Tag Archives: haba

Hopping Toward Easter

Are you ready for the Easter Bunny to hop into your house? Fill your little ones’ baskets (and tummies) with these fun, spring items.

Shakin Eggs (HABA USA)

Haba EggsThese eggs are perfect for baskets and never go bad. The kids will love them—not only for their bright colors, but also for the fun sounds they make. Each box contains a set of five colored beech wood eggs (and yes, the paint is safe and non-toxic, since we all know kiddies are going to try to put them into their mouths). Each egg makes a different sound (one jingles, another rattles, and so on), so your little bunny can make plenty of seasonal music. Recommended for ages 2 and up, but we think they’re okay for younger kids as well, since they’re too big to fit in the mouth and there are no small parts. About $20 at a retailer near you or at http://www.habausa.com

Cheekeez Bunny and Lamb (Aurora)

Aurora plushNo basket is complete without a sweet, fluffy toy, and Aurora makes some high quality plush toys that kids of all ages will want to cuddle up with year round. Among our faves for this season, though, are the Cheekeez Bunny ($9) and the oh-so-soft Lamb ($15.50). Available at gift stores like Hallmark or at http://www.auroragift.com/

Limited Edition Easter Toys (Skylanders)

Skylanders limited editionFor your gamer, Skylanders has released two limited edition, exclusive Easter themed toys for the Skylanders SuperChargers game. Spring Ahead Dive Bomber ($14.99) is a new vehicle that the Skylanders have disguised as an Easter egg to protect their bounty! The Skylanders figures can also interact and ride inside the Bomber within the game, adding a new layer of fun. Also out for the holiday is Eggcited Thrillipede ($12.99) who, with an extra set of arms, is the reigning Dragon Egg Toss Champion. Maybe this year, he’ll defend his title with Easter Eggs. Available at Game Stop, Toys R Us, and other stores that carry video games.

Gift Baskets (GourmetGiftBaskets.com)

Easter-Bunny-Gift-Basket-ClassicIf you’re not in the mood to create your own basket, you ran out of time, or your little chicks live far from you, not to worry! You can send your hugs and chocolate kisses by mail and if you order soon, they’ll get there in time for Easter. GourmetGiftBaskets.com has a huge selection of pre-made baskets that will please any gift-ee. For example, there’s the Gift Basket for Men, Premium Wine Spa Gift Basket, Sugar Free Gift Basket (for the diabetic in your life), Happy Easter Brownie Cake, and lots more. For families with more than one child, check out the Double-Bunny Easter Basket, which comes with two of everything: candies, chocolate bunnies, and, of course, stuffed toys. Prices vary. Visit www.GourmetGiftBaskets.com

Inspiring Ideas (Tastefully Simple)

tastefully simpleIf you want to make sure your special Easter celebration comes off perfectly, but you maybe aren’t the whiz in the kitchen you wish you were, you’ll find plenty of ideas, menus, recipes, and packages that will ensure that everything goes according to plan. You’ll still need to pick up the ham (or whatever you’re making) and the fresh items, but Tastefully Simple will guide you through every step of the planning, shopping, and cooking process. They’ve got plenty of inspiration, tutorials for making amazing-looking food that you’re definitely going to want to share on Instagram—even if you’re no Martha Stewart—and lots of time saving mixes for brownies, truffles, and more. You’re going to love the way your food turns out. https://www.tastefullysimple.com

Minions and Dinos: Separated at Birth?

At first glance, you wouldn’t think that Minions and dinosaurs have very much in common (aside from being the subject of summer blockbuster movies). But they’ve both been around since the dawn of time. In fact, according to the story, Minions evolved long before the dinos did. If the success of those movies is any indication, both will be around for another hundred million years or so. Here are a few of our favorites.

