Friday, October 22, 2010

10% off at Carl & Me

Looking for wooden toys for the holidays? Carl and Me: Exceptional Toys For Boys (and girls!)offers a selection of safe, woden toys from the USA and Europe suitable for children from babies to teens.

NIC Wooden Toys - Creamobil Little Men 'Pico' ($12.00)

Small Stacking Man ($24.00)

Scalino Bell Tower Set ($78.00)

Carl & Me is especially great for unusual construction toys - the kind my older son Merlin loved when he was in elementary/middle school (and still occasionally plays with at almost 21!).  If you have the kind of child who loves to build and make things work, definitely check out Carl & Me.

Sara's Toy Box readers can take 10% off through the holidays with code "SARA".

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Beautiful Toys, $5 off: Bella Luna Toys

Hi Readers,

I'd like to introduce you to a new favorite, Bella Luna Toys.  Bella Luna Toys is owned by a Waldorf teacher, Sarah Baldwin, who chooses each toy with care.

The small tree house ($89.95) is a fair trade toy made in Vietnam out of sustainably harvested wood.  But, mostly it's really cute.  I can picture little gnomes and fairies having a tea party .

If you need gnomes, Bella Luna has gnomes. Or, you can make your own using the Forest Gnome Family Kit ($19.95).  These would look so cute peeking out of a stocking.  I may need to make some for Arielle's stocking.

So many beautiful choices! Check out the lovely Waldorf toys and art supplies at Bella Luna and take $5.00 of your first order with the coupon code "Sara5".


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fractiles-7 Review and Giveaway from Toys and Games Online

When my friend Sara said she could use some extra help to write reviews for Sara's Toy Box, I jumped at the opportunity. I have been a huge fan of her blog for a few years now and my boys and I absolutely love toys. The boys are a bit less particular than I am, but that does not stop me from trying to find beautiful, useful, educational, and safe toys for them to play with.

For my family’s first review, I selected Fractiles-7 from Toys and Games I actually selected the large Fractiles-7 set($39.95) and the Fridge Fractiles set (only an additional $10.95) since I have two little boys and I knew there would be some fighting over this toy once they figured out how cool it was.

Fractiles-7 is basically a magnetic puzzle. But it is also more than a puzzle. Fractiles consists of versatile flexible diamond shaped tiles that can be combined and recombined into an infinite number of designs. The large Fractiles set has 192 tiles and a 12”x12” textured black steel board to easily create your geometric designs. Fridge Fractiles has 48 magnetic tiles and does not come with an activity board as it is meant for your kitchen refrigerator. This is great for my family since my boys love spending time with me in the kitchen while I prepare dinner and I am always scrambling to find activities to keep them occupied so I have the time and space to properly prepare said dinner.

Toys and Games shipped my order very quickly, and I was very pleased when I found my package on the front porch. I loved the minimal packaging of my Fractiles sets. The large set is packaged in what is basically an old-fashioned album cover which makes clean-up and storage of the set very easy. There are tons of colorful examples of Fractiles designs as well as some information on symmetry and the basic geometry behind the diamond shapes that make them fit together into endless combinations.
I love the educational aspect of this information even though I feel the concept is a bit above where my boys currently are in their math comprehension. After all, one is only in kindergarten and the other is in his first year of pre-school. Even though I may not share the information with them explicitly, they really are learning the concepts by simply playing around, copying or making their own designs with this toy. I couldn’t wait to take a closer look at the new toy and decided to open it while the boys were still in school. I have to admit, once I opened it and discovered that the tiles were all stuck together in a large piece, I was a bit disappointed. I examined the pieces and it didn’t appear to me that they were pre-cut, so I pulled out the scissors and began cutting.
Luckily, it did not take me long to discover that the pieces actually do easily bend and pull apart and I was able to put away the scissors and decided to save even the taking apart of the tiles as a project to work on with the boys. Pulling the Fractiles tiles apart is a great work for developing fine motor activity in little hands and my boys happily helped me pull apart and sort the tiny magnetic tiles.
The boys were immediately engaged with the Fractiles sets. Both the large set and the fridge set come with a lot of images showing so many creations you can make with the tiles. This is a great way to build confidence in using the set for younger children who aren’t sure where to start with the Fractiles. I encouraged the boys to choose something they liked from the pictures on the sleeve and try to copy it. It wasn’t long before both my boys were trying out their own creations with the tiles and this is where the real fun began. My younger son will make something new and can’t wait to show me. Once I take a look, I get an explanation of what his creation represents and it almost always ends with the question, “Am I the coolest artist-invention ever?” (By the way, "artist-invention" was not a typo. This is his actual quote). I am especially enjoying Fridge Fractiles in this aspect. I come into the kitchen and frequently find a new design. It is fun trying to guess which of my little “artist-inventors” created the new masterpiece.
We are very happy with our newest toy! Both boys will sit and play with Fractiles with dedicated concentration for quite a while and feel a sense of pride when they have created something. I feel happy because they are subtly being education on patterns and symmetry which are two important concepts for geometry. Fractiles are also made in the U.S.A. and are lead and phthalate free. We love this toy so much, we are definitely planning on getting a few of the Travel Fractiles sets from Toys and Games Online ($24.95) to give as birthday gifts for classmates of my kindergartner.

