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Cool new toys this Christmas

Talkin Toys

This post has been sponsored by Talkin Toys.

It is usually this time of year that a whole lot of news articles come out with ‘Best Toys of 2017’, ‘Best Cool Toys of 2017’ and ‘The 10 Best Gifts to Buy Kids in 2017’. I read them, check them out to see if there are any fun toys my readers would like to hear about. As such  I wanted to let you know about 2 cool toys I have been told about from Talkin Toys which I think will make great stocking fillers this Christmas.  I certainly know my boys would love either of them in their Santa Sacks come Christmas Day…

I know that I don’t generally review many mainstream toys on this blog. There are some cool toy review sites available for this very purpose, many on YouTube and I usually leave it to them to dish the news on cool upcoming toys.

Talkin Toys is one of these YouTube based review channels. With kid presenters as well as adults, they offer a fun online video program presenting news and reviews on the latest and coolest mainstream toys.

However, there are 2 toys that I thought looked seriously fun and I knew my kids would like them so I thought I would let you know about them to keep you up to date this Christmas.

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Handmade Christmas Crayons from Funny Little Things

Funny-Little-Things-Handmade-Crayons-Kids-Gifts

Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year but I think we can all agree it can be pretty stressful with all of the end of year events at preschool, school and sport not to mention carols, family parties, get together’s with friends, work parties and did I mention actually getting in your Christmas shopping somewhere?

This year I have a few giveaways coming up on the blog which will mean for the lucky winners they have some of their kids gifts all sorted.

We already hosted the incredible Kazoops Soft Toy giveaway which was met with HUGE enthusiasm especially from all the non Australian fans. And this week, I have teamed up with a beautiful local Sydney maker and creator, Tess from Funny Little Things. Tess makes the most beautiful handmade crayons which make perfect stocking fillers, party favours and birthday gifts.

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Christmas Gift Guide 2017- Wooden Toys

Best Wooden Toys Christmas 2017

Another incredible year and so many amazing wooden toys that I have blogged, reviewed and discovered over the course of the year.

Wooden toys are utterly classic beauties that stand the test of time and general wear and tear of children. They are full of endless play as there are no batteries, no noises and the child gets to use their imagination to bring the toy alive.

Whether they are playing with a super cool modular dollhouse, having fun with brilliant Geo puzzles,  building castles and forts, balancing on boards, stacking cats, or creating fun play spaces for their cars, trucks and planes.

Each child who plays with these toys will have a different and unique experience from the next kid and even day to day,  as it will all depend on your child’s imagination.

It is these toys that will be passed down to the next generation, loved, played with and cherished. Not the cheap plastic ones with all the bells and whistles that will go to landfill after dying a quick death due to poor workmanship, breakages and dead batteries.

In choosing wooden toys, you are choosing to think about your child’s future and their kids’ future.

Best Wooden Toys Christmas 2017

Gift Guide details from the top of the tree and L to R are:

Egmont Doll House Modern – The Mini Manor & Co  $88.00

Ze Geoanimo by Djeco – Tiny Paper Co $54.95

Milianiwood Animal Factory – Wild and Whimsical Things $28.95

Castle Block Set – Play to Learn  $49.00

Wobbel Board – Sweet Elephants $295.00

Grimms Wooden Blocks Colour Tree Slices  The Creative Toy Shop $73.00

BuildMe Wooden Toys – Tow  $59.00

Pinch Toys – Mini Set Retro 70s Cars – Monkeynmoo Shop $32.00

Wooden Cat Stacking Puzzle – Happy Go Ducky Toys $23.00

Friendly Toys – Wooden Plane – Wiggles Piggles $39.95

This line up are all from Australian online small business retailers who are supporting their families with their business. In supporting them you support their families this Christmas.

Disclosure: this post was written in conjunction with these beautiful shops All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.

Christmas Gift Guide 2017- Big Kids

I am super excited for this year’s annual gift guides as I have collaborated with an incredible selection of stunning online toy and gift boutiques to bring you some of the best gift ideas there is for your big kids!

I love curating and selecting toys that will be a big part of your child’s future growth and development.

I hope you love this year’s selection of toys for big kids ages 4 to 8 years.

The toys and gifts here are perfect to get children into the great outdoors and do a spot of gardening and press some flowers. Or to write letters to their friends, family and even Santa and pop them in their very own letter box. Keep the big kids amused with a marble run, game of lotto, wooden shape puzzle or practice the alphabet using games via a tablet.  Perhaps you are after some good old fashioned fun and your child can pretend to be a doctor or zoom around cars and caravans imagining they are on summer holidays. Lastly for some whizz, bang fizz, test out experiments in a science kit. There is definitely something to suit your child here no matter their interests.

They are all non toxic toys that will allow your child to explore their creativity, imagination, and many are educational.Best Kids Toys 2017 - Kids Gifts and Toys Christmas Gift Guide- Big Kids 2017

Gift Guide details from the top of the tree and L to R: 

Make Me Iconic Post Box – Sweet Elephants $79.99

Flower Press Large (18cm x 18cm) – Play to Learn $55.00

Tin Toy Set Mercedes Cabrio, Coupe and Caravan Happy Go Ducky Toys $55.00

Hape Quadrilla Set – The Creative Toy Shop $119.00

Extra Large Wooden Shape Puzzle – Happy Go Ducky Toys $120.00

OMM Design Animal Lotto Game – Wiggles Piggles $29.95

Curious Kids Science ‘Chemistry in Action’ Kit – Curious Kids Science $33.00

Marbotics Smart Letters – Keld Industries $89.95

Sow n’ Sow Christmas Greetings Billy Button Gift of Seeds – Wild and Whimsical Things $9.95

Burgon Ball Hand Trowl – Wild and Whimsical Things $23.95

Burgon Ball Hand Fork – Wild and Whimsical Things $23.95

Le Toy Van Doctor Set – Wiggles Piggles $79.95

This line up are all from Australian online small business retailers who are supporting their families with their business. In supporting them you support their families this Christmas.