minion kevin storage chestMinions Movie Kevin Storage Chest (Jakks Pacific)
When playtime’s over, it can be a real chore to get the kids to help put their toys away. One approach that tends to make things easier is to turn clean-up into a game. And Jakks Pacific’s new Minions Storage Chest is just the ticket. The chest itself is a giant (well, 20 inches high) Kevin, decked out in his denim overalls and gloves. But despite his size, he manages to retain his cuteness (and what would a Minion be without cuteness?). Pop open his head and your kids can stuff Kevin with all of their other Despicable Me and Minion Movie toys and gear. Or they can use the inside shelves to display things in a more organized way. But either way, those slightly crossed eyes and wry smile make him hard to resist. Ages 3+. $54.99 at Amazon and other retailers.

minion beach partyDespicable Me Minion Beach Party set (MEGA BLOKS)
We’ve already established that Minions are cute .But how’d you like to take a crack at designing your own? Well, now you can. MEGA BLOKS has a whole series of delightful mini-scenes that feature Minions in a variety of environments. The Beach Party set includes one Minion, a beach blanket, parasol, plant, table, glass, and an ice cream cone. But by far the coolest feature is that all the pieces of the Minons are interchangeable, meaning you can swap their shorts, goggle, arms, feet, and accessories. Want two eyes, a hula skirt, a Mohawk, and a crown? Easy. One eye, a winter coat, a pirate bandana, and a sword? Okay too. Ages 5+.  https://kids.megabloks.com/en-us/toys/despicable-me-minions

dino silicone molds habaDinosaur Silicone Cake Mold (HABA USA)
Getting kids into the kitchen—and giving them something productive to do—has always been a challenge. But these silicone molds from HABA will get even the most reluctant food preparer interested. This cute silicon T-Rex mold lets little kids get in on the Jurassic craze, even if they’re afraid of big dinos. And who could be afraid of a smiling T-Rex—especially when she’s made of cake? Comes with booklet with three easy-to-make recipes. Ages 4+. $19.99 at http://www.habausa.com/

Dinosaur Parade Silicone Chocolate Lollipops Mold (HABA USA)
If you’re into baking, your favorite cupcake recipe (or one of the ones in the included booklet) will let you make adorable, fun cake pops. But if you’re looking for a way to cool off, you can just as easily use these molds to make adorable, fun popsicles. And what’s especially great about these silicone molds is that whatever you make pops out incredibly easily and leaves almost no mess behind. Ages 4+. $11.99. http://www.habausa.com/

interactive t-rex animal planetInteractive T-Rex (Animal Planet)
Tyrannosaurus Rex was a 40-foot-long, eight-ton package of vicious, carnivorous ferociousness. But this Interactive T-Rex is anything but ferocious. Yes, he roars, swings his tail and his head, stomps his feet, gnashes his teeth, and his eyes light up. But if you scratch him in the right place, he purrs. Touch somewhere else, and he snores, burps, or farts. And if you touch two places at the same time, well, we’re not going to give that one away. Ages 3+. Available at Toys R Us.

You’re Imagining the Whole Thing

Imagination is a wonderful thing. But in an era of “teaching to the test” and laser focus on grades and performance, it’s in short supply. A large body of research shows that children who engage in imaginative play have larger vocabularies, think more flexibly and creatively, and do better in school than less imaginative kids. And as they get older, those children turn into adults who have more empathy for others, work better on teams, are more adaptable, and generally have more fulfilling careers. And it all starts with stories. Here are some of our favorite imagination- and creativity-stimulating toys.

safari figurinesFigurines (Safari LTD)
Safari LTD makes a dizzying variety of figurines that are perfect for imaginative play. Whether your children’s fantasy world takes them to a farm, a faraway land, under the sea, or has them playing with mythological creatures (or maybe a mash up of the above), Safari’s figurines will be at their side for years to come. They’re fun to collect and meticulously detailed and painted, so your first reaction may be to put them on a shelf and admire them. But they’re quite sturdy, meaning they can survive a dog attack, being tossed out a window (not that your child would ever do that), or a washing machine adventure. You’ll find creatures in all shapes and sizes at https://www.safariltd.com/

haba puppetsPuppets (HABA USA)
HABA puppets are great for children of any age (HABA recommends age 1 and up, but as they’re soft and don’t have any loose parts or buttons, they’re okay for younger kids too.) HABA’s puppets easy to manipulate—one finger for the head, thumb for one arm, and middle finger for the other—and their cheery, smiling faces make them irresistible. You can get individual puppets or assemble groups of themed characters such as Red Riding Hood and a royal family for more involved stories. There’s also a whole line of delightful finger puppets. Oh, and they’re machine washable (hang to dry) too. Most are around $15. Visit http://www.habausa.com for choices.

