Christmas 2015 – Wooden toys under $100

Halloween is over and let’s roll on the festive season!

With it comes all the flurry of thinking about what presents aka kids toys to buy your children, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and grandchildren. So I thought I would help out over the next few weeks and give you some ideas  with my gift guides, as we build up to Christmas 2015 ( 7 weeks + and counting, just thought I would add that in for some shock value!).

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Finlee and Me

One Australian online store that I keep coming back to for gift inspiration is the fabulous Finlee and Me. I love that it sells some of my favourite toys like Tegu wooden magnetic blocks, Kinetic sand, flash cards by the gorgeous Two Little Ducklings and I adore their Montessori toys too. But also available are on trend toys like Homely Creatures Dollhouse which I saw at Life Instyle in Sydney and is utterly fabulous!  With a focus towards toys that are wooden, sensory and ones that harness a child’s imagination, Angela has found a niche in toys for the Australian kids market.

It is the little details that keeps you coming back. When you start doing a search through the site you realise how many things you have  always needed but never found in the one website. Angela, the owner, a mother herself, has truly taken the time to research her products and find things relevant to the modern mama. I have been looking for a large wall decal for the days of the week so I can help to stay on top of all the kids activities, tick, yes, they have 3 different styles available.

They have loads of fab gifts for babies to kids as well as practical essentials for travel, nursery, preschool and bath time.  So please check it out if you want some inspiring, unique, high quality toys that are affordable.

I have my eye on a few cool things for the boys like the following:

Tap Tap Hammering set: my son plays with one at school and thinks it is the best thing, apart from when another kid in his class tried to poke his eye out with the hammer! $24.95

A-Z flash cards and building blocks – two of my fave things together in one toy! What more can you ask for? $49.95

Idea boxes – such a fun idea for the whole family. Beats the idiot box! $22.95

Coloured cups and balls – i love these Montessori toys which help children to understand colours, develop fine motor skills and generally have a lot of fun, not to mention wooden! $26.95

Rainbow sound blocks – I have always adored these but never got around to getting them for my boys but they would make a great 1st birthday present! $54.95

Angela also writes a great blog which you can find on the website and she has some great ideas for keeping the kids amused with arts, cooking and science.

Check Finlee and Me out here for your next birthday gift or baby shower gift!

The Organic Family

This week, we have been very lucky to have some visitors come and stay with us. They are rather unique, a lot of fun, and they like to go on adventures! They go by the name “The Organic Family” and I have to say it has been a pleasure getting to know this sweet little family of 4, yes you may have guessed it by now, wooden dolls, by Goose Grease toys! 

This little family consists of a mama, papa, brother and sister who have been lovingly hand crafted using wood that is sustainably sourced under fair trade practices in Bogotá, Colombia.

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Goose Grease is owned and run by a wife and husband team, Anna and Juan Donado out of Brooklyn, New York. Juan is Colombian and he chose his home country to produce these sweetest of toys and Anna trains the skilled artisans to hand paint each doll, using non toxic water based paints. 

I adore wooden toys as you would no doubt realise in reading my blog. Why? Well there are many reasons for my love of all things wood!  One is the aesthetics and texture, they just look stunning and the natural softness of wood is a nice change from all the plastic in this world.  Another reason is the heirloom quality of wood and the fact the toys can be passed down through the generations and not be broken or have pieces missing like plastic toys. Finally, that due to the quality and design, wooden toys generally don’t date, which means you won’t thrown them away when your child has had enough of that latest trend.