Disclosure: this post was written in conjunction with these beautiful shops All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.

Christmas Gift Guides 2017 – Toddler

I am super excited for this year’s annual gift guides as I have collaborated with an incredible selection of stunning online toy and gift boutiques to bring you some of the best gift ideas there is for your little ones.

I love curating and selecting toys that will be a big part of your child’s future growth and development.

I hope you love this year’s selection of toys, they are for the busy toddler to keep him or her occupied, entertained with open ended toys which allow the child to use their creativity and imagination. Many of the toys are classics or modern classics that have been tried and tested by generations of kids. They are non toxic, non tech toys that will allow your child to explore different parts of their gross and fine motor skills.

Gift Guide details from the top of the tree and L to R: 

Cana Watering Can by Quut – Tiny Paper Co. $24.95

Paola Reina Doll ‘Nora’ Yellow Jacket – The Mini Manor & Co $99.00

Alimrose Angel Bunny with Wings – Wiggles Piggles  $69.95

BuildMe Wooden Toys Buster PlayMe Car $69.00

Indigo Jamm- Toby Truck from  Lucas Loves Cars $80.00

Wishbone 3 in 1 balance bike from Sweet Elephants from $289.99

Way to Play Ring Road 12 part set from Alfie Wild Kids $89.00

Fishing Set – Play to Learn $69.00

Plan Toy Beehives – The Creative Toy Shop $49.00

Milaniwood Make Maki Sushi – Wild and Whimsical Things $59.95

This line up are all from Australian online small business retailers who are supporting their families with their business. In supporting them you support their families this Christmas.

Disclosure: this post was written in conjunction with these beautiful shops All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way

Christmas Gift Guides 2017- Handmade

Best Handmade Gifts for Kids Christmas 2017

I am super excited for this year’s annual gift guides as I have collaborated with an incredible selection of beautiful handcrafted makers and creators for the best in handmade gifts for your children this Christmas.

I love curating and selecting toys that have been made with heart, passion and soul. Sometimes painstakingly designed, reworked, designed, reworked and finally the finish version is ready for children’s hands.

I hope you love this year’s selection of handmade toys and gifts. Many are pretend play toys that allow your child to imagine that they are a queen ruling over her empire, or a dinosaur bashing and crashing through the jungle, wood folk that are preparing for a Christmas party or a fairy king helping his fairies to build their fairy trees in the woods.  Others still allow your child to colour and draw or learn about the animals of the world or decorate your child’s room or hold their most treasured possessions on their back.

They are non toxic, non tech toys that will allow your child to explore different parts of their imagination, creativity, gross and fine motor skills.Best Handmade Gifts for Kids Christmas 2017 Gift Guide details from the top of the tree and L to R: 

Handmade Lee Leather Bunting – Coco Rose Interiors $70.00

Handmade Hazel Village Catalina Mouse Monkeynmoo $64.95

Handmade Silver Wand – Alfie Wild $25.00

Rose Gold Birthday Handmade crown –Schooza $14.95

Handmade Olivia Leather Kids back pack – Coco Rose Interiors $75.00

Dinosaur Tail – Schooza $29.95

In The Jungle Dinosaur Name Chart Art Hanger Dino Raw $44.00

World Animal Flash Cards – Two Little Ducklings $27.95

ZooModern Animal friends: Lars the Owl,  Abe the Fox, Evan the Rabbit and Leo the Bear $85.00 each. Available in Australia at The Woods Folk

Washable handmade playmats  Noble Cubs $25.00

This line up are all from Australian online small business retailers who are supporting their families with their business. In supporting them you support their families this Christmas.

Disclosure: this post was written in conjunction with these beautiful shops All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.

Christmas Gift Guides 2017 – Baby

I am super excited for this year’s annual gift guides as I have collaborated with an incredible selection of stunning online toy and gift boutiques to bring you some of the best gift ideas there is for your little ones.

I love curating and selecting toys that will be a big part of your baby’s future growth and development. I hope you love this year’s selection of toys that have been chosen for their ability to keep your baby happy over the next year whether that is keeping them comfortable in organic clothes, amusing them with pull along toys or stacking puzzles or giving them a soft and cuddly friend to hold.

Best-baby-gifts-christmas
Gift Guide details from the top of the tree and L to R: 

Friendly Toys Wooden Pull Along Dog – Wiggles Piggles  $44.95

Blabla Mini Knit Doll Hazel – Wild and Whimsical Things $74.95

Blabla Mini Knit Doll Jasper – Wild and Whimsical Things  $74.95

Grimms Set of Natural Stacking Bowls – The Creative Toy Shop $46.00

Organic Essentials Newborn Gift set (includes baby blanket, bib & beanie) – Niovi Organics $75.00

Baby Book Blueberry Co $49.95

Grimms Rainbow Boat Grasping Toy – The Creative Toy Shop $34.00

Oli and Carol Chew Fruit – Wild and Whimsical Things $17.95 each

Noah’s Ark Stacking Puzzle – Lucas Loves Cars $38.00

Garden Sorter and Roller- The Mini Manor & Co $49.95

This line up are all from Australian online small business retailers who are supporting their families with their business. In supporting them you support their families this Christmas.

