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,...Read More
Tag: educational kids’ toys
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....Read More
Here are some of our favorite reads from around the web this week. Hope you like them too. An amazing, kick-ass female athlete won Wimbledon and Kristen wonders why even the big media outlets are body shaming her. (Grrrrr…) Team Serena! Great summer reading ideas from female authors from the NY Time’s KJ Del Antonio. We have Brené Brown’s Rising Strong on our lists too. This week on Spawned: Do kids belong in nail salons? Is working from an office totally outdated? You might not believe who thinks so. Interesting perspective on Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman from Errin Whack of NPR’s Codeswitch that’s...Read More
Little Passports’ new gift subscription now lets younger kids get in on the world travel adventures too.
Even before she had made her first trip out of the country, my daughter loved the subscription her aunt bought her to Little Passports when she was in grade school. Each month, she’d receive a packet of information and little trinkets about a new country that she could tuck safely into her small blue suitcase. If you have younger kids, you may be happy to learn that even they can take a virtual trip around the world now, with Little Passports Early Explorers. It comes with specially designed materials and items for kids between the ages of 3-5, no real passport needed. Or expensive tickets to Egypt or France....Read More
I’ve been fighting boredom this summer with a bunch of magic markers and one really huge (like, seriously huge) and cleverly illustrated coloring poster for kids from a new company called Pirasta. And the beauty of these posters is that there’s room for everyone to get in on the action. The recycled-content paper is sturdy enough to let it take over the dining room table for a while, spread it out at a birthday party, or hang it on the wall. And at a whopping 63″ x 36″there is plenty of room for multiple people to color together. We’ve even rolled up...Read More
It may take special talent and years of study to compose music for a symphony, but we’ve discovered a fun shortcut with Think Fun’s new Compose Yourself, a creative, musical card game which lets kids 6 and up — and even adult neophytes like me — create beautiful music in minutes. You don’t even have to be able to read a note of music. Which is why I like it too. Related: How to foster a love of music in your little kids The system was created by Philip Sheppard, an accomplished composer and musician who has recorded with David Bowie, served as music director...Read More
Whether you call it Autism Awareness or Autism Acceptance like one of my good friends, April is a great month to learn more about autism and how to make our world more supportive to those families living with it. That’s one reason we’ve long supported Creative Kidstuff’s partnership with St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development to identify some of the best playthings for kids with autism. And it is on their special month-long Autism Awareness Celebration Sale page that I discovered a toy that could help kids on and off the autistic spectrum learn and understand more about their moods....Read More
Ever in search for more colorful playthings to brighten up the dreary northeast weather, I am so happy to discover Laughing Crickets, an Etsy shop creating the most beautiful, bright, happy-making handmade toys for kids, with a focus on handmade sorting games. The shop overs brightly beautiful natural sorting games featuring the likes of giraffes, hearts, birds, lady bugs, and rainbow clad peg dolls in their own little wooden beds. Plus, Easter eggs which should be a big hit in the coming weeks.I love that they’re painted with non-toxic paints and finished with natural beeswax and olive oil, by makers who clearly...Read More
I’ve been cleaning up and paring down lately, and that includes some of the wooden blocks my kids got as gifts when they were young. So I started thinking about upcycled wooden blocks craft ideas that might breathe some new life into them. While a fresh coat of paint (with a non-toxic finish!) is an easy fix, there are so many neat ideas out there from talented crafters to help you take those basic wooden blocks your child may have gotten as a baby, and repurpose them to make them fun for toddlers, kindergarteners, or even puzzle-solving big kids. ...Read More
The Mini Life: When you feel like you’ve seen every baby and kid gift out there, here’s where to go.
I’m always happy to introduce you to beautifully-curated independent web boutiques and here’s one more new one that’s caught my attention since its launch just a few weeks ago. Mini Life is an exquisite children’s lifestyle boutique packed full of gorgeous toys, decor, home items and more, all cultivated from around the world. It’s definitely not the kinds of gifts you see in every shop in the mall. Founder Athena Rotolo has a modern sensibility I just love, and if you’ve got little ones to shop for–or maybe, splurge on–then you must look around this exquisite site. Here are just...Read More
23 ideas for fun, educational indoor activities for preschoolers and young kids. Because we need all the ideas we can get!
After the initial “yay, snow!” cheers comes the realization that you now have to come up with educational activities for your preschoolers or kindergarteners, to help keep them busy–and ideally, learning–all day long. And while I totally understand letting PBS air a few more shows than you might normally allow, I also think an unexpected day stuck indoors is a great way to try out new activities that give their brains a workout and help reinforce important skills. It’s the kind of stuff you may not have time to do together on a regular old day. That’s why I’m so pleased...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
If you’re still puzzled (yes, I went there) over what to get some of the kids on your list, keep reading. Whether it is a small wooden puzzle for little hands to manipulate, or something larger and more complex that gets the entire family involved, a well-made puzzle is a great plaything that will never require batteries or a wi-fi connection. And if your kids prefer their play to be more open-ended, we’ve found four options with multiple solutions so that their finished product doesn’t have to look the same way twice. Nene Imagination’s Puzzles Without Borders: Penguins and Friends (shown at top)...Read More
There aren’t many wooden toys for toddlers that I can imagine an older kid would love too, but these super nerdy ABC blocks from Uncommon Goods are a major exception. They’re made from locally sourced wood and printed with non-toxic inks, featuring letters, illustrations, and scientific vocabulary words. They’re safe for toddlers to gnaw on, sturdy enough for preschool architects, and offer such cool reading material that middle schoolers might use them as a study reference for science class. Or hey, maybe your kindergartner will wow her teacher with talk of buckyballs and the water cycle. It’s never too...Read More
If your kids get as excited as mine when they get something in the mailbox, then check out this adorable and free printable mailbox from TinyMe that will let you send and receive notes from your kids anytime, no stamp required. This printable craft looks like it could be completed while kids are at preschool, or maybe even during naptime if your kids’ nap longer than mine ever did. If you have two kids, they can each have their own mailbox as there is an all-red version and a red-and-blue version to assemble. And siblings can even write to each other that...Read More
Okay, so maybe my eight-year-old daughter already knows how to use a coffee maker. And maybe she has her own hand-painted Goblet of Fire mug, in which she begs for a sip of the steaming hot ambrosia of morning. But still, what if I’d gotten her started even earlier with cappuccino? That’s why this adorable wooden Babyccino Machine from Djeco at Little Citizens Boutique is so brilliant. Forget the wooden birthday cakes and felt donuts and give my future barista a cappuccino maker toy as pretty as it is fun that comes with real working parts, just like a Nescafe machine....Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More
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...Read More