On Friday, American Girl announced a licensing agreement with Fashion Angels, a designer of tween girls’ lifestyle and activity products, to create trend-right and fashion-focused arts and crafts products. The new line will be available this fall at mass retailers nationwide and will include activity kits, fashion sketchbooks, and Do-It-Yourself craft kits for girls to create accessories for themselves and their American Girl dolls.
In time for the holidays, Surprise Ride is launching its first e-shop featuring past gift boxes, which include such themes as Ancient Egypt, Superheroes, and Volcanoes. Every month, Surprise Ride fosters creativity by providing a curated box of activities for kids ages 6 to 11 that promotes hands-on learning.
Each box teaches kids something new about the world, and past activities have included painting in the style of van Gogh, exploring the science behind how things glow in the dark, and making organic chocolate from scratch. Surprise Ride is also debuting its first limited edition holiday box, allowing kids to make their own DIY gifts.
Urban Canvas, an eco-friendly craft toy company, has introduced Design Tins, a new collection of portable tin boxes packed with art activities. The first two kits in this collection, Doll-Tin Cafe and i.am.ro.bot., contain wooden and paper board pieces that children can decorate, assemble, and easily transport from place to place in a tin box.
The Doll-Tin Cafe contains two wooden dolls, decorative tape, paper board furniture pieces, and wooden tableware. With this kit, children can use their imagination to create a cafe scene and “dress up” wooden dolls with removable decorative tape.
The second kit, i.am.ro.bot., is a do-it-yourself block set. With this set, children can mix and match robot parts with blocks that are decorated with stickers that they can stick on and color. The kit comes complete with four wooden blocks, robot stickers, and colored pencils.
This past weekend, under terrific late-summer weather, the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., was the site of this year’s World Maker Faire. The massive, two-day-long science fair/state fair drew large crowds of hobbyists, educators, tech enthusiasts, and more. The exhibitors consisted of a wide range of crafty and tech-savvy folks working in a variety of medium—and they included quite a few toy companies.
Given that innovation and education are among the underlying principles of World Maker Faire—not to mention the larger “maker movement” as a whole—it wasn’t surprising to find many toys aimed at fostering intellectual curiosity in kids. It would take too much space to list them all, but here are three that struck my fancy. Each encourages learning in ways that are hands-on and inventive.
Sparkle Labs: The New York City-based company’s mission is to make science and engineering as approachable as possible. To that end, its Papertronics – Lunar Modules is an origami kit with cute designs on paper, to go with simple electronics that teach the basics of LED circuitry. Suitable for kids ages 8 and up, each kit includes all the materials necessary for three working lanterns: Spaceboy, Alien Girl, and Tabula Rasa. [Read more...]
This winter has been a brutal one for New Yorkers (and I’m not even sure it’s over yet). I for one was more than willing to load up on the cold weather gear, donning a new bubble coat, an oversized infinity scarf, and fingerless gloves with mitten covers in a concerned effort to keep out the cold and stave off the flu. Long johns were even necessary on a few of the more brutal days this year. Though most adults are eager to be as warm as possible during the winter months, it can be difficult to get kids to bundle up willingly. My niece and nephew whine and whine about putting on their winter’s finest: “The zipper pinches my chin!,” “I can’t breathe!,” “I can’t see with this hat on,” etc., etc. A good way to combat the incessant complaining and layering reluctance is to let kids make their own cold weather accessories. [Read more...]