Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Eco Friendly Christmas Gifts for Older Toddlers

Welcome to the November 2013 Carnival of Natural Mothering! 

This article is a part of the Carnival of Natural Mothering hosted by GrowingSlower, Every Breath I Take, I Thought I Knew Mama, African Babies Don't Cry, and Adventures of Captain Destructo. This month's topic is Incorporating Natural Into the Holidays. Be sure to check out all of the participants' posts through the links at the bottom of this page.

As everyone who regularly reads this blog knows, I much prefer wooden ecofriendly toys for Destructo rather than plastic toys that are made in China and don't last more than a month in the hands of Captain Destructo.  It is all a part of my striving to live more naturally and why should Destructo's toys be any different.  This is one way we keep our natural living even in the craziness that is the holidays.  (I also still really try to avoid overly processed foods especially those containing food dyes for Destructo during all those holiday meals.)   Last year I wrote this blog post about ecofriendly Christmas gifts for the younger toddler in your life.  While he still plays with a lot of those toys, (so if you need more ideas than just this post be sure to check it out) my boy is way too quickly growing up.  So without further ado here is this years ecofriendly toy list.

Topping the list in Destructo's mind would be his marble run toy.  He is really hoping to get an addition to it.  Or maybe Mr. Destructo is really hoping to get an addition since he is the putter togetherer.  This toy is not ideal if you have a mouthy toddler still for obvious reasons.  But Kai is past that stage and while he is still too young to assemble it, he will play with it for hours once we put it together for him.  So it is a toy that is going to grow with him.

Marble Runs
Hape marble run is the brand we currently have one set of.  It is just the basic set but he loves it.  Hape is a company that has high quality wooden toys that use sustainable materials, water based paints, and meet all US and EU toy quality standards.  The one downfall to these toys are that they are manufactured in China.
The middle set actually has chimes that the marble sets off as it falls onto the different levels.  I think it is pretty darn cool!  
 (Oh and side note if you want more info on any of these toys listed, just click the pictures.)

Railway Set
Something that made the list last year was trains.  Destructo still loves trains, but is more into building extensive train railways.  An eco friendlyish version that I saw was the Melissa and Doug version.  
As you probably know from my last post, Melissa and Doug toys are manufactured in China so avoid them if you avoid China produced toys.  But they are made from sustainable materials and tested once they reach the US.  I mostly like these though because they are widely available in stores and people are more likely to humor me and get these than they are toys that can only be ordered online or in specialty toy stores.

Pattern blocks
  I can't say whether Destructo loves these or not, but I know I sure did when I was a kid.  This is on his Christmas list for this year.  The first picture is Hape brand and is actually magnetic which I really like and is made of bamboo.  The second one is made by Haba which I haven't mentioned yet but I love that company.  They are made in Germany of sustainable products.  This is one of my very top companies along with Plan toys.  Last picture is Melissa and Doug.

Art Easel
Destructo got the Melissa and Doug art easel for Christmas last year.  He liked it then, but has really grown into it it better this year.  There is an accessory kit I highly recommend getting with it.  It comes with four paint cups with a top, four paintbrushes, a roll of paper, chalk, a dry erase marker, and an eraser.  Oh and four big bottles of paint.  The easel itself has a dry erase side and a chalkboard side.  We do lots of art on this.
Another accessory I got to go with it was a art smock to help save his clothes.  It works well!

Wooden puzzles are a huge hit with my kiddo.  Although while sometimes he likes putting them together in the traditional way, a lot of times he just takes the pieces and uses them for imaginative play.  A few interesting ones I saw while writing this are:

  The first one is Haba and is magnetic, the second Destructo owns and is by Melissa and Doug.  He likes fishing for the fish.  The last two puzzles are by a new company I found this year called Begin Again.  They are made from all plant materials with no oils/ food based dyes.  They are manufactured in China, but the company really stands behind toy safety.

I would love for Destructo to get a few more advanced wooden blocks.  You can see some basic block sets on last year's list and he still plays with those regularly.  In fact, he is building a castle for his pet toy lizards.  His lizards bred apparently and now Lizzie and Queenie are mom and dad to five plastic lizards.  I don't approve of the plastic, but until he forgets them I am stuck haha.  Thanks Captain Destructo's grandma.

