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.
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.
+ Kidz Gift/Storage Box: Farm to Table + 6 Markers $26 USD at Modern-Twist
+ Kidz Placemats $14-$19 USD at Modern-Twist
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.
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.
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.
+ hörbert MP3 Player, € 239.00
Look at the adorable rock chic doll that I bought this morning for my son Zack. Pax will be a nice addition to his hip and soft doll collection. When I shown him a picture of Pax on my iPhone, he laughed and he appeared to love him. Plus, I got an awesome deal. I bought the last one in stock at half-price at Indigo. I can’t wait to put Pax in my son’s arms.
What sold me Pax is the fact that Woon transformed a couple of quirky little dolls by adding music inside. You safely tuck away your iPod (and I assume your iPhone) or a MP3 player inside the doll’s torso pocket. The doll comes with built-in speakers. As a mom on the go, I love that I can attach Pax to a stroller or my bag.
I bet that little girls would love having Lulu as their friend. Both dolls exhibit a hint of British eccentric flair. I found them absolutely adorable.
+ Pax ou Lulu iPod Doll by Woon
+ click here for the list of retailers
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.
+ DIY Modern Dollhouse from 101 Woonideeen
+ Ikea Expedit Unit, $39.99 USD/$49.99 CAD
If cabin fever has your kids climbing the walls, this cool DIY might be just what they need to make it through another six weeks of winter.
Nikkala at the Crafting Chicks embraced her son’s climbing instinct by building an indoor rock climbing wall for their small playroom. All it takes is a sheet of plywood, colorful climbing holds and basic tools to make this afternoon project.
Best of all, the holds can be rearranged to keep things interesting (and challenging) for kids.
Get complete instructions on the Crafting Chicks blog.
+ DIY Kids Climbing Wall Instructions
+ Climbing Holds, Atomik Climbing Holds, from $19.99 (pack of 10)
+ Via Apartment Therapy
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.
+ Choochoo-stak by Ayu Larasati
Any parent will tell you that toys, books and gear have a way of taking over the home, and that there’s a constant battle to find clutter-busting solutions.
Small and versatile, this puzzle playhouse by Modern Playhouse was created by industrial designer Svend Nielsen with design-savvy, eco-conscious parents in mind. Made from sustainably-sourced natural maple wood, the playhouse assembles (or disassembles) in less than 10 minutes without any tools, so you can set it up for the day and store it away when kids are on to something else.
And since kids have a style their own, Modern Playhouse offers a couple of other models. Though they won’t disassemble quite as quickly as the Puzzle Playhouse, their Circle Playhouse was a finalist for design in the Play category at the 2011 Dwell Modern World awards.
Though they’re built to last for generations, these well-designed playhouses aren’t for everyone’s budget. Modern Playhouse also offers accessories like playhouse furniture sets and sustainable felt storage options.
+ Puzzle Playhouse from Modern Playhouse, $650
LiEr of Ikat Bag is a crafter with an impressive portfolio. This mom of three girls puts her imagination and talent to good use by creating for them awesome role playing games. I am still in awe with her clever airport customs game idea that I spotted earlier today on Ohdeedoh. You have to admire the details of her cardboard suitcases.
Going back to the grocery stores, you can use two of her designs to make your own. First, have a look at her cardboard grocery store. It took her 3 to 4 hours to make it. She made a series of shelves, including a lower cabinet with drawers that goes inside the shop. I love, love it!
For the ones who like to sew, do not miss her blue fabric candy shop. You could make a few modifications to turn it into a take-out restaurant.
I bookmarked Ikat Bag since I am sure that I will share with you more of her playful creations.
+ cardboard luggage and airport customs game by Ikat Bag
+ cardboard grocery shop
+ little blue house (candy shop)
Modern Playhouse will add this November a new model to their collection of wood playhouses. A cool feature is that the maple plywood playhouse will require no tools for assembly. Being sensible to the fact that many urban parents (like me) simply do not have the space to keep a playhouse in permanence, the emerging industrial designer Svend Nielsen designed the Puzzle House to be set up for a day of play. When kids are ready to go to bed, it can be stored under the bed or inside a closet.
Furniture and a puppet theater curtain set will be launched before the Holidays. I am looking forward to see it all.
+ Puzzle House by Modern Playhouse – Price to be released
The Dutch designer and dad Floris Hovers presented Flessenboot at this year Milan Furniture Fair. It is a sailboat toy kit that comes with a colored sail, mast and rudder. You supply the empty shampoo bottle on which you will strap the other elements.
Hovers got the idea while watching his daughters play with bottles in the bath and the memory of a toy boat he created on the spot six or seven years ago on a camping trip to entertain little boys playing by a river. I got the impression that you can purchase the kit directly from him but you are better to ask a friend fluent in Dutch to check his Web site.
+ Flessenboot by Floris Hovers
+ via Moco Loco
I was surprised when I read this article from The New York Times by the spread of high-end, custom playhouse makers. I would have never imagined building a playhouse with air conditioning, a kitchen with running water and a 32-inch flat TV on the second floor. The article clearly depicts the world of the rich and super rich niche.
But more than that, the article made me realized that the playhouse market is not only parents but also for grandparents who wish to provide their grandchildren with the best entertainment. For example, it makes perfect sense for a family gathering place on a lake. And the best thing is that the family members can pitch in (money and/or labor) to build a fun play zone for the kids.
Modern Style Playhouses
Personally, I would pick a modern style for my son like the ones made by Smart Playhouse. I like the clean, airy lines of the Illinois model with its eight large windows.
The Hobikken playhouse model is available in three sizes: mini, junior and maxi. It becomes a playroom outside your home.
+ Child’s Play, Grown-Up Cash from The New York Times
+ Illinois model from Smart Playhouse $12,485, including interior lighting
+ Hobikken playhouse by Smart Playhouse