So, it’s here! For the past couple of days, I’ve been indulging in the excitement of Toy Fair, here in NY. Because it’s an industry trade show, I’ve been busy working and meeting with various companies that reached out to me.
In case you haven’t already, be sure to join me on The Next Kid Thing Fan Page and twitter to see my updates throughout Toy Fair.
With thousands and thousands of exhibitors at Toy Fair, it’s obviously going to be difficult to cover every single company. I will, however, try to do a roundup of products that are of interest, and perhaps, the next kid thing.
Yesterday, after my meetings, I spent the majority of my day walking the floor. There are a lot of really great exhibitors, and of course, many new products that are being launched in conjunction with Toy Fair. I made it a point to check out green and sustainable toys, and was quite pleased with the amount of products that have joined this category.
Some companies have been in the Green sector before “green” was its own category. There are literally hundreds of fabulous toys, so for now, here are just a few of my findings. (Please note, these photos are from my phone, but I’ll be sure to share much, much more tonight.)
When the cold and rainy weather keeps us indoors, finding new activities and games to occupy the kids can sometimes be a chore. Crafts are always a surefire way to keep everyone entertained, yet the mess leaves much to be desired…if only there was a “cleaner” craft. Oh, but there is!
Out for a year or two, EnviroBLOX from Cadaco is a construction toy that has the consistency of styrofoam peanuts, but is much more versatile and sustainable. EnviroBLOX instantly stick together after being moistened with water, so it doesn’t need any glue, staples or tape. Though the sets come with suggested building designs, there’s a wide assortment of colors, so kids can construct almost anything they can imagine.
Last week, I had the privilege of being invited to the annual Blogger’s Brunch here in NYC, where a number of influential bloggers networked and interacted with various companies and marketers. One of the organizations present at the brunch was Goddard Schools, a school that I know a few of my friends and family have turned to in the past.
Goddard Schools had a lot of great information to share with us bloggers, but one piece of information that was especially helpful for NKT was their 10 Eco-Friendly Toys Under $30. Together with Eco-Child’s Play, Goddard Schools unveiled a really great list of eco-friendly AND budget friendly toys.
With toy recalls and reports of unsafe toy manufacturing and imports creating a cause for concern, in an effort to observe more sustainable choices, naturally, some families opt for greener toys made from renewable resources. And of course, a smart and economical alternative to mass produced toys are unique, handmade goodies. Beyond whittling your own collection of handmade toys yourself, thank goodness for the treasure trove that is Etsy! I always say this, but you can’t buy the kind of craftsmanship that you find in Etsy in a mainstream store —no matter what the product might be!
Today’s Etsy find is from a toy shop that I’ve featured before—I love these toys that much. Happy Squash Toys sent us a trio of Natural Cars for review, and based on the kid’s inability to put them down for one second, it’s official: they’re a hit.
Like most boys his age, our almost 2-year old is fascinated by anything with wheels or rolls. Cars, trains, animals with wheels, bikes, tractor trailers—you name it, he loves it. The Natural Cars from Happy Squash Toys are no exception. He loves wheeling them around the floor, furniture and whatever surface that will let him mobilize these cars. The trick is always finding a way to make all 3 roll at once since his little hands aren’t quite big enough to push them all at once yet. I love the way our little guy makes his own little car sounds when playing with the Natural Cars. I’ll take those sweet imaginative noises over the loud battery-operated honks, beeps and flashing lights any day.
Cariboo (yes, the same New Zealand manufacturers of that gorgeous bassinet that’s a hit with several celebs) has a collection called Kiwi Cot Collection. The high-end kids’ furniture line features handcrafted pieces made from sustainable Radiata pine with a biodegradable finish, available in either teak or espresso. The collection has a modern and European look, but the soft edges give it its timeless and classic appearance.
Always on the lookout for the Next Big Thing for kids, I find myself researching incessantly, not only new products, but also news that’s relevant to parenting and kids. Even before I started NKT, I tried to keep abreast on topics pertaining to the environment and especially reports about BPA. With Chicago voting to adopt a ban on the sale of baby bottles and sippy cups containing the chemical BPA, and other areas moving in a similar direction, huge strides are being made.
