

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The building blocks of our nation. Way more fun than that sounds.

I remember one of the first times I was interviewed by a media outlet, and they surprised me with an off-topic question: What’s the best safe toy for a child? I paused, then stammered, “Uh…blocks.” Not my finest moment. But the truth is, I do love giving blocks to kids. They’re perfect for toddlers, they grow with their imaginations as they hit kindergarten, and now even my young grade-schoolers can spend hours creating fantasy lands, stories, and made-up games with them. I’ve been a long-time fan of Uncle Goose Blocks, which not only have some incredibly creative and educational...

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Best gifts for 8-year-old boys: ideas that will get a big “wow.” Reader Q & A

What are the best gifts for an 8-year-old boy? I’m looking for a big gift, in the $50-$100 range. —CMP reader, via Twitter   Oh, you mean the kind of gift that makes a child pause while unwrapping, shout out with glee, and rush over to give you a big hug? Well, small gifts can do that too, but on the splurgier side, here are some of our favorites according to our own sons — and by the way, according to our daughters, all these cool kids’ gifts would be great for girls, too. Just note we stayed away...

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Natural handmade wooden block sets for kids, ready to become the city of their dreams

We’re always on the lookout for wonderful wooden, eco-friendly kids’ toys as an alternative to the plastic stuff that seems to be eating up the toy store aisles more and more each year. Etsy is always a great place to turn, and this wonderful new shop is doing some nifty things that aren’t your average wooden building toy.    Cubiciti makes some super funky modular block sets in both natural unpolished maple, and gorgeous painted wood–all non-toxic, water-based paints, of course. The blocks have pegs that fit into on a small plastic base, allowing your kids to configure the cars...

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Kickstart some cool play with mighty awesome Olliblock block sets

If you love the idea of toys that represent kids of all sorts, we think you’ll dig the way one of our favorite indie companies is Kickstarting some even more fun mix-and-match block sets. And the higher-level rewards might just blow you away. Our pals at Olliblocks/Mixmates have a Kickstarter going through August 3  that takes the next step in evolution: instead of just buying a PDF and making the blocks yourself, you can grab some extra special, artisan-made sets of beautiful blocks. (Edited to add: Olliblocks are now available for sale at the Caravan Shoppe Site) We loved these blocks...

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Wonderful wooden blocks for multitasking kids

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Petit Collage here at CMP. It’s also no secret that we think wooden blocks are an absolutely perfect gift for occasions of all kinds and children of all ages. But when the two combine? Well, to say we’re excited would be an understatement. The new Safari Jumble from Petit Collage is a set of wooden animal blocks, a brainteaser puzzle, and stylish bedroom décor all rolled into one. Talk about multitasking. Nine wooden animals fit together just-so in a small wooden tray (don’t worry, the animal outlines are laser-etched right onto the tray,...

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New blocks on the block: awesome LEGO alternatives to get kids building

We’re not saying you need to leggo your LEGO (like your kids would ever let that happen). We’re huge LEGO fans! But this holiday season, we just want you to know about some really cool alternative building systems out there that’ll get little hands playing and little minds working. As a bonus, some of these blocks and things are a little softer than LEGO bricks. Which might matter to you if you have a knack for stomping on them barefoot, like I do. Just sayin’. Like wooden blocks gone through a major makeover, Twig blocks come in vibrant colors and cool...

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A natural wooden puzzle that let kids play with fire…and water, earth and air.

This is the time of year that my kids become obsessed with games, puzzles and any activity that can keep their attention without them having to be outside in our freezing cold weather. Usually for Christmas I stock up on a little new inventory of things like natural wooden puzzles so that we’re not running out of options. And now this set from long-time favorite toy shop, Natural Pod, is on my must-have list. This children’s natural wooden puzzle introduces your children to the wonders of the four elements. Earth, fire, water and air are represented by a cave, flames,...

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