Disclosure: this post was written in conjunction with these beautiful shops All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.

Toy of the month – November 2017

Wow I am not exactly sure how this year has sped by and I am now writing my last toy review for the year? Life with kids certainly means life just seems to go at warped speed. Next year it will be even more zippy as my youngest starts  school. I am quietly crying a little inside but he is beyond excited to go to school with his big brother and all his preschool mates, so it is a bittersweet moment as my baby grows up.

Starting school and this month’s toy review are a perfect combination as this month we have been testing out a seriously awesome ‘Chemistry in Action’ science kit gifted from Sydney based Curious Kids Science.  Curious Kids Science is headed up by the incredibly passionate Mum Rachel Brittliff with head tester being her 6 year old daughter, Lily. Rachel has a background in Law, however it was when her then 3 year old daughter came home from preschool wanting to replicate an “experience” she had seen there, that Rachel embarked on a mission to bring fun and science to young children.

After countless hours of research and hundreds of experiments, testing them out over a year with 20 kids aged 4 to 10 years, they finally settled on the Chemistry kit we are reviewing which was released early this year.

This is our first ever kit based toy review and I have to say it was A LOT of fun. I mean A LOT of fun! The kit provides experiment cards, a chemical reaction kid’s manual, an adults guide and non toxic products for 5 experiments to be carried out by kids 4 + years.

With some changes to the method and a few additional ingredients from the pantry, the kit has the ability to conduct up to 20 different experiments using the kit. There are also suggestions on ways to approach different experiments based on age groups which is awesome as it means you can continue to use the kit for years to come.

Curious Kids Science Kit Chemistry In Action

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Kazoops toys have arrived

This is a sponsored post written in collaboration with Cheeky Little Media.

The news all Kazoops fans have been waiting for…Kazoops toys have been released! The full toy range includes plush toys, figurines, play sets and games and we here in the Kids Gifts and Toys household are super pumped to see them available.

The plush toys were released last month by Tomy in Australia and feature Monty, Lily the Alien, Suzy the Dinosaur, Otis the Warthog and our household fave Jimmy Jones. This month they have also launched in the UK via  Toys “R” US  and Amazon.

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Happy Hands Happy Heart Happy Kids

Play dough is one of those absolute classic toys that so many children have grown up with and today 87 years on, it is still a cherished activity that kids love! Play dough even makes it into the National Toy Hall of Fame in the US. What I didn’t know until today was that what we know as Play-Doh®, started life as wallpaper cleaner back in the 1920’s!  Composed of flour, water, salt, boric acid, and mineral oil, the product was first created by Noah McVicker for Cincinnati based company, Kutol.

These days though many families enjoy making play dough at home and in the last few years, Australian based brand Happy Hands Happy Heart has been making waves with their natural version of play -dough with the most incredible scents that literally waft out of the glass jar once you open it.

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Toy of the Month – October 2017

This month we are testing out an incredibly beautiful toy, like I am not joking, this is one I have never seen before and when Happy Go Ducky Toys asked me to review it, I jumped at being gifted the opportunity.

This month we review their incredible Extra Large Wooden Triangle Puzzle which is from Czech brand Playful Wood.

Happy Go Ducky are an Australian based company run by wife and husband team, Amy and Votja, who in 2015 started to bring to Australia the most incredible Czech designed and produced toys like the Playful Wood range of toys.

Their ethos is closely aligned to mine in that they only sell toys that are ethically and sustainably produced, they want their toys to last and not to add to the growing plastic junk pile. Along with being completely safe for little ones in terms of non toxic toys, they are also educational and open learning toys that allow for the creativity and fun!

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Toy of the month – September 2017

Wow honestly I don’t know how we only have a few more months left of 2017, how we are almost in Term 4 and that I am already looking at Christmas gift guides! But let’s not get ahead of myself as this month, I am super pumped and oh so excited to be reviewing the incredible open ended toy, the Wobbel Board.  Yes it has finally arrived in Australia via my brand rep fave The Creative Toy Shop!

This fabulous open ended toy brings hours of fun to not only kids but the whole family. It isn’t cheap and certainly set us back this coming Christmas but the versatility and flexibility of this toy is beyond most toys you have come across. You will be surprised at all the different ways this toy can be used, played with, balanced on and slide down.

I do admit the Wobbel board isn’t new, my eldest son used to play with them in Germany at Kindergarten and now in Australia, they also have a similar version at my youngest son’s preschool albeit their model has a padded cushion attached on the bottom rather than what is available on the Wobbel.

The Dutch company, Wobbel have reinvented a classic Waldorf design of the balance board ( also known as Steiner in Australia and the US) and modernised it with the special wool felt and cork underlays as well as various colour ways to customise the Wobbel for your own home and lifestyle.