As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, or in this case, innovation and ingenuity. Citing the growing need for more BPA-free products, Michael Ritterbrown and his wife, Shelley launched Green to Grow, a line of award-winning baby bottles. Like most modern parents, they sought safe alternatives for kid gear and weren’t willing to sacrifice sensibility, thus Green to Grow was sprouted to fill that void.
I initially spotted Green to Grow bottles at Buy Buy Baby and was immediately intrigued by the modern, yet simplistic appearance. Green to Grow kindly sent me a sample to review in detail; specifically, they sent the 5 oz. Wide Neck Bottle.
Despite those scorching days we had here on the east coast, summer isn’t exactly here yet. But just because summer isn’t here yet, doesn’t mean we can’t bolster the kids’ closets with warm weather frocks. Need some summer dresses? How perfect is this adorable prairie dress from Earth Groovz?
With its bold, contrasting patterns, this dress is light and versatile–perfect for spring and summer! Not only is it cute, eco-friendly, too. The prairie dress features organic adjustable knit straps that tie in the back, organic natural elastic and the sustainable cotton material, leaving no carbon footprint. The dress is made to order and comes in sizes 6M, 12M, 2T, 3T, 4T. Be sure to check out Earth Groovz’ shop on Etsy for even more cute, eco-friendly spring/summer dresses.
Right now, wheels and animals are a big deal in our house. So when we spotted this Pushalong Duck by ImagiPlay, you can only imagine how much excitement it brought the kid. Made from Rubberwood, the Pushalong Duck is a classic and eco-friendly toy that encourages the development of motor skills and balance. It’s amazing how something like a duck with wheels can be so entertaining!
ImagiPlay is a green company that produces sustainable and safe toys. The company employs fair trade craftspeople, and reinforces their social responsibility by planting more than 5,000 trees a year. The Pushalong Duck retails for about $15 and can be found at toy shops and online.
Perhaps one of my favorite toy concepts I’ve seen in a long time is Global Green Pals. I came across the Global Green Pals while at the Go Green Expo and was immediately intrigued. What first caught my eye about these dolls was the fact that they’re multicultural and very unique. Growing up with not many multicultural dolls, it’s nice to see that toy companies are mirroring the diversity of the kids that love their toys.
What’s great about the Global Green Pals is that each one has a story. All unique, their stories involve environmentalism and a fervor to save the Earth. Though not available until this summer, check out the Global Green Pals’ site and get to know Offset Chet, Clean Air Kate, Pani Rani, Pink Coral Laurel and Recycle Kyle! Just as the dolls are poised to Save the Earth, with every Pal purchased, a portion of the sales will go to 1% for the Planet.
I love the concept behind these dolls and can see them becoming a huge hit! It’s toys like Global Green Pals that epitomize The Next Kid Thing!
I’ll be sure to share more information about them once they’re available!
That Summer weather has simmered and now we’re back to the fun Spring weather that we all love. What better way to welcome Spring “back” and get outside with a few nature-inspired kits. Because Earth Day should be celebrated every day, I think these new eco-themed kits from The Young Scientists Club put a cool spin on the 3 Rs—Reduce, Reuse and Recycle—as well as embrace fun with good ol’ nature, making them a perfect environmentally-friendly gift idea or a great green addition to science classrooms.
Science on a Gardening Adventure
Through hands-on science experiments, kids can learn the ins and outs about gardening, underground habitats, explore plants, grow seeds and study bugs. The kit for kids ages 4+ includes a handy dandy carry-all kit and kids can also create a terrarium and much more.
Magic School Bus Going Green
Through experiments kids ages 5+ can go for a “ride” and learn even more about how to go green, specifically on how to recreate the water cycle, build a compost tube, shrink plastic, magically make packing peanuts disappear, decompose food with fungus, form pulp, create new paper, design recycled paper shapes, and much more. The Going Green is a part of the award winning Magic School Bus series.
Go Green Mini-Kit
With this kit, curious scientists can better understand what it really means to be green by learning more about acids and bases, use pH paper to test rain water, make Styrofoam magically disappear, create pulp from old newspapers, recycle paper, make new paper and recycle leaves in a peat pellet. To better care for our ailing environment, it’s never too early to foster green-living for the next generation with a cool Save the Earth kit like this.
The Young Scientists award-winning science kits were created by a Harvard-trained mom and can be found at various toy and parent/teacher shops.