folkmanis puppetsPuppets (Folkmanis)
With their attention to detail and creative designs, Folkmanis puppets are visually stunning. They’re also as plush as high-end stuffed animals. That combination makes mom and dad want to play with them as much as the kids do. The puppets vary in size and articulation, but they’re always wonderfully unique, with wings that flap, heads that spin, tails that uncurl, tongues that stick out, and more. Some of them are easy for small hands, but some require five fingers, and others need two adult-sized hands to operate. These puppets will get everyone’s imagination working. If your dragon breathes fire on imaginary an imaginary villages and kidnaps the LEGO residents, you can send brave knights up to vanquish it. Or maybe the hero is a princess from a neighboring kingdom. There are literally hundreds of puppets. See all the newest ones at http://www.folkmanis.com

yottoy girl scout dollGirl Scouts Friendship Dolls (YOTTOY)
YOTTOY brings fantasy and real life together with its new line of soft Girl Scouts Friendship Dolls. These dolls promote what the Girl Scouts are all about: friendship, diversity, and taking care of the community. They also bring in an element of fun and personal style. One especially nice feature is that they come in several ethnicities, which means that your child can play with characters who look just like her (or close to it) and create her own Girl Scout meetings, go on camping trips, or sell cookies. Friendship Dolls retail for around $17 at YOTTOY, Walmart, and GirlScouts.com. Or visit http://girlscoutsfriendship.yottoy.com/where

Camping with Kids, Part 2

Last week, we talked about some tents and sleeping bags. But if you’re really going to go camping, you’ll need more than that to make a successful adventure. Here are a few more of our favorite take-alongs.

Lights
Since camping typically involves an overnight, it’s important to think about how you’re going to get around in the dark (say, to and from the bathroom, from the campfire back to the tent, or even just getting undressed and finding your sleeping bag). While some kids may love feeling their way around by starlight, many will need the comfort of a lantern or flashlight.

HABA Terra Kids Lantern (HABA USA)
HABA kids lantern parents@playOne of the problems with battery-operated lighting is that kids never remember to turn them off, which leaves you literally in the dark. The HABA Terra Kids lantern solves that by using an easy-to-turn crank to charge the bright, easy-to-see-by LED lights. So your little ones can keep their light shining all night long—or at least until they fall asleep. This well-built, sturdy lantern comes with a padded handle and a neoprene cover. It also sports a built-in compass (perfect for little explorers), a detachable karabiner, and
an alarm whistle so the kids can alert you if they aren’t able to find their way home with the compass. $39.99. http://www.afterschool.com

Bibi Bee Kids’ Flashlight (Melissa and Doug)
bibi bee flashlight parents@playFor the little ones, Melissa and Doug’s Bibi Bee Kid’s Flashlight will be an instant hit and may give them a little more confidence to explore. The bright bee stripes and happy face are great for scaring away nighttime monsters. This lantern takes AA batteries, which are well hidden by a childproof panel that keeps kids from removing them. However, you’ll need to bring a small Phillips screwdriver, otherwise you won’t be able to get to the batteries either. $12.99. http://www.melissaanddoug.com

ThermaCELLOutdoor Lantern (ThermaCell)
thermacell lantern parents@playLanterns are great for lighting, but they also tend to attract mosquitos and other bugs. This lantern manages to combine a good quality, fully functional LED light source with insect repellant. This lantern is non-toxic, silent, odor-free, and instead of DEET, keeps bugs away with allethrin (a version of a natural insecticide found in chrysanthemum flowers). The ThermaCELL weighs only 13 ounces, and 4 AA batteries provide up to 12 hours of power. $29.99. http://www.thermacell.com/

