This is your brain on princess [video]

This is your brain on engineering. Any questions?

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 4.13.01 PM

[Read more...]

Phthalates in Toys: Banned Chemicals Exposure Declines While Others Increase

150 percent increase in DiNP exposure as it replaces the most harmful phthalates

The good news is exposure to the banned phthalates has gone down; however, exposure to their replacement phthalates has increased at alarming rates.

The good news is exposure to the banned phthalates has gone down; however, exposure to their replacement phthalates has increased at alarming rates.

[Read more...]

A clever cardboard Christmas

I’ve always been delighted by the fact that small children are often more interested in the empty cardboard boxes that the toys came in than the all singing all dancing toy itself

A clever cardboard Christmas

A clever cardboard Christmas

[Read more...]

Tips for Helping Your Children Give Away Old Clothes and Toys

Flip2BFit Game Combines Strength, Cardio, Yoga, & Stretching: Reduce Childhood Obesity, Have Fun, Maintain a Happy, Healthy Lifestyle

Flip2BFit Game Combines Strength, Cardio, Yoga, & Stretching:  Reduce Childhood Obesity, Have Fun, Maintain a Happy, Healthy LifestyleWe all want our kids to be healthy.  We feed them healthy foods.  Yet, unfortunately our society is rather sedentary.  Kids sit at school. They come home and sit at screens or with gadgets.   Gone are the days when kids ran outside until their parents called them in at dark.

Soccer may be popular, but why not play games that promote a happy, healthy lifestyle by combining strength, cardio, yoga, and stretching?  Flip2BFit is an eco-friendly game that does just that!

[Read more...]

My New Favorite Eco-Friendly Toy: Larsen Toy Lab Building Bridges Wooden Blocks

larsen toy lab blocksI think that all children should have lots of blocks!  It is really the only toy they need with their imagination as the only limitation.

Just like sewing clothes for my babies, I always envisioned I would make wooden blocks for them.  We have made some Citiblocs style blocks to expand the set we were sent for review.  What I envisioned was more what I have just discovered from a new toy company that thanks to Kickstarter is in business!

Larsen Toy Lab is founded on the idea of creating a book series and puzzles, around wooden blocks to promote critical thinking. I am so excited about these toys!

[Read more...]

Natural Easter Egg Dyeing Made Easy: Eco-Eggs Egg Coloring Kit

eco-eggsTwo years ago, I tried dyeing eggs naturally.  I had experience coloring wool with natural dyes with much success, so I was not worried about the eggs.  Unfortunately, our naturally colored eggs were a disaster full of disappointment.

This year, I am excited to try the Eco-Eggs Easter Egg Coloring Kit by Eco-Kids.

Sticking to the basics is natural for us. eco-eggs coloring kit™ is an original in the market of made in the USA natural egg coloring kits. Comes with 3 primary color powder packs and a color chart to create 6 custom colors, a crayon for texturing your eggs and a custom egg dipper made right here in Maine. Under the exterior wrap you’ll find our exclusive creature cut outs to dress up your eggs. Please visit fun stuff on our website for printable activity sheets, more creature cutouts and how-to videos.

Made with natural and organic fruit, plant and vegetable extracts from annatto seed, curcumin, purple sweet potato and red cabbage. Includes color chart and instructions.

[Read more...]

Made in the USA Last Minute Stocking Stuffers: Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty

snow angelKids love tactile toys. They love goop.  They love to stretch and squish and form shapes.  Add sparkles, and putty becomes irresistible.  Sure there is traditional Silly Putty; however, Crazy Aaron has reinvented it for the 21st century in many unique colors and shimmers.

We were sent Crazy Aaron’s Snow Angels Thinking Putty to try. My kids immediately split it in half, as they both were enthralled with it.

With over 30 amazing colors, this is one ball of fun as a toy, stress ball, or therapy putty

  • Thinking Putty is non-toxic and non-gooey, it is the ultimate toy for kids and adults

  • Available in super Illusions, Putty Creatures, Glow in the Darks, Heat Sensitive’s and more!

  • Thinking Putty can bounce, shatter, and stretch; Great for science and learning at home or school

  • Thinking putty can be used in the office for stress relief or during creative brainstorming

  • Can be used as therapy putty to assist with fine motor skills, arthritis, ligament injuries, etc.

[Read more...]

2 Red Hens Toy Nanny: Is it a blanket? Is it a toy tote? It’s BOTH!

It can be challenging going from play dates to visiting relatives to home with a baby.  When my kids were little, I would stuff a backpack with toys and a blanket, as you never knew what you would need when you are a busy mom with a little one on the go.  A clean blanket is essential, as you want to protect your child from dirty floors or pet hair or a lawn outside.  Toys, of course, are necessary for play so mom can enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while visiting.

