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GAMES and Toys

FAMILY GAMES and Toys

I Want: DIY Play Kitchen for a Boy

play kitchen for a boy

My husband can vouch how much I am dreaming about a play kitchen for our son. Most play kitchens on the market are too girly or won’t nicely fit in our home design. Which is why I want to create my own. I found my starting point for inspiration.

Ethan’s mom Becky designed a fabulous play kitchen for his little boy. Her DIY play kitchen is full on details and realistic functionalities. A magnet keeps the oven door closed while a motion sensor light turns on when the door is opened. Awesome! Continue Reading

FAMILY GAMES and Toys

Kids Can Make their Toys Do Things with ATOMS Building Blocks

atoms express toys Michael Rosenblatt

Technology seems to be a recurring theme today. This time, I like to talk a cool project that was funded via Kickstarter. ATOMS Express  Toys is a new electronics construction set that enable kids to make all sorts of cool stuff within 5 minutes of taking ATOMS out of the box. As a parent, I prefer activities that help develop creative ideas and enable children to learn as they play.  The ATOMS “plug and play” smart blocks are designed to do that. Continue Reading

FAMILY GAMES and Toys

Qubis Haus: from a coffee table to a dollhouse

qubis haus used a coffee table

qubis haus from dollhouse to coffee table
Qubis Haus by Amy Whitworth £400 (approx. $650 USD as we speak) at Southbank Centre.

One thing about young kid toys is that they tend to overtake your living room. Parents often wonder where to hide them when their kids doesn’t play with them.  Amy Whitworth addresses this issue with her Qubis Haus.  She brought dual purpose furniture to a new height by designing a coffee table that transforms into a dollhouse with the simple addition of sliding panels made from wood and perspex. As a bonus, you or your kids can update the space layout by changing where the sliding panels go. Amy Whitworth won Boost 2012, a mentoring and development program organized by Southbank Centre’s design shop, with that design.

magnetic oak furniture set for qubis haus
Qubis Bedroom Set £35 by Amy Whitworth Design.

Since no dollhouse would be complete without furniture, Amy Whitworth created three furniture sets: a bedroom set, a living room set and a dining room set. Made of magnetic oak wood, you assemble the furniture using the wooden blocks in each set. Fabric accessories further decorate the rooms. For example, the dining room set contains 1 table, 4 chairs, 1 side board, 1 lamp, 3 sets of table legs, 1 plant pot, spare blocks for creating, 1 table cloth, 1 rug, and 1 pouf. I like the fact that it promotes creativity.

qubis haus used a coffee table

Qubis Haus seems pricey if you look at it from a dollhouse viewpoint. You can take comfort in the idea that it is more than a dollhouse and that it has a second life after your kids stopped playing with a dollhouse. Personally, I prefer the coffee table with one or two acrylic sheets. If it was in my living room, I would use the shelves to display way more than miniature mid-century icon furniture.

FAMILY GAMES and Toys

Three DIY Toys that You Can Do with Your Kids

french postal truck toy

cupcake or ice cream truck
photo: cupcake or ice cream truck by Martine Camillieri

Crafting projects let you pass quality time with your kids. I wanted a project that I could do for my boy, who adore trucks. I found three project ideas fron France that repurpose things that you have at home.

french postal truck toy
photo: La Poste, French postal truck by Martine Camillieri

The first idea is from Martine Camillieri. This french woman has been transforming cleaning product containers into cars and trucks since 2007. Her upcycling creations appeared in a book and many exhibits over the years. Although she failed to provide tutorials to make your own, it seems that she affixed two caps to make wheels and used stickers and paint to decorate the vehicles. It is definitely a project that you can do with your kids.

diy pickup truck toy
photo: DIY pick-up truck toy by Martine Camillieri

The second idea is from a limited-print series called Bolides. I encourage you to explore your own boxy style. After a few trial and error, you could design your own templates. I would use mashi tape to create the various car or truck elements. Washi tapes come in a variety of colors and it is easy to reposition them. Cut a straw in two to support the wheels.

bolides

You could make your own paper tipi toy. Let your kids create their own patterns. Each tipi stands tall with 3 sticks.

make your own paper tipi toy
photo: Tipis by Morse

These are not toys that are designed to last. Nonetheless, they are fun to make. If you want to keep them longer, you could always tell your kids that they are making art pieces for their playroom.

FAMILY GAMES and Toys

Zack’s New Cardboard Playhouse

cardboard playhouse

my son playing in his indoor playhouse

You know that you have a great toy when you see smiles on your kid’s face. Zack is at an age where kids are constantly on the move. He likes to get in and out of the doors of his new playhouse, sit for a moment, look by the many windows, decorate the interior with furniture. Today, we coloured some walls and we played peek-a-boo while he was inside the playhouse. He laughed so loud! Like one credit card company would say, these moments are priceless!

cardboard playhouse
sourcing: My Pretty Playhouse $34.99 at Cascades

My Impressions as a Parent

My Pretty Playhouse is made in Canada of 100% recycled cardboard recovered in Canada and in the United States. The playhouse comes flat in a box. Make sure to keep the packaging. You can reuse it to store the pieces when you don’t use the playhouse.

The assembly went smoothly. The instructions say that it requires two persons for assembly  It’s true that having an extra pair of hands is helpful. If you are alone, my guess is that you could be able to use a corner wall as a support for assembling the two wall sections; that is the only time where being two persons is handy. My husband and I did it in 5 minutes. Zack was so excited to see the playhouse that he was always in our way.