It was with much pleasure therefore that this little organic family came on a big adventure to our house via the fantastic new Australian based shop Noc Noc; who source and stock only handcrafted wooden toys from around the world. Heather’s passion for wooden toys is similar to mine, in that she chooses wooden toys for their environmental and sustainability factor. As a mother of 2 gorgeous kids, she wanted to consciously source toys that were handcrafted and of artisan quality.  However, as I too have found, Heather struggled to find handmade wooden toys made in Australia, in particular, on a wholesale level. We just don’t seem to have the demand for it here, well not yet…

Goose Grease toys were one of her first purchases for the store and Heather tells me a little more as to why she choose these toys in particular:

As soon as I saw these dolls I had quite a physical reaction. I really felt like a small child again and I  just wanted to hold and play with them (and I do). They are so beautifully made and feel so gorgeous to hold. Knowing that they are each lovingly hand lathed and then hand painted makes them so very special. I also just love how different each set is. The organic family just melt me. The Monochrome are the trendy family of the bunch. The ninjas make me giggle. So I can imagine that they also bring out these different emotional reactions in children too! I was over the moon when I found out that I could sell them in Australia and in fact we are now their Australian distributors. 

I also asked Heather about the importance of wooden toys and what future they have:

I actually see us moving in a full circle. Back to natural, ecologically friendly toys. Whilst the tech age is undoubtably here to stay, I also see parents making choices to limit these techy items and give their children toys that will allow their imaginations to grow. I also most definitely am seeing parents who wish to limit the plastic and waste that occurs in their children’s worlds. I think different parents have different reasons for doing this whether it be environmental, health (the toxic chemicals in plastic), for aesthetic reasons or even for the nostalgia of our children having the wooden toys like we did. However I am definitely seeing a resurgence in wooden toy enquiries and an understanding of the higher price tag that come with these toys.

I am looking forward to seeing more from Noc Noc in the future and the new discoveries and treasures that Heather is no doubt going to find as she pursues her dream of creating a creative hub, made of only handcrafted wooden toys.

Now let us go and see what adventures the Organic family got up to on their stay with us!

 

 The adventures of the Organic Family.

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   Families that camp together….

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Football fun with the siblings!

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Can we have an icecream, puhleeease Mum! 

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Finishing off a fun day with a play on the swings and tasting the delicious organic ice cream and juices! 

 

Ages: 3+

Size: 6.5 – 9 cm tall

Non toxic paint, fair trade conditions, sustainably sourced wood.

****DISCOUNT CODE ****

Heather has very kindly offered free shipping on all Noc Noc toys using code “KGT15”. 

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Disclosure: in order to review Goose Grease, we were given an Organic family to test out.

My Little Rider – Christmas gift guide

This little gift guide “My Little Rider” is inspired by those kids that always have a car, truck, fire engine, motorbike, or digger in their hand whether at kindy, at home, at preschool or out and about. They would never leave home without one!

 

My Little Rider 2014 GG

 

1. To get your little rider cruising early, try this balance bike from Cambridge made Early Rider Lite Balance bike.  Ages 18 months +

2. We adore our Baghera in our household and these new ride ons look a joy to ride, Baghera Ride on Riders Black. Ages

3. A puzzle and car in one, Automoblox C9 Sports car. Ages 3 +

4. Orchard Toys Giant Road Jigsaw for hours of puzzle fun that you can then use to race your cars around town. Ages 3+

5.  For all “little riders”, the perfect tee from Pop Kids “Road Rebel” tee.  Ages 3 months – 8 years.

6. Mon Petit Art “Vehicles” colouring and sticker book to entertain your vehicle lover on rainy days. Ages 3+

7. Green Toys Fire Engine, made from recycled milk containers, with over 24, 482, 366  recycled so far and counting. A true “green” toy and so much fun for your fire engine loving child. Ages 12 months +

8. Alain Gree ” Transport” book to teach them all about the different types of transport.  Ages 2+

9. For a play tent for any vehicle lover, check out The Monster Factory VW Campervan play tent. Ages 2+

10. Hop and Peck British Tractor toy makes the perfect introduction to gorgeously designed . Ages 12 months +

NB:- I have chosen not to provide pricing details as these products have been sourced globally and thus are subject to change.

Toy of the month – June 2014

GG* Oekaki House by Kukkia

I always loved  playing with an “Etch a Sketch” as a child, creating drawing after drawing and happily or unhappily erasing them when I was finished.  I had been on the lookout for one for the boys after they were playing with one on a ski holiday earlier in the year. However,  once I started researching those available they didn’t get great reviews, with many saying they broke within a few months. I thought I would prefer to spend a little more money and find one that was well made, sturdy and not prone to breaking and it would not doubt save me money in the long run!

