Did you see we have a new coupon code from A Toy Garden? It's one of my very favorite 0n-line toy stores and I just love browsing through seeing what is new and looking for treasures. Here are some products that we enjoy.
Extra-Large Rainbow Arches ($79.95)
I've been admiring these forever, but then we saw these very artsy and fun pictures of our friend Tess, and I finally decided to make good use of our discount code. Tess is 2 1/2 - just like Linnea.
The arches are made in Germany. The bright colors are plant dyed and are absolutely safe for children who still mouth their toys.
What an incredibly open ended toy. They can be played with as a stacker or as blocks or in combination with other toys. There is a lot of play value in this.
There are 12 arches and the largest is 14 1/2 inches wide. We already had the smaller medium stacker ($34.95). It was one of my first reviews and still a very popular toy in our household. The extra-large stacker is more than just the smaller one super-sized; there is something super fun about playing with the large pieces. Big is good?
Ari decided that she was going to build a playground for Kangaroo and Penguin. Here they are on the see-saw.
Check out this masterpiece!
Arches also make good cages for very wild dinosaurs.
Wax-O-Glass Window Crayons ($10.95)
"Wax-O-Glass" window crayons are soft crayons made in Germany by Lyra. They do require a little supervision when used by younger children. Linnea always manages to get them all over herself. But, they are very safe and they clean right up with a damp cloth.
I use them to decorate the living room window with birthday messages or with pictures on special days. They also are a great distraction when I'm doing something and I don't want "help". Yesterday, I used them to distract the girls while I hooked up the wires after moving the TV.
Older children could use these to draw on car windows during long trips. Any residue easily cleans up with a rag and vinegar or natural window cleaner.
Make Your Own Family ($9.95)
Make Your Own Family is a collection of 20 peg people that can be decorated to represent a child's own family and friends. There are 8 large people, 2 3/8" tall by 7/8" at the base; 6 medium people, 2" tall by 7/8" at the base; and 6 small people, 1 5/8" tall by 5/8" at the base. A Toy Garden will also be introducing very large peg people that are 3 1/2 inches tall and 1" at the base.
Sonya suggests dying them in coffee or tea for skin tone variation. We used colored pencils, markers, bits of ribbon, felt and wool roving, and sticky jewels.
The colored pencils didn't work so well.
When the girls were finished, they were quite proud of the results.
And, they had a great time playing with their creations.
Linnea's "family". They are all named "Daddy".
The plain, unfinished wood figures can also be used as is. We saved the rest for block play and to use with the...
Foldable Gnome House ($19.95)
The Foldable Gnome House is made of three inter-locking pieces of wood and can be used as a tree-trunk, house, barn, super secret hideout, coral reef or whatever background is required for gnome or small doll play. It's size suits a diversity of dolls and creatures that are smaller than the typical dollhouse size. And, you can add a playsilk for even more versatility.
Its free form shape adapts to become pretty much anything. It folds into a Z shape or lays flat but does not fold all the way together. It is 19 inches by 8 1/2 inches and can easily fit into a suitcase or carry-on bag for travel - just add a few dolls or gnomes.
The Foldable Gnome House is constructed of unfinished, solid wood. It is made in the USA exclusively for A Toy Garden.
Fairy Mugs ($9.95)
One thing that surprises other parents, is that my children use real dishes. Even as a baby, Linnea used real china and real glasses (although smaller). I believe that eating from the same dishes as the rest of the family sets an expectation for appropriate table behavior. Linnea, of course, is still working on this.
These sweet mugs are made in Germany of white porcelain and are decorated with one of six flower fairy images (your choice). Each mug is 2 3/4" tall and holds about 6 ounces.
Linnea has the Chickory Flower Fairy and Arielle chose the Canterbury Bell Flower Fairy. They use their mugs to drink their morning orange juice.
Mini Clothes Pins ($1.95)
Finally, I usually add a set of 24 mini wood clothes pins to my order. These are made in China, but I use the red, blue, green and yellow clothes pins to hang up artwork and decorations rather than for play. I just hang up embroidery floss to match my wall color, and then it is easy to display the latest, greatest of the mountain of artwork my girls produce.
When a new masterpiece is created, I take down the old one and put it in a large laundry basket reserved just for art. When the basket is full, I go through it. A little bit of time makes it so much easier to decide what gets saved, reused as gift wrap or recycled.
While they could be used by an older child to do a doll's laundry, the clothespins are tiny (about an inch and require better fine motor skills than standard size clothes pins. Sonya tells me that the clothespins have been tested by her supplier and are safe.
Don't forget to use our coupon code. Our readers receive 10% off orders over $30, with the code "stbsummer09", expires 6/15/2009.