As many urban parents with young children, our play room is a dedicated area in our living room. I like the fact that the playhouse is not too big. A few kids will have no problem to sit inside. I sit with him inside the house and there is a little bit of space left.

pretend play

You could win your Pretty Playhouse by entering before Monday, October 22nd, 2012 noon.

Disclosure: Cascades gave me the cardboard playhouse for me to test. I shared my experience with the playhouse because my son truly enjoyed it. 

FAMILY GAMES and Toys

Kim Loves: Permafrost Wooden Toys

permafrost wooden toys for the nordic identity exhibition

permafrost wooden toys for the nordic identity exhibition
photography by Johan Holmquist

These toys caught my eye the moment I spotted them at MoCo Loco. I love the shapes and how you can assemble the various elements of this industrial platform. The colours even matched my son’s bedroom. I wish that I could buy these superbly modern wooden toys for my little boy.

I also wish that they were more toys like these on the market. Young kids need to be surrounded with beautifully designed, eye-pleasing products. I strongly believe that good design should be a part of their education.

permafrost wooden toys

They are the contribution that Norwegian design studio Permafrost for the New Nordic – Architecture and Identity exhibition at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Danemark. The exhibition explores if they is still a Nordic identity today. Learn more about this fabulous project on Permafrost blog.

FAMILY GAMES and Toys

Alphabet Animals, Farm to Table and Farm Buddies Kidz Box and Placemats

modern-twist farm buddies :: alphabet animals and farm to table placemats

modern-twist farm buddies :: alphabet animals and farm to table placemats

I am counting the months until my son could use those. I have been a fan of the Kidz Box since they were launched by Modern-Twist. They added new drawings that are better than ever for a young child. Alphabet Animals or Farm Buddies could be his first ones since he is familiar with the topics.

Overall, it is Farm to Table that won my heart because it teaches kids where their food comes from. You can either buy the placemats separately or a gift box that includes a set of markers. Grow your collection with time by simply buying more doodle-friendly Kidz placemats. Their  selection provides various styles to suit the kid’s taste, gender and age.

kidz placemats

Artistic, Practical and Eco-Friendly

You will not run out of paper when you eat at restaurant or visit a friend if you carry a couple with you. When the kid has finished colouring, take a picture of their art with your phone before you clean it with a wipe, a damp cloth or rinse. Kids can color the Kidz placemats as often as they want. As a parents, you feel good knowing that you save paper.

SOURCING:
+ Kidz Gift/Storage Box: Farm to Table + 6 Markers $26 USD at Modern-Twist
+ Kidz Placemats $14-$19 USD at Modern-Twist

FAMILY GAMES and Toys

Vintage-Inspired MP3 Player for Kids

vintage mp3 player kids music

Most kids don’t have any difficulty finding their way around tech devices, yet we probably wouldn’t let them out of sight with our phones or tablets.

Handcrafted from non-toxic wood and materials in Germany, this modern music box – hörbert – has all the functionality of an MP3 player combined with the charm of a vintage toy, yet it’s tough enough to withstand life with kids.

vintage mp3 player kids music

Since small children can’t read, 9 buttons on the front encourage them to explore different sounds and content via color. Old school switch and volume controls are easy for small fingers to grasp.

A secure back panel houses a 2 GB memory card, batteries and any necessary wiring – no cords or cables for little hands to disconnect, or little mouths to chew on.

vintage mp3 player kids music buttons

hörbert can also be personalized for gift giving with custom wood engraving on the front, and is a lovely way to promote some music appreciation among the little ones in your life.

SOURCING:
+ hörbert MP3 Player, € 239.00

FAMILY GAMES and Toys

DIY Dollhouse with Ikea Expedit

diy modern dollhouse ikea expedit

diy modern dollhouse ikea expedit

They may have fallen somewhat out of fashion, but dollhouses are one of those sweet vintage-y children’s toys that always look at home in a little girl’s room. Unfortunately, old-fashioned dollhouses tend to be large and, when kids outgrow them, a pain to store and even pass on to others.

We loved this easy DIY version spotted on the Dutch blog 101 Woonideeen, which uses a small Ikea Expedit unit and wallpaper to create a modern version that doesn’t sacrifice charm. Not only is the unit sized perfectly for play, you can customize the look to coordinate with the décor in your child’s room with a vibrant wallpaper, removable decals or even just a different shade of paint on the wall. Best of all, the unit easily returns to its original purpose as a bookshelf or storage unit once your wee one outgrows her dollhouse.

The full instructions are written in Dutch, but the project is so straightforward you probably won’t need them. As we posted this, I noticed that their Website doesn’t respond today. It is good that you couldn’t read the instructions anyway. Let’s hope that their site will be back soon.

SOURCING:
+ DIY Modern Dollhouse from 101 Woonideeen
+ Ikea Expedit Unit, $39.99 USD/$49.99 CAD

FAMILY GAMES and Toys

Choochoo-stak by Ayu Larasati

Choochoo-stak by Ayu Larasati

Choochoo-stak by Ayu Larasati

Choochoo-stak is a prototype that Ayu Larasati created as her graduate thesis project. She analyzed what is going in a kindergarten classroom with the aim to improve the tidy-up task by making it a more fun experience for the kids.

Her solution integrates play and chores into one activity that goes hand-in-hand. Choochoo-stak functions as a free-standing shelf, a table, a seating area and a ride on toy and during tidy-up time, all the carts can be connected for ease of collecting play materials. For its multi-function capabilities, I believe that many urban parents would welcome a Choochoo-stak in their home.

Ayu Larasati will present one of her project at the Prototype exhibit of IDS 12.

SOURCING:
+  Choochoo-stak by Ayu Larasati