I then saw an IG post from Abacus Kids regarding a wooden magnetic drawing board and I knew this was what I had been searching for! Plus Faye was having a little sale on at that time, so I couldn’t resist buying this toy for my son’s birthday!

The gg* Oekaki Drawing board house comes in a cute little carry bag for travel on road trips, to the grandparents or even out to restaurants. It also helps for easy storage AND the drawing board is as cute as it looks in the photos!

My son adored playing with this present on his 2nd birthday. The first thing on the toy he was drawn to was the abacus on top of the house. He played with that for a few minutes before he then moved on to playing with the actual drawing board.

When he first started to play with the drawing board,  he loved playing with the stamps and stamping them on the board. 6 months down the track he can now use the pen more and make swirls and scribbles which is great for his fine motor skill development. His eldest brother J, loves drawing with it as well and creating little masterpieces. I adore that the drawing board is in colour too! I always remembered mine as a child was black and white.

This toy is not cheap in comparison with the plastic variety, but it is well made, seriously cute and a lot of fun for your kids! This is definitely a case of quality over quantity and I am glad I chose this wooden drawing board over the plastic variety.

One point to note, is that the little running dog that erases each creation was a little stiff to start but it has loosened up with use.  The only other thing I would mention is the screen sometimes cuts out with the drawing but if you shake it or pull the dog across, it fixes that problem.

We have other toys from Kukkia like their little wooden car and I have to say they are great quality, gorgeously designed and beautifully presented.

Designed in Japan and made in Vietnam by Kukkia.

Ages 2+

RRP: £50.00

Great for: fine motor skills, creative play, hand and eye coordination, shape and colour recognition and learning to draw/write. 

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Toy of the month – May 2014

 Apple House by Rock and Pebble

If you follow me on Instagram you will know how much I love and adore Rock and Pebble! They are a truly unique, inspiring and wonderfully creative label brought to you by the awesome Mr Printables  (check out this site for AMAZING free yep you guessed it,  printables).

It was love at first sight when I saw their Apple and Pear houses in February this year via Abacus Kids‘ IG account and I knew that they would make the perfect 2nd Birthday present for my youngest H.

As he loves apples, it was the Apple House for us. I adored playing with my dolls house as a child. It was one that my father had made for me and it had the coolest silver roof!! I felt that just because I had 2 boys and not girls, that didn’t mean I should deprive them of the same joy, imaginative play and fun that a doll’s house provides.

The Apple house is a perfect unisex doll’s house that has been so brilliantly designed that it comes all flat packed in a cute grey bag.  It allows you  then to pack it up when it is not in use. I have to warn you though, it will be in constant use!

As we bought our Apple House as part of their original launch, we received 4 cute pebbles (wooden peg people) included. You can now buy these separately as Modern, Color and Alphabet and they come with reusable clothing! So adorable and yes we had to buy these too as our Apple House likes having guests come to visit.

Doll’s houses by their nature are generally big and bulky and require a lot of room in a child’s bedroom or playroom.  I wanted something we could travel with and easily assemble and dissemble when required.

Rock and Pebble are a US based company that manufactures the houses in the UK using European Birch wood. They felt it was more environmentally sustainable to have the houses made close to where the wood is cut rather than shipping it all the way to the US to manufacture.  I love their catchphrase, “Natural, non toxic, sustainable is our goal.”

Their inspirations for both their doll houses and pebbles have come from their parent company, Mr Printables. Both of the designs were amazing printables that were so hugely popular they decided to create something more permanent using sustainably sourced wood.

If you want to inspire your child with wooden toys that are brilliantly designed and manufactured and that provoke your child’s imagination and sense of  wonder and help to contribute to a greener world, then look no further than Rock and Pebble. Plus these doll houses look  seriously stunning in your children’s room!

Ages: 3+ ( although with parental supervision due to the little pebbles, it is fine from 2+) 

RRP £80.00

Great for: fine motor skills, imaginative/creative play and role play.

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