Category: stocking stuffer

Totally Cute Lacing Toys

By , February 7, 2008 9:31 pm

Weekly Toy Recommendation:

I once recommended one of our favorite travel toys, this wooden lacing block. But I recently stumbled upon these two adorable little wooden lacing blocks that might also be fun for little ones! You have a choice between the Apple or the Beehive.

Little fingers love to thread laces in and out of holes, or simply explore the holes with fingers alone. The wooden “needle” is firmly attached to the block by the thick lace so it can’t be lost or easily used as a weapon against sister (although I am sure some might try, I know my son has).

Of course lacing toys promote the development of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Plus kids just find them fun!

These two little ones are made by the same manufacturer as our very sturdy block that has now made it to child number three after a very hard life in the car/restaurant toy bag. So hopefully this model will prove to be as durable.

One point to consider: Although they seem like high quality toys, until I see evidence to the contrary, my guess is that they are probably made in China. If the paint makes you nervous, then I would urge you to consider our less cute original one that is natural wood (except for the lacing needle which is painted). I’ll put in a link below.

You can also find some slightly more expensive, but very nice lacing toys made in Europe or the US by searching through some of the Unplugged Toystores. For example, here is a cute ladybug made in Poland, or an apple (with attached needle) made with “food-grade” materials.

NOTE: I have to add this extremely cute lacing squirrel I just found!! – Made in Lithuania

Happy lacing!

Haba Knitting Mushroom

By , December 14, 2007 12:29 pm

I had one of these as a child and just loved it. Even my mother had one as a child! My daughter has had one since the age of six and enjoys hers too.

This easy-to-use knitting contraption lets children simply knit long “snakes” that can be coiled and sewn together to make any number of projects.

There is something so calming and zen-like about knitting and this is a great way to introduce this calming activity to your children. Plus you the parent can also experience peace of mind because, although there are less-expensive plastic versions of this out there, this one is made of wood in Germany by well-respected European toy-maker .

I have also found that it makes a wonderful travel activity since it is very small, light, and easily packable in a carry-on toy/activity bag. It would fit in a Christmas stocking too!

Are the “snakes” piling up with no purpose? Then here is also a link to a great book that has lots of fun and easy craft ideas for using all these little “snakes.”

Zigity (a Cranium game)

By , December 1, 2007 9:06 pm

We had a family game night tonight with a card game (by Cranium) that my 7 year-old daughter got last Christmas from a friend. It is a game that we had not really focused on before.

Zigity is such a cool card game! It is supposed to be for ages 8 to adult, but my 5 year-old, 7 year-old and two adults played happily together without problem (the 5 year-old enjoyed it, but needed some assistance though).

The play is a bit like Crazy 8’s or Uno, but instead of just matching cards, players must complete certain puzzles at each turn. Puzzles involve either matching images, completing a visual puzzle, forming words, or adding numbers.

It is really quite educational and fun (and challenging) for adults too! Always a HUGE plus in my book. The cards are made of a transparent plastic which adds to the “wow factor.”

This is a game that is very unpredictable. It involves just the right proportions of skill, strategy and luck to make it interesting and fun for all ages. A player with one card left really has just as much chance of winning (ie. getting rid of all their cards) as one with 6 cards left!

If kids can’t spell simple words yet or do addition, then they will need some help. But we had no problem playing with my kindergarten-aged son. I just looked at his cards and helped him when he needed it. And once, he actually beat us all!

I highly recommend this card game. It would even make a great stocking stuffer, which is always nice.

Kaloo Doudou – Very Soft French Lovey

By , November 8, 2007 8:29 pm

None of my children has ever had a favorite lovey until my youngest. She has “Doudou” (baby French for “lovey”). This cute little green bunny in the photo. Other colors and animals are available, but I chose to feature my daughter’s special “Doudou.”

Santa brought Doudou for Christmas last year when she was nearly one. Pretty much from the start, she has loved him.

Now she is 22 months and takes every nap with Doudou, and of course sleeps with him at night. In the morning I ask her if she slept well. If I forget to ask her how “Doudou” slept, she will say to me “Doudou? Doudou?” Until I ask. (He always seems to have slept well thank you.)

He is very soft and comes in a lovely little round box that you will certainly want to keep (he is sitting on it in the photo). He is made in France (not China) by French company Kaloo.

I can tell you that my daughter’s Doudou has met with all manner of natural biological calamities and has been machine washed and tumbled dry numerous times. He always comes out of his bathing experience soft and intact.

My daughter and I cannot recommend him highly enough!

Set Game: Obsessive fun for all ages!

By , September 26, 2007 8:42 pm

This is such a cool game! You can just feel your brain cells expanding as you play. Since no reading is required and play involves pattern recognition, even younger children (maybe age 6 and up) can learn to play and beat the grownups!

Check out the Set Game website for more info on how to play. The website also has a great online tutorial as well as a puzzle challenge which changes daily.

If you play the online daily game, you might get lucky and win one of the other “Set People’s” card games. They draw a winner randomly every week from amongst all the players. Let me know if you win, since I never have!

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