The Art of Play: A is for Alaïa...

 
 

This one always makes me giggle. A reminder that I should lighten up and realize it's easier to cover the basics than I may often realize. After all, for children, play is work. So if you'll excuse me I'm off to let them know that C is for Chanel, D is for Dior and E is for Escada. Important concepts for girls to familiarize themselves with. I'm sure you understand. ;) 

Happy Tuesday, everyone! 

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The Art of Play: Brain Stretching Fun for Young Minds...

We love good science experiments and creativity sparking activities in our house. Pinterest is great, but there are only so many times you can build a mini volcano and remain enthusiastic. We've been thrilled to see the flood of cool subscription deliveries come on the market for kids, but we've definitely chosen our brand.

Kiwi Crate was the original box of goodies we received monthly (disclosure: they sent us the first box for free a few years ago, but we gleefully paid for the rest!). Now they've expanded the concept and increased the age range. Now there's Koala Crate for the littlest tots. Tinker crate for budding wiz kids ready to take on science and engineering experiments and Doodle Crate for the more creatively inspired amongst us. Here's how the services break down:

  • Koala Crate: 3-4 year olds
  • Kiwi Crate: 4-9 year olds
  • Tinker Crate: 9-14+ year olds
  • Doodle Crate: 9-16 year olds

These are gender neutral and honestly such a good value. We also find that the range of ages they appeal to is even more broad than those displayed above. How much? Basically $19.95 per month with a bit of wiggle room for longer subscriptions (you receive a discount) and a bit more if you want to add extra supplies for a sibling. 

Here are our thoughts on the pricing. It's a STEAL. You would be hard pressed to find higher quality supplies than those provided in these crates. As a former art student, I can attest to the fine grade of the elements in the Kiwi Crates. Excellent scissors, Faber Castell pastels are just a few things we've been provided with via the monthly activities. Each "crate" comes with everything (and I do mean everything) you need to perform or create a specific activity or two. I've found that the supplies can easily accommodate an extra child or a second (or third) pass at an activity. Also, we still have many of the supplies on hand because some of them were durable goods that we've incorporated into our supply cabinets. They pack a lot into those boxes and it's always easy to expand it into a few activity sessions while still having goodies left over for future use. 

See what I mean via the video below:

If you have any interest (and really, if you've got a kid in the house you know you do) they will love this. Here's a link to save $10 off your first month of any crate product. Try it. See if you love it. We would love to hear your feedback! We've just signed up again after a year hiatus. This time we're doing Kiwi & Tinker. I'm considering having my oldest do video reviews so you guys can see the activities. Cool, right? 

Pro tip: be the coolest aunt or uncle by signing up that curious niece or nephew for one of these services. It will beat all the other gifts hands down. Grab that $10 off right here & enjoy! 

Tot Fashion: Mini Marie

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We're big fans of playtime. Setting free your imagination is an important aspect of guiding young minds. Girl being girls, princess dress-up in a near daily occurrence in our home. No detail is let out. We bring out the tea set, the pretty dishes and don our tulle and jeweled finery. It's all in good fun, and these girls really, truly enjoy it.

DOLLY by Le Petit Tom is a brand we discovered last year. It features beautifully made dresses that will stand the test of time. No itchy, mass produced dresses here. They are wonderfully designed and made from amazingly stretchy fabrics that feel baby soft to the touch. My minis feel like Marie Antoinette in her height of popularity when they wear these lovely dresses. Royalty. Find this and other beautiful pieces at Le Petit Tom.

The Art of Play: Roll On...

Summer has everyone outdoors partaking in some style of sport. Tennis, swimming, bocce, croquet, volleyball... get togethers call for outdoor fun. We are certainly an all of the above style posse. Regardless of the season, we are continuously busy and enjoy seeking out new engaging recreational activities. Recently we were introduced toRollors, an outdoor game perhaps best described as a mix of bocce, bowling and horseshoes. It's playfully competitive, and certainly very family friendly.

