Browsing Tag

toys

EDUCATION

With Cubetto, kids learn how to code without a screen

Last night, I pledged a Kickstarter campaign that reached its funding code in 17 hours! Now, the makers of Cubetto hope to stretch their goal further in order to develop sooner than expected more maps and more stories for their wooden programmable robot. As I’m writing this, the third wave of early bird price is still available.

Cubetto combines Montessori learning principles with computer programming concepts inspired by LOGO Turtle. Continue Reading

FAMILY

Toys I love: Schleich Trucks

schleich expedition truck with driver

Schleich is known for their figurines. I like them for their trucks. Last year, we bought the farm truck with the trailer at the Biodome gift shop. My son played with them all the time. He enjoys removing and putting back the doors, the wheels, the roof and the trailer sides. I wanted to get another Schleich truck since we were so happy it with them. We bought this brown stripes Safari truck yesterday. He likes it a lot. He brought his new truck next to his bed before going to bed last night. This is the closest that he is allowed to bring toys at bedtime. Continue Reading

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

BABY products FAMILY

Holiday Gift Guide: What to Give to a Two-Year-Old

holiday gift guide for toddlers

This guide is made of things that my 20-month-old son already has and plays with everyday. These educational toys are sure bet for little boys and girls.

Ok, the first item is not a toy but this Woodours melamine cup was too adorable for not include it on my guide. The Woodours collection (literally “Wood-Bear”) tells the story of a Papa and Baby Bear. Papa is strong as an oak tree, but a gentle soul. Woodours combines the best of teddy-bear cuddliness with a modern flair. I not only like the design but also the story between it. I bought his Woodours cup by Ebulobo at Faon on Saint-Denis Street.

Look for the 2+ years old version of Play-Doh. Initially, I bought him a My First Crayola Super Soft Dough Shape and Create Kit that includes 8 animal shape cutters, 3 cutting tools and a dough extruder pump. The accessories are awesome but the Crayola dough dries too quickly. The Play-Doh dough is definitely easier to manipulate. Playing with dough has become one of his favorite games. He likes to play with us or by himself.

The Puzzle Duo collection by Djeco is awesome. Each box of these two-piece puzzles are designed around a theme. They teach toddlers vocabulary and notions as they develop their fine dexterity. Zack has À table!, which is no longer available. I plan to by him the Habitat set. For 3 years old, Djeco makes Puzzle Trio. Zack has also have one. Right now, he plays more with the Duo. The puzzle comes in a nice box. My son have fun emptying and putting the pieces back in the box. Available at Renaud-Bray. I bought mine at Educa-jeux at Place Ville-Marie.

My son has several packs of First Builders by Mega Bloks. Having a kit with wheels open new creations for him. The more he plays with them, the more unique and complex his structures become. Personally, I prefer the Mega Bloks to the Lego DUPLO. Both have the same educational and fun values.

We bought him a B. Meowsic Keyboard a month ago. Zack likes to sing in the microphone that amplifies his voice and makes music with the keyboard. We bought ours at PinkiBlue in Montreal.

Lastly, I must mention again his Hippo Zoo backpack. I bought it when he started daycare. The backpack plays an important part of his daily routine. He carries it with him on our way in or out of daycare. When I forgot to put it next to the car seat, I am quickly reminded that he wants to be able to touch his backpack. I prefer that he carries outside the home a backpack than his cuddly night buddy.

You probably noticed that some items are from French companies. I have no problems finding them in Montreal. I am not sure how widely available they would be in your area. Some products might be available at Amazon. Still, I shared them because of their aesthetics. You might look for similar items that are easier to buy in your area. Happy holiday shopping!

 

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 KIDS rooms

gleePEEPS collection by Polkaros

gleepeeps pouffes

gleepeeps pouffes

As soon as I laid my eyes on the totem made of gleePEEPS pouffes, I was hooked. I want the gleePEEPS pouffes and character bolster cushions to become my son’s friends. They could join him in his bedroom and be invited in my living room from time to time.

gleePEEPS are the creations of Singapore-born lifestyle product designer Ros Lee. She lives and works in Japan since 2005.

chapstick holder

Ros sells some of her creations at her online store, Polkaros. Another fun product that Ros made is her cute animal Chapstick holders. She offered free shipping worldwide! I only wish that they were clip-ons.

SOURCING:
+ photos: Works by Polkaros
+ Chapstick holder $15 USD at Polkaros