Let’s Go Fishing
fishing gear parents@playCamping trips are a great time introduce the kids to fishing—and to the time-honored practice of telling stories about “the one that got away.” The Zebco 33 Spincast Combo ($29.99) is an excellent option for both newbies and more experienced anglers. It also comes pre-spooled, which is nice for everyone. We also liked using the Rapala Original Floating Lure ($8-$13) as twitch bait. Both are available. At Afterschool.com. They also carry everything from rods, reels, poles, and tackle for dad, to character poles for the kids (even pink ones for those little princesses who still want to play in the mud and water). http://www.afterschool.com

Quit Bugging Me
bekool itch patch parents@playWhether or not you’re near the water, don’t forget the bug spray. Natrapel Bug Spray (available at drugstores everywhere) is not only effective, but is DEET-free and safer for everyone in the family. Unfortunately, even the best insect repellant doesn’t get 100 percent of the bugs. And even if it could, there’s always poison ivy and poison oak. The Itch Relief Patches from BeKool ($4.99 for a package of 18, http://www.bekoool.com/) not only relive the pain and itching, but also provide a physical barrier to prevent scratching.

Building Blocks of Success

There’s a reason blocks have been a part of just about every child’s toy box for hundreds of years: Building things with blocks (and in my house, knocking them down) is just plain fun. But fun is just the beginning. Blocks teach children about colors, shapes, proportions, patterns, spatial relationships, physics, experimentation, and design. They also build hand-eye coordination and stimulate creative thinking—and they have the remarkable ability to adapt to your child’s physical and intellectual age—the older the child, the more complex her block play will be. Best of all, playing with blocks is a great opportunity for parents and kids to hang out together, learn from each other, and strengthen their relationship. Here are some of our favorites.

Nanoblocks
nanoblocksParents and kids can spend time together building a variety of animals and architectural sites from around the world. Since many of the nanoblock sets represent well-know buildings, dads who enjoy architecture will enjoy the process and teaching kids about the original buildings. The one caveat is that these blocks truly are “nano” in size compared to the common Lego-style blocks. Nanoblocks require good eyesight and nimble fingers to control, but they’re great for building attention span, focus, and fine motor skills. We also like the “nano-sized” price point that makes these easily a tenth the cost of the architecture collection of the major competitor. Ages 6+,www.mynannoblock.com

Building Blocks Technics
We love Haba’s wooden toys, and this set of blocks and wheels is no exception. What makes this kit extra special, though, is that it introduces young builders to the concept of adding motion to their block creations. More and more research points to the value of using basic toys to stimulate a child’s imagination. And for dad and mom, playing imagination games is a great way to connect with the kids on their level. Ages 3+, www.habausa.com

Makedo Freeplay Kit
makedoWhat a cool concept. The Makedo (pronounced Make Doo—as in, “we’ll have to make do with what we have around the house”), is a container filled with reusable connectors that can help dads and kids turn even the most useless pile of recycling into a great project. Got a few scraps of fabric, an old oatmeal can, an empty tissue box, and a few toilet paper tubes? You can build a robot. Or a plane. Or anything else you can think of. As overused as the expression is, this truly is one of those cases where the only limit is your (and your children’s—assuming you’ll let them play too) imagination. Ages 4+,www.makedo.com.au

Lite Brix Building System: Extreme City Lights.
litebrix from lite brixWhen you take the Lite Brix out of the box, they look kind of boring. Almost all the bricks (which, in shape, look a lot like Lego) are the same color—kind of a translucent white. But once you and your child have built the first skyscraper and turn on the battery-powered LEDs, wow! And when you finally get all three up and running, wowie wow! The buildings seem almost alive. Detailed directions make it pretty easy for parents and kids to assemble cooperatively—better yet, let your child read the instructions and show how well you can follow orders. The three buildings that are part of this kit can be rebuilt into a single structure, and can be combined with other Lite Brix kits. But don’t feel limited by the instructions. Lite Brix also combine with Lego, so you can build even bigger and even more amazing structures. Ages 6+, http://www.cra-z-art.com/