5 Green Products: Geeky Projects, Endangered Species, Nutrition, Organic Toys

1. Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred: Seriously Geeky Stuff to Make with Your Kids:  Seriously Geeky Stuff to Make With Your Kids by David Erik Nelson

My nine-year-old is a scientist!  She loves to experiment and build, and the internet has been a great resource for her explorations. Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred: Seriously Geeky Stuff to Make with Your Kids is right up her alley.

Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred is packed with fun craft and toy-making projects for geeks on a budget. Inside, you’ll find illustrated instructions for 24 quirky playthings. Part I: Kid Stuff contains child-friendly projects like the Lock-N-Latch Treasure Chest and a PVC TeePee; Part II: The Electro-Skiffle Band is devoted to homemade musical instruments; and Part III: The Locomotivated showcases moving toys, like a muzzleloader that shoots marshmallows and a steam-powered milk-carton boat.

Each project costs just $10 or less to make and is suitable for anyone, regardless of experience level. As you build, you’ll learn useful sewing and carpentry skills, and the appendix offers a primer on electronics and soldering.

Not only is this book filled with great ideas, these projects are a wonderful way to spend quality time with your children.

I do have to warn green parents to use caution when approaching these projects.  For example, I would not use PVC to make a didgeridoo, let alone burn it. I can only imagine the toxins this would give off.  There are plenty of other projects, like NASA’s Finest Paper Airplane that are perfectly non-toxic.

Would I buy this product? No. $14.46 is a reasonable price for this book, but I am not sure I would actually use this book enough to justify the expense. I also have concern with the toxicity of some of the materials.

2. Cahootie Animal Planet Endangered Creatures

Cootie catchers are always popular with children. I fondly remember making them and creating different fortunes for the flaps.  Animal Planet has taken advantage of children’s love for cootie catchers to teach about endangered species:

Endangered Creatures Cahootie: You love animals and they love you. Come play Cahootie and learn all about the planet’s endangered creatures while you have a blast with wild, wacky questions and super cool fortunes. As you get to know these awesome animals better, remember our planet’s future is in your hands.

  • Encourages creativity and stimulates intellectual skill development – also promotes self-discovery and empowering conversation
  • 40 removable and interchangeable stickers with fun fortunes and thought-provoking questions all about your love of animals
  • Made of pre-folded, laminated paper with bold, colorful graphics

I find the laminated paper to be difficult to play, and it makes a weird squeaking sound. The images and information on the reusable stickers is great for teaching children, and I am all for teaching kids about endangered species, but I see this as a toss away toy.

This is one of those products that irks me because conservation is vital for species preservation, yet this product is not made from recycled materials and is overpackaged.

Proceeds from its sales goes to Animal Planet’s R.O.A.R. project, which I commend, but I also get suspicious when companies make it seem like they are donating to environmental groups, but it is their own group that receives the proceeds.  R.O.A.R may do great things, but I think a certain amount of transparency is lacking.

Would I buy this product?  No. As I mentioned above, there isn’t much that is eco-friendly about it, but it is a good idea if you want to inspire your child to learn more about endangered species with a cootie catcher.  It would be very easy to make your own cootie catcher, print images of endangered species off the internet, and write interesting facts inside the flaps.  Involving your child in building their very own endangered species cootie catcher would be a great do-it-yourself project, and they would probably learn more.

3. Eat This And Live For Kids by Don Colbert, MD

I used to think it was easy to feed children healthy food by only offering them healthy choices.  I still believe this, but my two children have taught me it is not quite as simple as I thought.  My first child is a great eater. She tries new foods and eats a rainbow of color everyday with ease. My second child is more resistant to trying new foods.  He will often not even taste dinner and chose an apple instead. This is still a healthy choice, but I hate to admit it, sometimes he grabs himself a bowl of cereal after dinner (of course, it is organic and not sugary).

Eat This And Live For Kids is user-friendly with an appealing layout. It is full of information from toxins in food to what to avoid eating when pregnant.

Dr. Don Colbert provides a road map to help parents navigate the often-treacherous territory of feeding their children, from infants to toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary aged children…

Included are picks of the healthiest “kid-friendly” food items in your grocery store and many popular fast food and casual dining restaurants. As a result, this is an extremely practical guidebook that teaches parents how to help their children adopt a dietary lifestyle that will set him or her on lifelong path of well-being.  The goal is not to make eating a chore for your child or more work on the parent’s part, but to enable the exchange of old habits for new ones.

