Tag Archives: toys

It’s Amazing How Few Toys Kids Really Need

We’ve been in this house several months now. It’s nice having all the space but what has been most interesting is how few toys my kids really need in order to have fun.

You see, we’ve hardly unpacked any of them. They’re still in boxes in the garage.

I’ve known for a long time that most toys pretty much don’t get played with. That’s just how kids are. They have the favorites and then the toys that come out once in a long while.

Yes, they have asked for their toys sometimes. Not often at all though.

And there are a few that I really do want to get out for them, especially the wooden train set and more of their crafting supplies.

With the holidays fast approaching, it’s a good reminder that they really don’t need a ton of new toys to have fun.

They will be getting some, but so far we have a bit of a fun science focus. My kids love to do “science projects” and I would like to encourage that. We’ve gotten some good deals for them.

Probably after Christmas we’ll get around to going through those boxes and really push the kids on getting rid of the stuff they just don’t need. There are other children more in need and who would really appreciate the things mine aren’t paying attention to.

Green Gift Ideas to Give to Kids

Kids, especially younger ones, can be pretty easy to shop for. Watch commercials with them and see how often they say “I want that.”

If you’re trying to keep things a little more green and rather less plastic you have a bigger challenge ahead of you. But even then it’s entirely possible to find great green gifts that kids will really welcome.

As children vary so much in what they like, I prefer to recommend stores to shop for them, rather than just particular toys. But I’ll mention a few favorites.

Magic Cabin

I love Magic Cabin’s stuff. They call their toys “kid powered” as they’re all about the imagination, not the batteries. And their toys are just beautiful. They have a Forest Friends Bower that I can picture my daughter going nuts over. It’s perfect for over the bed as a canopy or off in a corner to encourage imaginative play.

Homemade Play Dough

Ok, so this isn’t a store. But it’s a great gift for just about any child in the age ranges that play with play dough.

If you want to make it really special, give the ingredients, containers to store it in, and the recipe, and make it as a project with your child. Time with the parents is a great gift too!

Heirloom Wooden Toys

These guys make some amazing wooden toys as well as some practical things. There’s the Learning Tower, for example. It’s a safe stool for kids to stand on, capable of holding up to 500 lbs. and with an adjustable height. They even sell a kit to make it into a playhouse for those times that it’s not being used as a safety stool, or you can buy an easel attachment.

And of course they have plenty of games to choose from, toy trucks, wooden blocks, play kitchens and much more.

Back to Basics Toys

These guys aren’t specifically green, but they have some great old style toys available, not just all the current stuff. Stuff like Lincoln Logs and Red Flyer Wagons. You’ll have to watch it a bit to avoid plastic toys, but it’s always good to be able to find your old favorites.

Amazon.com Green Toys

Now, I don’t know that I always agree with what they label as green toys. There are a lot they label as green just for having their Frustration Free Packaging. The packaging is certainly an improvement, but has nothing to do with whether the toy itself is green.

Many of the plastic toys are made from recycled plastic in this category.

There are some great green technology toys available too, such as the Thames & Kosmos Fuel Cell Car and Experiment Kit which allows kids to build a solar powered car and a fuel cell powered car. It sounds great to me for helping kids learn about alternative energy sources.


Don’t forget the possibility of quality used toys. This can be harder to apply to older kids than to ones young enough to not know the difference, but sometimes you can still manage it. eBay can be a great source for many of those toys that you remember so well.

Garage Sales and Thrift Stores

Yet more great places to look for used toys. A bit more of luck can be needed to find particular items, but the prices can be just amazing.

Building Up the Rechargeable Battery Supply

It’s getting to be that time for us. Time to buy more rechargeable batteries to work with the toys the kids got for Christmas.

At least those I really like. Some I’m honestly just as glad to only occasionally have batteries in.

The EyeClops BioniCam my kids got is a good example of a toy I like. It’s nice for the kids to get a good, close look at things. I won’t say I’m ecstatic about the plastic, but it’s a great learning tool.

Probably the most frustrating thing about that one is it’s need for 5 batteries. An odd number just doesn’t work well in most chargers; they prefer even numbers for AA batteries.

On the plus side, my daughter is so sweet about that toy. She says she wants to help us earn more money by selling the magnified pictures she takes.

We have a charging system, so all we lack is enough batteries to keep the appropriate toys running. I’ll be checking Amazon.com and GreenBatteries.com to see where I want to get the batteries this time around.

After baby comes.

The challenge is keeping track of which toys have rechargeable batteries in them, especially during cleanouts. No point in giving away rechargeables. They cost extra and who knows if the toy’s new owner would have a charger or bother with it?

We like being gradual about this. One thing we know we don’t want is an excessive supply of rechargeables. What would be the point?

So far I haven’t seen any standouts in terms of performance. I know some are supposed to hold charges better than others, but it’s hard to tell with the way kids use toys; that is, like crazy for a week or two, then leave it alone for weeks, then go crazy again.

Will Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging Be Frustrating?

I have to admit, I love the concept behind Amazon’s new Frustration Free Packaging. When you’re buying online you certainly don’t need the box that lets you look through plastic to see what’s inside. And I detest trying to open most toys these days.

I just hope they get a better selection in there soon.

Only a very few toys and electronics are available so far in plain boxes. Some of course use less plastic than others, but all the toys involved so far do appear to be plastic themselves. And of course some will save more packaging than others.

They do hope to get more toys into this kind of packaging. I hope so too. It takes some effort to get manufacturers to go along with this, but Amazon certainly has the clout.

I hope to see wooden toys and such in better packaging too. I’ve seen that sometimes, although it wasn’t marketed as such. When I bought my kids a wooden train set last year, the tracks came in plain brown boxes. It was really nice, even if it took a moment for the kids to get excited.

Another great search I’ve found on Amazon is to search under “made in USA“. There are a lot of wooden and organic toys listed there. Some plastic too, but mostly not, at least in the pages I checked.

With the holiday shopping season fast approaching, now is a great time to start thinking about what kinds of toys you’re going to pick for your kids. If you can consider both their wants and the environment, why not? It might be the slight improvement from Frustration Free Packaging, or a more deliberate selection of environmentally friendly, creative toys, but you have a lot of options.