Now, the really fun part! Sara's Toy Box is giving you an opportunity to win a $25 gift card (perfect for Travel Fractiles) from Toys and Games Online. Simply go to to view their great selection of educational toys and games. Then come back here to Sara's Toy Box and leave us a comment about which toy you would select along with your contact information. You can also enter by sending us the toy selection in an e-mail or a message on Facebook.

Monday, October 18, 2010

And the winner of the Kiddo Tags is....

She wins a pack of 30 Mini Kiddo Tags with a free *dwink* Box Holder in pink or blue. Congratulations!

So sorry for the delay. We have been the house of sickness and it's been hard to get anything done.

By the way, I finally ironed on our iron-on Kiddo Tags. It was easy once I got over my aversion to plugging in the iron. The round name labels fit perfectly on a tag and I don't have to worry about Linnea's gloves ending up in the lost-and-found.

Safe Nail Polish from Piggy Paint

For our second review at Sara's Toy Box I enlisted the help of my oldest daughter, Emma, she's 11 years old and in the 6th grade -- She and her sisters wanted to have a little 'make over' party today -- which for them is an excuse to paint nails, fix hair and wear lip gloss --

We got a couple of colors of wonderfully safe nail polish from Piggy Paint -- this would be great for smaller children who still put their hands in their mouths and for pre-teens who want to not smell like a nail salon and who would like to have safe nail polish for their little piggies ...

Emma started by painting her sister's toes ...

They're a nice mix of pink and yellow because they couldn't decide! I love those little toes.

Then Emma went on to paint their fingers in a similar mix of colors.

And naturally she had to paint her own nails as well ... she went with just pink -- you know, when you're nearly grown it's easier to decide ...

Piggy Paint has a new line of TWEEN nail polish that is colorful, safe and super fun -- they even have a new glow-in-the dark polish, "Radioactive" that would be so fun at a sleep over. You can use it over an existing color or alone -- just a few coats for maximum glow and you've made someone's day.

As hard as it is to find presents for tween girls -- this would make a wonderful gift for any young lady -- great in a stocking, and they can share it with their little sisters and friends without worry about toxins and nasty smells.

Piggy Paint is offering readers of Sara's Toy Box a 10% off coupon code AND free domestic shipping on orders over $35. The coupon code is TOYZ10L and it expires on December 15, 2010 - plenty of time for holiday shopping!

GIVEAWAY!!! -- One Sara's Toy Box reader will win a $15 gift certificate to Piggy Paint. Just go to Piggy Paint, shop around and post a comment here or send us an email saying what you would get for the sweet tween or little princess in your life or tell us your favorite color and you'll be entered in the contest. Make sure you give us some contact info so we can let you know if you win!

We'll announce the winner on Halloween.  Piggy Paints are also the perfect accessory for your little witch or goblin - green nails (a gorgeous color called Dragon Tears), you think?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Buy Handmade Week!

American Craft Week runs from October 1-10 and The Handmade Toy Alliance is asking us to pledge to buy handmade at least once this holiday season.  Click here to sign the Pledge to Buy Handmade.

We say avoiding mass produced toys and treating our children to lovingly created clothing and toys is no hardship.  Need ideas?

Here are some suggestions:

Linnea hates coats, but she loves her poncho ($46.00) from Skipping Hippos. The ponchos, jackets and coats are the site are all made in the U.S.A. out of CPSIA-compliant materials.  And, right now, many of them are on sale!

Linnea gets compliments every where we go.

Hip Mountain Mama offers this Gnome Family ($15.99) made from 100% reclaimed Walnut and finished with a safe and natural mineral oil.  They are made by The Original Tree Swing, a family-based business in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Doesn't this look like fun?

Speaking of fun wooden toys,  Oregon mom Willow Baus makes beautiful handmade toys which she sells from her Etsy shop, Tweet by Willow Baus.  I am totally enamored with these toys.  I ordered a covered wagon for Linnea's birthday.  I'll let you know how she likes it.

Covered Wagon ($20)

Hanging Mobile ($40)

Sail Boat ($18)

And, check out the eco-friendly plush animals and baby toys at Ecoleeko. I have a few of these in my office right now (donations for our auction's baby gift basket) and they are oh so soft.

MooBelle ($32)

You can find handmade at Etsy, at your local farmer's markets and craft fairs, and through the Handmade Toy Alliance.  Remember, handmade helps your local economy and the Earth.  If each of us buys only a few handmade items this holiday season, it can make a big difference.