I love that Dr. Colbert says “Water is the single most important nutrient for our bodies.”  In my opinion, learning to be a water drinker starts young. We don’t serve juice or milk in my preschool program for this reason, and parents are encouraged to provide children with reusable water bottles.  Thankfully, Dr. Colbert also exposes bottled water for what it is:  full of toxins, less-regulated than tap, and often just filtered water from sources like the Detroit River (Aquafina).

Would I buy this product? Maybe.  It’s affordable at $7.15, and I really wanted to dislike it.  It’s part of a whole series and marketing for Dr. Colbert’s The Seven Pillars of Health. In fact, it is promoted as a “practical guidebook for parents includes ‘Dr. Colbert Approved’ foods and restaurant menu choices”.  As much as I am annoyed by such name recognition marketing efforts, this book really is filled with great information for those trying to improve their health and leave the Standard American Diet behind.

4. Giraffe Bamboo Zoo and Organic Cotton Snowman Soft Shaker Toy

These toys are so adorable and soft; they make me wish I had a baby!  Made from bamboo and organic cotton, these are great teethers for your little one.  They are filled with a corn fibers, not polyfill that is made from petroleum.  A further bonus is they are machine washable!

  • The new 9″ giraffe shaker is tall and slender, and easy to grab
  • Rich natural luster and silky soft
  • Stuffed with fluffy natural corn fibers
  • Machine washable, made from bamboo viscose
  • Adorable blue body with sewn eyes and face make it safe for baby

Dandelion Earth-Friendly Goods makes great affordable toys for children. I’ve been pleased with every product we have reviewed by the company.

Smart parents are more concerned than ever about what babies touch and teethe, and the Dandelion brand gives you peace of mind. Dandelion offers a sophisticated look while reflecting a back-to-basics, eco-conscious style.

Would I buy these products? Yes!  I trust Dandelion, and I love their products.  They are organic and/or natural, and they are affordable!

5. Great Expectations: Best Food for Your Baby & Toddler: From First Foods to Meals Your Child Will Love by Jeannette L. Bessinger, CHHC

Before opening this book, I thought why would someone need a book on feeding their baby and toddler. In my experience, it was quite simple. Whole foods mashed or cut to appropriate sizes and breastmilk, nothing could be simpler.  It’s been pointed out to me before, that my simple approach does not work for everyone, and if you don’t have a strong basis or knowledge of healthy eating to begin with, then it’s not so easy.

Great Expectations: Best Food for Your Baby & Toddler: From First Foods to Meals Your Child Will Love is packed full of useful information; my previous assumptions were easily dismissed.  My winging it approach to feeding my infants and toddlers worked, but if you really want to make sure you are meeting the dietary needs of your child, this book gives you all the information you need. From dietary requirements for vitamin A at different ages to quick charts on iron-rich foods, there’s a lot to be learned from this book.

To ensure that baby gets the best, most wholesome, and natural food possible, go homemade! The newest entry in the acclaimed Great Expectationsseries focuses on easy preparation of nutritious baby and toddler meals at home—from the first finger-foods to more than 130 delicious kid-tested recipes that will lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating.

The book teaches parents how to select the right food, set up a pantry (with a guide to key kitchen equipment), establish smart eating routines, and introduce a wide variety of tastes and textures. It also explores today’s most pressing nutrition issues: Should you buy only organic food? Is it healthy to restrict a toddler’s calorie intake? Is a vegetarian diet good for a very young child? Additional resources include information on breastfeeding and food allergies, as well as a comprehensive listing of whole foods companies and products that make healthy eating faster and easier.

Of particular interest to me was the section on soy.  With all of the information on the dangers of soy, I have not cut it completely from my diet, as other sources tout the benefits of soy protein.  Bessinger ultimately recommends:

We recommend avoiding concentrated forms of soy, such as soy protein powders and lots of soy milk. The best choices are small amounts of organic tofu, miso paste, tempeh, and tamari.  Older toddlers can also occasionally snack on the baby form of the fresh beans, edamame.

Bessinger also speaks to the concerns of soy-based formulas, including how they contain ten times the aluminum of milk-based formulas and 100 times the level of breast milk.

Would I buy this book? Yes.   It is certainly worth the $10.17 for all of the important information it contains beyond just feeding babies and toddlers.

Disclosure:  The products described above were sent to us as free samples, unless noted differently in the review.  Prior assurances as to the nature of the reviews, whether positive or negative, were not given.  No financial payments were accepted in exchange for the reviews.  The reviews reflect our honest, authentic opinions.

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