Monday, February 23, 2009

A favorite - Haba's Tack Zap

When Elfie was almost three (15 years ago!), her absolute favorite activity at her Montessori preschool was hammering little shapes onto a cork board. Haba's Geo Shape Tack Zap ($22.99) offers the same fun, learning activity for home use.

This game, intended for ages 3 and up because of the obvious choking hazard, contains 50 wooden geometric tiles, a small bag of tiny nails, a cork board and a wooden hammer. Each tile has a small hole where the child can fit the nail and then hammer it to the board. The geometric shapes allow for all kinds of creative hammering. A larger 100 tile set is also available ($32.90).

So, after remembering how much Elfie loved hammering little shapes into cork board, I bought a set for Arielle when she was almost three. Arielle adored it, but I put it away when Linnea started climbing and getting into things. Recently, I was assembling a bookshelf and to avoid "help", I took it out again. Linnea discovered the joy of hammering nails for herself. At first, it was a challenge, but after a few tries, she figured it out and she is so proud.

Because the parts are small and the tacks are sharp, use your good parental judgment about whether your child is ready.

Of course, Arielle didn't like sharing, so I bought a second set, the Haba Figure Tack and Hammer Set ($31.90). This set includes people and animal figures and makes a nice addition to the geometric shapes in our first set. For fairness, I mixed them together.

Now both girls (supervised) can spend amazingly long amounts of time tap-tapping away. No fighting and no mess. Here's the pictures.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Share the Joy sale at Hazelnut Kids

Enjoy 25% off your Hazelnut Kids order with the code "25INFEB",good through Febrary 28th. Also, check out their "deals of the day"for special prices.

Toy Recall Finder

Parent's magazine just launched a Toy and Product Recall Finder that you can use to check for information on toys that you own. I'll post a link in the sidebar.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

CPSIA Update and more handmade toys from Etsy

First the good news , CPSC issued a 1 year stay on some requirements of the CPSIA and has exempted some natural materials and fabrics known not to contain lead. As of February 10th, toys have to meet the new standards for lead and phthallates (YAY!!!!), but third party testing and certification is not yet required. Hopefully, this will give law makers the opportunity to change the law in a way that will allow small manufacturers and hand made toys makers to stay in business.

The Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA) is asking for:

A) Component testing - if all the materials in a product are certified as safe, they'd like for that to count for certification.

B) They are asking for more exemptions of natural materials that do not contain lead.

C) Finally, they would like to NOT have to do “batch marking” on handmade toys. Imagine a big tag on a Juicy Bug; not nearly as cute. Since it's pretty hard to find space for a tag on a little needle felted doll, they would like to seek other options -- perhaps an enclosed card with materials, name of the maker and date of manufacture?

Thank you for all your votes on The HTA proposal did make the top ten and they will have some help getting these changes. And, you can click on the teddy bear in the side bar to find out how you can help.

So, since we can still buy from Etsy, one more Etsy post :o) and then back to other things.

Valentine's Day came and went, and while I really like Rosemary for Remembrance for little Valentine's gifts. I think they are perfect for small presents anytime.

I bought a pink heart for Arielle last year, and it has been a favorite accessory since. This year, I bought necklaces with removable dolls for both girls.

Right now she has adorable little vegetable necklaces (around $10.50). I bought a pea and a carrot for our Easter baskets.

One of our readers, Cindy, wanted me to mention Geppetto's Wooden Toys. She especially likes these little wooden cannons that are just $5. She says "They have opened the door to endless fun for my 4.5 year old son and his friends. They don't look like much in the photo, but each one is BEAUTIFULLY crafted all with slightly different wood grains, colors, and detail." I thought I'd pass this along.

AsherJasper is a great source for wonderfully needle-felted balls ($15 each, $4.50 for mini balls). Arielle prefers the birds, but the farm animals are particularly cute.

Here are Arielle's birds tucked into their nest. They have a jingle bell deep inside the wool which would be fun for a younger child.

I love Beneath the Rowan Tree and check often to see what wonders Lori has come up with. She has play silks, felted wool balls ($10) and other natural toys. I think her lady bugs ($50) are a unique and beautiful learning toy.

Moonchild Studio makes little Mushroom Moondrop babies ($10 each). Linnea has a few that she likes to tuck under play silks or tote around in a basket. These Waldorf-style babies are perfectly safe for small children - just right for little hands, but too big to choke on if chewed - but, they also make a nice addition to a spring nature's table.

Linnea's babies in a basket.

And finally German Dolls. I have been admiring Ulla Seckler's Waldorf-style dolls and accessories for some time. I love the dresses with the pocket babies - just too cute!