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Meet the Maker – KnitSquid

This month we have a wonderful creator and shaker for our ‘Meet the Maker’! Ha I love a good rhyme. But seriously, this month we shine a spotlight on to a gorgeous handmade toy industry that I have long admired and even asked my mum to make one for my eldest when he was born. This month it is all about knitted and crochet toys and a Japanese art form called Amigurumi from US based maker Eliza Ryan from KnitSquid. I am super excited to be showcasing it on the blog as these handmade toys are just super creative and utterly gorgeous.

I first discovered crochet toys when I found the brand Anne-Claire Petit and I bought my eldest an awesome rainbow plane in London, we still have it and it is what started my appreciation for crochet and knitted toys. I know making them certainly isn’t easy, I think you need a whole heap of patience, skill and time! I wanted to find out more and when Eliza approached me about her fab brand, I was all ears.

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Kids Activities – DIY Succulent Crystal Garden

Since we moved back to Australia, we have taken a keen interest in gardening and growing our own vegetables, herbs and flowers each Spring. It is just so nice to have our own small piece of green space and to teach the kids a little more where food comes from in the hope they may eventually eat vegetables… ( still waiting for that!)

This has also translated to indoors as well and this year the boys and I have finally worked out how to take care of some succulents which we bought at our local fabulous sustainable nursery, New Leaf.  We have gone from killing our succulents to watching them thrive! The boys (and I !)  now know that their plants need watering once a week or longer and not every day… It has been a learning curve for us all.

We have also been discovering crystals and learning about gems this year after being introduced to them by a close friend. We found out a few months back that one of our fave shops in the area, Little Paper Lane now stocks crystals and gems, so we went to check out what they had and the boys came away with a clear point crystal quartz and circular rose quartz. The boys have been cleansing them at full moon and loving learning about their healing effects.

Lastly on a road trip up north in July, we visited the incredible Crystal Castle & Shambhala Gardens, which is close to Byron Bay. This place is sheer magic; the whole area is imbued with beauty, peace and the crystals make you feel so energised and renewed( this is coming from a former skeptic!) The boys absolutely loved it there and we added to our crystal collection with an agate, amethyst and labradorite. In chatting with the staff up there, we bought some large rough hewn amethyst and rose quartz as well they were on sale (hehe love a bargain!) and we thought we might use them one day in our garden.

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CBCA Book Week 2017

CBCA Book Week is almost over and it is one week of the year that I love as for me Book Week is the celebration of reading and a love of books! Book Week is I believe unique to Australia, in that around the world, countries celebrate World Book Day on the 23rd April, International Children’s Book Day on the 2nd April and Book Lovers Day on the 9th August. But from what I can find in my research, it is one day and not a whole week of celebrations!

Each year has a theme and this year it is ‘Escape to Everywhere’ which is an awesome theme and covers so many children’s books! I think immediately of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers, The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton and gosh so many more!

My boys decided on their costumes only late last week so we busily prepared them over the weekend and this week ( whilst Mum battled a cold/flu!) to get ready for Book Week.

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Toy of the month – August 2017

A little story to tell you my lovely readers about this month’s Build Me wooden toys; my youngest was so enamored with these incredible wooden cars that he sneakily took one to preschool to show his mates! There was only one slight issue in that we hadn’t finished testing them out at home. Eep! Suffice to say it did arrive back in one piece ( phew!) with a few minor scratches.

I would say that actually he did me a favour as they survived a bit of rough and tumble at preschool and still came back  in 100% working order and looking fab. That has to be the best way to test out a toy in my mind!

Darryl Thompson is the creator and maker behind Build Me wooden toys which are designed and made in Melbourne, Australia. We first reviewed his brilliant “BuildMe” wooden toy kits back in September 2015 for our Toy of the Month. The boys and their Dad built a “Monster” truck and the “Short” dump truck and they seriously make THE best Father’s day presents!  They had a brilliant time together building their car kits  and it was such a great bonding experience for them all.

It was with great excitement that I recently heard from Darryl about his new toy collection,   ‘PlayMe‘. These cars are already built for you in brilliant colours, gorgeous woods and ready to go straight out of the box. Let me tell you, they are stunning!!

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Kickstarter – Bokah Blocks for next level construction

We were super excited to feature the incredible Bokah Blocks as our February ‘Toy of the Month‘ last year. These blocks are sheer genius as the makers at Bokah Blocks have reworked a timeless classic, the wooden block and given it a joint! When you connect 2 Bokah blocks with a bendy ( a neat little unit that can stretch, twist, bend and pull), a joint is constructed and this allows not only movement between the blocks but also flexibility in the design.

We created some pretty amazing designs that I honestly never thought was possible from a wooden block. Bokah Blocks are a young US toy start up and you know how much I love supporting small!  It was with excitement that I heard from Bokah Blocks this month as they wanted to let me know about the awesome Kickstarter campaign they have just launched for their Explorer set of blocks. A new set of blocks that are affordable and with 55 pieces still allows for a huge selection of construction designs to be enjoyed by your kids.

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Kids Activities – Crepe paper art

The boys and I decided to get a little creative this week in preparation for Father’s Day coming up in September. We thought we would gift their Dad some awesome art works that we could then hang around the house.

I had a spare few canvases floating around and using Pinterest as my inspiration we decided to try some tissue paper art! I worked out pretty quickly thought that our tissue paper didn’t bleed as much as we liked so I found some spare crepe paper which worked a treat!!

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Meet the Maker – Things by Bean

I am a massive fan of birthdays as you can imagine being a toy blog and gift guide site, so when I was introduced to Jo Power aka “Happy Birthday Girl” extraordinaire I had to find out more about her.