This fun backyard game will keeps participants moving and engaged without great athletic ability required. The rules were very straightforward and luck as well as skill were necessary. It's easy to see how you can develop into a better plater over time by working n your accuracy. This was definitely terrific activity for my energetic six year old. Even the one that was too small to fully participate loved it. For me, the smartly designed zippered carrying case was the thoughtful aspect. It's convenience and orderly nature guarantee it will be added to the trunk for park outings and outdoor casual gatherings. Thumbs up across the board from our little crew! 

Of special note is the story behind the game. Inventor Matt Butler first visualized the concept during his downtime between deployments overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan supporting combat operations. When he returned home he developed a prototype that proved successful with friends and family. Eventually he saw an opportunity to employ out of work veterans by having them produce the simple wooden components that comprise the game pieces. Mark now leverages the worldwide success of his game as a platform to continue giving veterans assistance. He consults them on inventions, career advice, patenting, distribution and more.

You are likely to find yourself playing this game for fun at your next beach party. It's nice knowing that the man behind the invention has a huge heart and is using his success to build others up. Aren't entrepreneurs amazing? Visit Rollors to learn more.

The Art of Play: La Petite Maison...

Loving these amazing playhouses from La Petite Maison. Each one is custom designed to feel like a small home, sized just right for children. There is great attention to detail, careful focus on construction and a range of styles suited to please the most discriminating parent (or child!). Can you imagine spending the afternoon in one of these curled up on a window seat or entertaining little friends? I certainly can, and my daughters could not get over the photos. What a magical gift to give to your children - a space all their own to dream. We think these are positively adorable. See the other designs at La Petite Maison.

The Art of Play: Small Wonders...

What a wonderful world we live in. Creative minds use technology to carry out their visual fantasies. I have certainly found inspiration in the imaginative photography of Jason Lee. Not only is this an extraordinary series of photographs... it is also a terrific way to capture his daughters' personalities and stages of life. I find that all of us look more beautiful in candid photos. It only seems natural to capture that magic with a comical twist. 

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The Art of Play: Best Toy Stores in the World...

Hello Magazine lists the four very best toy stores in the world. Because I love to travel and delight my little one, it is now my quest to visit each of these. Here they are in order as featured in the article:

  • Hamleys: A seven story wonderland located on London's Regents Street promises fun for the whole family. Plus... you're in London, baby! 
     
  • FAO Schwarz: The venerable New York outpost of this world famous toy shop was made famous by Tom Hanks in "Big"... and there's a reason the legacy remains true. Venti Girl reason to go: aside from the fab store itself, this locationis directly across from Bergdorf Goodman. Enough said.
  • Barbie Store: This Buenos Aires store is SURE to be a hit with my daughter. And now that I'm expecting a second little princess this is a "must do" on our global travel itinerary. What to expect: Pink, pink and more pink with lots of satin, tulle and sequins. 
     
  • Kiddy Land: We have friends in Tokyo that we'd love to see. This Japanese chain has beenin the business of making dreams come true since 1946. Can't miss feature: the Hello Kitty "store within a store" inside this iconic toy shop. Another must for mini-me.

The Art of Play: Open-Ended Toys...

A few years ago we noticed that Target (yes, Tar-zhay) carries a line of toys that aren't your run of the mill crayon-colored plastic toys found in the other aisles. Instead, these seemed to offer discovery and an opportunity to (dare I say it) actually learn something. As important, they looked cool, were well made and had somewhat of an eco-friendly vibe to them. The brand? B. Toys.

I have to say, I love this brand. We have slowly added more of their items to our toy cabinet. My little one is really into solving problems and building structures. She loves items like their A-Maze Loopty Loo and the Stackadoos.

While they do use plastic, there is an earth-loving angle to the packaging. You should take a look at the company's story and of course... their toys. Once you see how much your child's imagination lights up, you won't regret it.