A set I would really like for Destructo is  Haba fantasy blocks.  They are made in Germany and would add on perfectly to a smaller starter kit he has. A few others sets of notice:

Another set of blocks that I really need errr Destructo really needs is Tegu blocks.  They are wooden blocks that have magnets inside.  They are awesome.  The library by my parents house has a set that I play with every time we go in there.  But I will forewarn they are pricey.  One day I am going to hit the lottery and get some of these awesome blocks.

Animal Sets

Kai is really big into pretend play with animals.  He has the Fisher-Price Little People Fun Sounds Farm and the Fisher-Price Little People Zoo Talkers Animal Sounds Zoo.  These are one of the few plastic, made in China, not so ecofriendly toys I really like because they amuse Destructo for hours and hours and really encourage creative/imaginative play.

But an ecofriendly alternative  I have found recently that I really want to get a few for Kai are Anamalz.  They are wooden, posable animals that are made in Australia.  They also have adoption certificates that you can then play all kinds of games online with for older kids (similar to Webkinz.)

Some other sets I have found are:

The first two are Plan and Haba and are just animal sets.  The second one is one I picked up at a consignment sale for cheap brand new in the package.  It is Melissa and Doug and has animals and blocks to build a barn.  He loves it.  Well worth the ten bucks I paid for it.

Balance bikes/scooters

Great for getting energy out and for outside play.  Destructo has a balance bike and even with only a little bit of using it is really catching onto it.  He is even starting to pick up his feet and attempt to balance for a few seconds.

Lacing Beads

The first set is actually made in the USA (Holgate toys.)  The other two sets are Haba and Plan.

Pretend Play

Doctors kit by Haba.  Kai loves pretending to give me shots when we are at my mom's house where he has a play doctor kit.  This one is on his wish list this year for sure.

Kitchen sets and play food are favorites in our house.  (Check out last year's list above for a lot of different suggestions for that.)

Dress up clothes are loved as well by toddlers.  Melissa and Doug dress up clothes have lots of different options for boys and girls.  But another way you could be ecofriendly and reduce your carbon footprint is to repurpose things laying around the house for dress up clothes.  Or find things at yard sales to reuse.  I found a fire fighter helmet that Destructo loves for fifty cents at a yard sale.  And beads from random Kentucky Derby's or other things like that are a huge hit in my house.

Dolls/ doll stuff  are loved by little girls and boys.  Well not my boy.  He has two but has only used them as ramps for his trucks.  So much for not perpetuating gender stereotypes.  He was hard wired to love "boy" toys.  As a boy mom, I am not an expert on this category at all so feel free to chime in if there are any tried and true girl toys I should include.  I did notice Haba baby dolls had all kinds of cute dolls and strollers and other baby stuff.  I love that company so it is worth checking out.

Tea sets are a must for the girl toddlers in your life.  I tried to get Destructo to have a tea party with me and he told me "Momma I dink cofeeee."  The tea set I would get for my imaginary daughter would be the set by Green Toys.
Destructo has a dish set from them and they are super resilient to toddler antics, made from recycled milk jugs in the US, and very easy to wash when he demands to drink out of them.

Tool set (See my post from last year for my suggestions.)

Doll house.  I really like the Plan wooden doll house. There are tons of accessories that go with it too.  My mom has our doll house from when we are a kid and Destructo likes playing with it.  Although sometimes he just turns it into a giant garage for his cars and trucks haha.

Musical Instruments
Green Tones music instruments are ecofriendly and look to be very kid friendly.
 This set has been on Destructo's wish list for the last two years.  I am not positive on the level of ecofriendliness of this one.  I know parts of it are made in the US though.  It is Hohner brand.  I am going to email the company and see what they can tell me and update you guys later.

Dress up wooden paper dolls toys
How is that for a category?  I am not sure what exactly to call these, but they look pretty cool.  I think Kai would really like the firefighter one. 

Okay that is it for now.  I will probably add to this over the next few days if you guys have any suggestions or I think of any other categories that I should have included.  Let me know if you think anything should be added.  Especially girly things since that is not my specialty.
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