Jo is the head honcho over at Things By Bean and has been since she started the company in 2011. Things by Bean is an awesome stationery brand based in Melbourne that now stocks in over 50 retailers in Australia! A phenomenal effort in such a short space of time, oh and did I mention Jo became a Mum during that time as well.

Jo has even had the honour of travelling to New York City for the National Stationery Show which I think is pretty awesome as basically stationery stores are like my FAVE stores after toy stores. There is just something about cards, gift wrapping and all that paper. I have been known to be lost in stationery stores in NYC, Paris and even Tokyo!

This year, Jo expanded Things by Bean introducing an awesome blog and podcast. The blog has heaps of cool DIY party ideas as well as some pretty crazy kind of cake recipes.

The podcast is next level, hosted by Jo Power and Jeremy Gay, Happy Birthday the Podcast is about all things birthday and celebrations. Introducing some fab ideas I had never known, like Ancient Egyptians were the first to give birthday cards! Given my major at University was Archaeology, that is one of the coolest things I have heard all year.

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Toy of the month – July 2017

This month we are testing out some seriously awesome handmade colouring in mats from Australian maker Noble Cubs and I have to say my kids are absolutely loving them!

All  designed and handmade in Queensland by mother and creator Martina Noble, these eco-friendly toys are completely machine washable, and brilliant for entertaining kids whilst out and about. I would much prefer my kids play with these  fab washable mats than the dreaded tech ( oh tantrum city when you tell them no more playing!)

Martina kindly gifted us two colouring in and doodling mats to test out and review.  My 5 year old was so excited to see the construction mat when he opened it up and he was super intrigued as to how it was going to work. I have to admit I was too. I wasn’t sure how the washable markers were going to colour onto the fabric and I was equally intrigued as to whether they would wash out in full to enable further uses of the mat.

So how do it all go?

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Kids Activities – DIY cardboard computer

We did a change up with our playroom last month and as a result there is now a little cubby area. Well technically it is meant to be another desk/craft area but Hudson has taken it as his little den.

As a result he decided he now needed a “Spy computer” for his new secret area! He has such a creative imagination that I just can’t resist when he asks me to make him something and well, as I have such a love affair with cardboard I thought, why not!?

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Kazoops books – now available!

We blogged about our fave TV show Kazoops back in August last year and let you know about the release of their fab music. We even got to visit their studios in Manly to see how the magic happens. As you can imagine, then we are super excited to announce that the merchandising is just about to start! YAY!

We have been patiently waiting and waiting and finally it is here. First up are the books, yes beautiful story books and activity-sticker books. Kazoops books will be available on shelves at Big W, Target and Dymocks in Australia on  Monday 3rd July.

And yes you guessed it, the plush toys range will be released by TOMY this November, both in Australia and the UK! Yippee!!

But back to the fab books, and yes we may have a sneaky preview of them for you. Also if you keep reading, a chance to win a set of story and sticker-activity books too! Yippee.

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Toy of the month – June 2017

Hello lovely peeps, can we really already be in June, half through 2017?! I know I always say it but gosh time certainly flies with kids and even more so once they go to school. I wrongly assumed school would provide heaps more time for me to blog and work (and maybe do those household things called chores) but I miss the cruisey preschool days where we could just play, play and play!

We are having cooler days here in Sydney, still sunny most days but it is definitely feeling like Winter here. As the boys were both born in England and lived a large amount of their time in the Northern Hemisphere, we are quite used to the colder days  and secretly quite like to hibernate at home as this is when we play with our toys the most.

The winters here are more like a English summer’s day in terms of warmer temperatures but the mornings and evenings are cold. And don’t get me started on the seriously freezing cold houses. I do miss central heating as reverse cycle air conditioning doesn’t quite cut it.

This month’s toy is a super flexible kids toy that works brilliantly both indoors and outdoors, truly perfect then for Australia. We have featured it a lot on our Instagram account and I thought I should introduce it to the blog too! So what is it you ask?

Our beloved waytoplay road track of course!

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Kids Activities – DIY Geo Board Fun

I can’t believe how quickly this year is flying and that I haven’t had the chance to share with you the cool DIY Geo boards we made last school holidays.

I happened to have some spark cork board tiles which I picked up from Bunnings as I had been inspired to make a cork board wall (still a work in progress!). I had seen cool Geo boards on Pinterest so I went and bought some brightly coloured rubber bands and push pins and with a ruler and pencil that was all we needed to start our activity!

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Toy of the month – May 2017

We have been testing out the most beautiful toy storage trolley from Lulo Kids this month and I am secretly wishing that we had little ones again to push it around and look oh so adorable!

We used to own a little wooden trolley when our boys were toddlers that they used for toy storage and to push around but I can honestly tell you it was not as exquisite as this one (think red and white and yellow – eek!)

Lulo Kids is a Melbourne based small business designing and hand making beautiful wooden kids products.  Known for their teepees, they have recently added these wooden trolleys to go with their gorgeous bespoke wooden blocks.

Again, I am over the moon that such Australian based toy companies now exist and thrive when a few years ago all you could find were overseas based companies whose production was based in fast paced China.

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Colour me happy – Super Petit Placemats

Picasso once said “Every child is an artist.” If he met me as a child, I am pretty sure he would  have thought there are always exceptions to the rules ( oh that monstrous UFO Year 7 pottery creation!) but luckily for my sons they love to draw and create. The trick as Picasso said was how to stay an artist when you grow up, that is more difficult but in the meantime, I will keep their creative spirit active and hope for the best.