2 Red Hens Studio Toy Nanny is a unique item that doubles as both a play mat and a fashionable toy tote:

  • The most ingenious thing to hit the baby market since disposable diapers!
  • This floor blanket quickly cinches up into a toy tote
  • 8 mesh pockets to keep small pieces in place
  • Soft velour interior and water resistant back
  • Hauling toys from Grandmas, to play dates, to the back yard has never been easier

Well, I don’t find disposable diapers ingenious, and I actually take offense at that part of the product description.  I also wish the fabrics were more eco-friendly.

[Read more...]

11 Classic, Retro Toys

It can be challenging navigating all of the gift giving options for children.  Every year, new toys come out, but rarely do any of them become new classics.

[Read more...]

Worst Toy of the Year!

Every year, the Campaign for a Commerical-Free Childhood (CCFC) selects several toys for the TOADY award. Readers vote on which toy is the worst toy of the year. This year’s winner is the Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Apptivity Monkey.

“The TOADY voting reflects growing resistance to the toy industry’s cynical attempts to foist screens of every conceivable size and shape onto infants,” said CCFC’s Director, Dr. Susan Linn. “Screen-free stuffed animals have been a source of comfort to young children and a springboard for creative play for generations. The Apptivity Monkey is a textbook example of more being considerably less.”

Fisher-Price markets the Apptivity Monkey as “the best of both worlds for baby—a soft, cuddly friend to hold and hug, plus fun interactive learning with your iPhone or iPod touch!” There is no evidence, however, that screen media is educational for children under 30 months. CCFC’s ongoing efforts to hold the “genius baby” industry accountable for its deceptive educational claims led Disney to offer a groundbreaking refund on Baby Einstein videos in 2009 and to alandmark judgment by the Federal Trade Commission against the makers of the video series Your Baby Can Read earlier this year. The push to convince parents that screen time is educational for babies—and the packaging of a screen device inside a stuffed animal—are what propelled the Apptivity Monkey to outpace its formidable competition.

[Read more...]

The Good and the Bad on Gender Specific Toys

Thanksgiving is over, and the holiday season is in full swing. As parents and grandparents search for quality gifts for the youngsters, the topic of gender specific clothes and toys is sure to arise in some families.

Don’t give my daughter that Bride Barbie Doll, give her a bulldozer was my mantra when she was a toddler.  Actually, I preferred wooden blocks, but you can only have so many.

Until I had both a son and a daughter, I did not really believe in gender differences. I thought they were largely cultural, which they are. Although there are aspects of our culture that I want to protect my children from, such as the commericialization of childhood, there are aspects of our culture that we cannot deny and are not necessarily harmful in the right context.

[Read more...]

Green, Eco-Friendly Toys: Once Upon a Treehouse

Eco-friendly dollThe story behind Once Upon a Treehouse reminds me of my own childhood.  Started  by two sisters who recalled their childhood wooden dollhouse built by their grandfather, I recall the beautiful dollhouse my grandfather built for my sister, which I coveted.  Not many grandfathers today are building wooden dollhouses, so we need eco-friendly, fair trade committed companies like Once Upon a Treehouse to provide this classic toy for this generation.

We were sent a Petunia doll to play with:

  • Petunia wears her black hair braided with a pretty pink ribbon. She is dressed in pink leggings, floral tunic accented with a pink belt.
  • 4” high
  • All dolls are eco-friendly having cotton faces & hands, wool hair, wooden feet and heads stuffed with wool. No plastic is used.
  • All faces are hand painted, so no doll is exactly alike.
  • Recommended for 3+ yrs
  • Handmade in Latvia, Europe

[Read more...]

U.S. PIRG Trouble in Toyland 2012: Don’t give dangerous toys this holiday season

As consumers, we assume that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is doing their job testing products and ensuring our children’s safety.  Unfortunately, the task is larger than the organization can handle, and toxic, dangerous toys, mostly manufactured cheaply in foreign countries, riddle the store shelves.  As parents and grandparents hunt for bargains, unbeknownst to them they are exposing their children to toxic heavy metals like lead and cadmium, choking hazards, such as magnets, and toxic plastic chemicals like phthalates.

For the 27th year, U.S. PIRG has released Trouble in Toyland.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Toys with high levels of toxic substances are still on store shelves. We found toys which contained phthalates, as well as toys with lead content above the 100 parts per million limit.
  • Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under three, we found toys available in stores that still pose choking hazards.
  • We also found toys that are potentially harmful to children’s ears and exceed the noise standards recommended by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
  • We discovered small powerful magnets that pose a dangerous threat to children if swallowed.

[Read more...]