Super Petit have created these uber cool, super soft silicone place mats for the mini drawer and budding artist and I do think they may have used Picasso’s quote as a starting point.

Available in four designs, “On Ice”, “Magic Tree”, “Surf Party” and “Into Space” they come with 5 washable, kid safe markers and a silicone wristband with the mask motif. We used the wristbands to hold the silicone mat and markers together but the wristband is a fun idea for kids!

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Ice Treasure Fun

I realised that I never shared on the blog the day we froze our toys!! We had such a HOT summer this year with constant highs of 35 plus and it was just crazy weather ( and they say global warming is a myth…) As a result it was hard to venture out to the beach or even the pool as the UV was ridiculous and my boys are fair skinned like me. So after seeing some awesome Pinterest ideas for ice block treasure hunts I decided it could be fun to freeze some of the kids toys and let them smash out the toys and find treasure, as a HOT summers day activity!

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Yummy Yoghurt Pops!

I will admit that I do struggle with preparing easy and healthy after school snacks. My kids become bored and tired of the same old food, as all kids do. Cut apple or melon (my kids are super fussy when it comes to fruit!), toast, muffins, rice crackers and hummus, cheese and crackers or banana smoothies, this is our regular afternoon tea snacks and sometimes the kids just want something a bit different. I would also prefer them to eat more fruit!

Munch Cupboard sent us a sample of their ice pops to test out and I thought they would b be perfect to try for a quick and healthy snack after school. Using a recipe in their cookbook, we made some delicious yoghurt pops!

We mixed 1 cup of vanilla yoghurt, a punnet of fresh strawberries and 1 tsp orange juice together in a blender and then poured them into the reusable ice pops. I wasn’t sure whether to pour it to the very top and I would recommend to give about 2cm before the top to allow for expansion and also for the lid to go firmly on. We froze ours overnight however as long as they have 6 hours freeze time, they will be ready for eating!

And so the verdict…

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Why Kids Gifts and Toys?

I first started my blog over 3 years ago when my eldest was 5 years of age and my youngest just 2. Why did I start? Mainly because I wasn’t what kind of gifts were age suitable for my kids and I wanted to research and find out the best ones.

Not just the best ones though, because what is the”Best”? Best means different things to different people. For me “Best” was all about the longevity of the toy, how long a child would play with it and how long it would last with it being played with constantly? Could the toy stand up to the test of being treated sometimes rough and tumble by a toddler or a child?

Also toys are not cheap, or rather you can buy cheap plastic toys but we all know that they don’t last, they break, or need batteries.  I was finding these toys were not cutting it with my boys. Yes we had plastic toys, we had musical bongo drums, we had musical electric guitars, we had Hot Wheels track( we still do!), we had a few plastic ride on cars and bikes. But personally I found anything with batteries, highly annoying, like highly annoying! LOL. I know the kids enjoyed them, however I noticed it was never for long periods, it never engaged them longer than 5 mins and so this is why I started investigating ethical and eco friendly toys.

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Toy of the month – April 2017

This month it is all about trains!! I have found over the years as a mother that wooden trains are one of the best open ended toys and not just for boys either. They are a great gender neutral toy that can be played with from 1 year right up to adults 😉

My eldest received his first very small train set for his 1st birthday and we have grown the set each year with family and friends adding trains, tunnels, stations and more to make it into a little city. What I have found though is that wooden trains and track are not cheap, not at all which is why my boys have received most of their train track and accessories as birthday presents over the years ( with a few flea market purchases in Germany!)

My boys play with their train set on a weekly basis building, creating and exploring new track set ups and cities. They can honestly play for hours on end, just by using their imagination to create wonderful worlds of train exploration, such is the joy of this open ended toy.

As a brand representative for The Creative Toy shop, this year we were gifted a number of Hape wooden train toys and I wanted to share one of them with you, the Xylophone Melody Track, for this month’s review.

Brianna, the brains behind The Creative Toy Shop has created an wonderful selection of toys for her shop and uses her daily job as a special needs home educator and teacher to help her test out and decide on what toys she will offer. Originally a blogger, she has taken her blog to the next level and established one of the most gorgeous online toy shops in Australia. I am honestly in love with her toy shop and so excited and honoured to be working with her this year.

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Handy with Scissors Cardboard City

“Oh the places you’ll go… You’ll never be bored when you try something new. There’s really no limit to what you can do!”

What a magical, whimsical, fantastical and colourful place we visited last week at a school holiday program created by Handy with Scissors and Curiosity Works for Warriewood Square, our local shopping centre.

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8 year old BOY gift guide

So my first baby turned 8 this week! I am not quite sure how the years have flown by ever so quickly and how I suddenly have such a big boy… He has certainly made me a very proud Mama and he teaches me so much each and every day. I have definitely learnt a lot about patience, resilience, sleep deprivation and I can now negotiate better than any UN employee!

8 years old is starting to get into the “awesome” stage of life and gifts and moving away from the kiddy stage, so I found presents this year to be a little more tricky. They needed to be more rad and a little on trend.

In case any other mums, dads, grandparents or carers are also finding it hard to pick that gift for your 8 year boy, I thought I would share some of the presents that Master J received this week as well as some other gift ideas I know my 8 year old son would LOVE!

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Goodbyn is our new Hero

We were gifted a bento style lunchbox, the Goodbyn Hero from the brilliant site Munch Cupboard to test out and review. Given that I am really quite enamored with the Yumbox lunchboxes for the boys it was going to be a tough test and review!

The Goodbyn Hero is a larger style Bento lunchbox that comes with 3 main compartments as well as 2 separate storage containers. I love Bento style lunchboxes for the boys as the compartments mean the foods don’t get all mushed up with each other and visually lunch time looks exciting and we all know that kids are quite visual when it comes to eating food!

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Toy of the month – March 2017

This month is an exciting one my friends. This month is a celebration of how far toy making has come in Australia.

When I started Kids Gifts and Toys over 3 years ago and started researching toy brands worldwide, there was very little coming out of Australia that was designed and made in Australia.  In just a short space of time I have watched an incredible transformation and now I can happily say there is actually a handmade toy industry in Australia! I am super excited to be featuring “Monday the Plane” from Have a Nice Day toys for March’s “Toy of the month”; this is one Australian toy company that is making waves for all the right reasons.

Monday the Plane” is just one of 7 wooden toys created by former industrial designer Jake Diaz alongside his wife Dom Diaz who fronts up all the business and social media side of things. This husband and wife team based on the Gold Coast, are reinventing wooden toys and bringing back the simplicity and purity for a new generation of children.

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Munch lunchbox – new lunch ideas for kids!

We are already into Week 6 of the first term of School and I am struggling to find new and delicious lunchbox ideas for my eldest son! He is admittedly a little fussy but slowly over time and age we are breaking new ground and he now eats spinach, lettuce, basil, and he has even tried broccoli and liked it! Still working on tomatoes, avocado and capsicum and don’t even get me started on fruit besides apple and rockmelon…

Both my boys were great eaters up until they were about 2 years old, when they of course learnt how to say “no”. It has been struggle city ever since trying to get them to eat a regular amount of fruit and vegetables. Made all the more annoying, given that I am in fact a Vegequarian (I eat fish & seafood).

I have in the last few months been able to convince my eldest son to move on from cheese or honey sandwiches and we now have tuna, spinach, cheese and tomato salsa wraps for lunch! But I can’t make them day in and day out for him as he will soon tire of them.

So I was quite relieved to receive in the post a gifted copy of the brilliant “Munch Lunchbox” cookbook – by Anna Bordignon & Michelle Kitney. I have searched high and low for a decent, no fuss, easy lunch ideas for kids and I can honestly tell for ages 4+ years I haven’t found one, until now.

I am not much of a cook to be honest, baking yes, I love it but when it comes to cooking meals, I find it tiresome. Most likely because I have to cook at least 2 separate meals if I do a meat dish for the boys in the family and I do that 2-3 times a week. Just because I don’t eat meat, I don’t feel that my boys should have to follow my dietary habits.

But also I get sick of the arguments over dinner, don’t you? My youngest in particular says

” Arrrgh ( with a really excruciatingly dramatic whingey noise) do we have to eat this?”

“Yes, you do, I slaved away cooking Shepherds Pie for you and I don’t even eat meat! So yes you need to at least try it.”  Then the tantrums and waterworks start. Ahh dinner time is so peaceful with kids isn’t it?!

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World Book Day 2017

March 2nd is World Book day and is celebrated across 100 countries around the world. I know that Australia doesn’t celebrate it as much as countries like the UK and US but anything celebrating reading and books is something I want to be part of!

All this week I have been sharing on my Instagram account, some of our favourite books and as such I wanted to share these with you too!

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Toy of the month – February 2017

This month is a little follow on from last month’s awesome Marbotic Smart Numbers range. This month we look at the Smart Letters range from this fabulous French company.

The Smart Letters range is all about alphabet recognition, learning the sounds of the letters, getting familiar with lower, upper case and even cursive letters. It has varying degrees of difficulty but overall is best suited to 3- 10 years old.

I will say that although I have outlined a very extensive review of the Smart Letters range below, my children worked out how to complete each app and its variations intuitively without any of my guidance. However, for us adults, I found it most helpful to look up the parents corner in each app to read about what the app entailed.  I thought it would be useful to provide an overview for you to understand exactly what you get for your money.

The Smart letters range are distributed exclusively in Australia by Keld Industries who kindly sent me the range to test out and review.

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Upcycled furniture

With all the kids toys we have in our household we are in constant need of more storage for them! We use Lego storage boxes, canvas bags, fabric bags, wire baskets, and woven storage baskets to name but a few but I have had an idea in my head for a while now to source out another bookshelf for toy and book storage.

I was quite keen to try to find an old piece of furniture that we could upcycle to reduce down the impact on the environment as well as reduce down costs.

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Oomph and Floss

I am always on the look out for awesome kids clothes and I have to say I am quite partial to a print on my boys. I adore monochrome but it is hard with boys to keep black and white clothes clean, so I tend to mix and match.

One brand I am loving the look of ( I haven’t tried them yet) is Oomph and Floss! A bit of fun name and I am just obsessed with their prints. They released a new range last week, The Secret Sea Garden and I have to say I adore the colours used and love the sea horse print the most!

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Kids Activities – Valentines Day 2017

Ahh Lovers Day around the world, may love and happiness unite!! We don’t celebrate it all that much as I think everyday should be the day you say “I love you” to your loved ones. But it is still nice to think about your loved ones on Valentines day and how much they mean to you.

We made a little heart shaped dream catcher out of our Kwik Stix to celebrate Lovers day but also to help capture any bad dreams that my boys are having, which of late seems to be quite a few!

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Kids Books – My Color is Rainbow

We received in the post last week the incredibly stunning “My Color is Rainbow” children’s book from Hello, Wonderful and it has quickly become our fave new bedtime book.

In this ever changing and increasingly scary world, kindness, love and hope is what we wish this world was built on.

For our kids to only know kindness, light and peace is many parents dream. As parents we need to teach our children that through their own actions & kindness, they can make a difference in the world.

One such amazing mother who does this each and every day is the author of this amazing new book, Agnes Hsu.

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Toy of the month – January 2017

I hope you have started your 2017 with joy, love and happiness and that this year you have set many mindful intentions to perhaps be less busy, be more present and to enjoy each and every day.

I have had the boys the past 6 weeks over the summer school holidays and normally I am a little apprehensive as to how I will keep them entertained but this holidays seemed, well a little easier. As they get older there is more interaction, sustained play and for a longer period of time. There have been tantrums don’t get me wrong, they have been loud and long but perhaps parenting is getting that teeny tiny bit easier…well until next week when things will no doubt change again.

This month sees us review the brilliant French Marbotics range. This is a range that I took notice of last year as I was intrigued by the idea of mixing wooden toys and technology. The Smart numbers and Smart letters range are distributed exclusively in Australia by Keld Industries who kindly sent me the range to test out and review.

After realising this review will become much too long for you my lovely readers, I have decided to split out the review and for January review Smart Numbers and for February, Smart Letters. Each product deserves its own review as there are 18 different applications across the 3 free apps provided. This product is one where you definitely get your money’s worth!

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Kids Activities – Kwik Stix – awesome mess free painting!

With the start of school this week in Australia, I thought I would get into the school mood with my next few posts!

I know a lot of parents don’t like to attempt too much art and craft at home because of the mess. They prefer to leave these messy creative activities to when the child is at preschool, day care or school so they don’t have to manage the mess themselves!

I totally get it as with toddlers in particular, after you have taken 15 minutes say to set up, they have painted their picture in 2 seconds and moved on to the next activity! Mummy, keep up, I have moved on from that paint session and now I want to play with blocks or lego or play dress ups…

Yep I totally understand it and find creative sessions can get messy and a little stressed filled with paint, water, sparkles or feathers flying all over the place.

So what would you say to a fun creative painting session with your child but completely mess free? Yup, uh huh, I am telling the truth here, no joke and its name is, wait for it, Kwik Stix!! Oh sorry did I mention it was quick too! Of course it is.

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Candylab Toys Town

The boys were extremely lucky at Christmas to be gifted some incredible Candylab toy cars from Keld Industries, the Australian distributor of these awesome US designed cars.

We are long time fans of Candylab Toys having helped to crowd fund their second campaign by buying up the second edition of cars that they designed in 2015. We have added to our collection over their 3 Kickstarter campaigns and we are hoping for a 4th campaign this year, c’mon Vlad and team!

As it is summer school holidays the boys and I thought we should give our cars a new home, so we started to create a garage town out of cardboard boxes and paint. And yes, they may have racing stripes on the garages as well as the car numbers on the side of the garages, just so we know which garage they live in!

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Goldfish toy shop – where all kids dreams come true!

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful festive season with your family and friends! We had a relaxing Christmas and we felt very lucky to take a summer holiday down to the south coast of NSW with the kids. Our first proper summer break since moving back from Europe more than 2 years ago.

I wanted to share with you a little shop we visited in Berry on our drive home as it was truly a magical toy store, one that as you enter, you gasp and look around in sheer wonder and delight at all the gorgeous toys surrounding you.

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Meet the Maker – Dinoraw

Following on from my post last month about the fabulous new Australian brand Dinoraw, I wanted to get to know the maker behind the brand, Sarah Kermode.

I love that this Sarah, mother of 2 sons, Jack and Ted is now producing gorgeous dinosaur prints and I will be honest, I think they are THE best out there for any Dino loving child. With a retro vibe, classically playful yet educational for kids, these prints are just ahhmazing!

So let’s find out more about her inspirations, aspirations and how she goes about perfecting her dino drawings.

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A truly gorgeous Christmas Bazaar

Thank you to all those who attended Sunday’s Christmas Bazaar and what a gorgeous morning you helped to create!

With shopping GALORE, gorgeous tunes from Cairyn Jay, obstacle course fun from Ready Steady Go Kids, candle making, pre loved toy sale, face painting, kids acro yoga on the grass by Flying Yogis which looked incredibly fun, Micador chalk walk, large scale colouring in, the creative corner and signing a Christmas card for charity all on offer, it was a fantastic local event once again. Supporting handmade and small businesses is what we strive for and love to do!

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Toy of the month – November 2016

Wow I can’t believe it is my last toy review for the year *, where has 2016 gone?! It has been such a whirlwind year and I am sure you are all feeling the same way!

With Christmas coming one of our fave toys in the house are board games. We have about 20 of them already from memory to Monopoly to Shopping List to Hungry Hippos and our collection grows each year at Christmas.

This month I wanted to review a true board game classic, Twister! They celebrated 50 years this year in September and we were sent the game to test and out and review.

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