November 4, 2014

Neighborhood Toy Store Day & Best Toys For Kids 2014

I'm thrilled to share about Neighborhood Toy Store Day, a cause that is very near to my heart.  Thank you to ASTRA for sponsoring this post.  #NeighborhoodToyStoreDay

As someone who spends a fair amount of time with their head stuffed in a box of children's toys and games, there is a special day quickly approaching that I'm incredibly excited about.  It's Christmas. It's obviously Christmas, right?  NOPE.  It's Neighborhood Toy Store Day.  Which is actually the PERFECT day to start tackling that holiday shopping list.  Or to finish it if you're all type A.

Neighborhood Toy Store Day 2014, ASTRA, Toy Tester,

If you've never heard of Neighborhood Toy Store Day, it's basically a movement to visit your local toy store and find the hidden treasures and fantastic customer service you probably won't see in the big box stores.  This year, Neighborhood Toy Store Day happens on November 8th.  We've all read about the benefits of shopping small and shopping local on the local economy.  I know sometimes it's easy to forget when you can click a couple of buttons on your phone and order from a mass merchant.  However, I still love a trip to our neighborhood toy store which is Geppettos here in San Diego.

Geppettos is one of the last local toy stores where you can go and find a ton of carefully curated high quality toys for all ages. You can ask just about any toy question you can come up with and their team will almost certainly have some solid advice for you. You'll find lots of European brands like Haba and Janod which make great gifts for the kids that have everything.  And they'll even wrap it all up for you while you wait or grab a coffee down the street.

 My friends at ASTRA sent a few of their Best Toys for Kids from 2014 my way so our family could check them out.  If you like these toys then I recommend looking up your own neighborhood toy store and finding out what they have planned for Neighborhood Toy Store Day so you can shop and have some extra fun with things like magic shows, face painting (OMG, my child lives for face painting) craft projects and even some special discounts.


Kayla is usually the recipient of all wonderful toys that make their way into our home, but for the first time Blake was able to participate.  He has just started reaching for things and grabbing at things so these pipSquigz were really fun for him.  They're made using high quality silicone, come in very fun colors and are suction toys so they can stick to a high chair, table or the Bumbo play tray that we just started using.  I'm in LOVE with the fact that they are dishwasher safe and BPA free.  I'm thinking of gifting a set to my nephew who is almost 1.  

Neighborhood Toy Store Day 2014, ASTRA, Toy Tester,

Architetrix Constructor Set

I'm a longtime fan of Hape products and some of my favorite play food, toy kitchen items and games come from this brand. Their Architetrix Constructor Set had Kayla slightly confused at first because she wasn't used to having the ability to build in so many directions. You see those clear pieces below? They are flexible asterisk shaped connectors that allow your child to build in a more fluid way and see how their creation changes simply by altering a few pieces.  This is one of those toys that falls under the category of the less the toy actually does the more your child does.  As you can imagine, they are my favorite kind of toys! 

Neighborhood Toy Store Day 2014, ASTRA, Toy Tester,

Grow 'N Glow Terrarium

If your child is like mine, then any activity that involves growing something is THE BEST.  Kayla and I did some mother daughter bonding while setting up our little terrarium.  The kit came with soil, sand, rocks and everything we needed to put our terrarium together, including (get this) organic chia and wheatgrass seeds.

I liked hearing her ask questions about why we were putting different components in and what they did.  I also know my mother would have approved of the quirky miniature garden ornaments and the genius little spray bottle which allows your child to water their terrarium without drowning everything that is growing in there.  With my "black" thumb I can honestly say I've drowned more than my fair share of plants.   And of course it's called the Grow 'N Glow Terrarium because there are a bunch of fun little glow in the dark stickers your child can decorate the terrarium with. If you're 6ish, apparently glow in the dark stickers are your I am learning.

Neighborhood Toy Store Day 2014, ASTRA, Toy Tester,


Are those traditional memory games getting too easy?  When Kayla was younger, I loved this Kid-O memory game and it has served us well, but now she needs more of a challenge.  Peek-A-Doodle-Doo comes from Fat Brain Toy Co and is more challenging than a traditional memory game because the pieces are in motion.  Plus, they're adorable and it's way more fun to chase chickens and eggs than it is to flip over coins or square cards, right? 

Neighborhood Toy Store Day 2014, ASTRA, Toy Tester,

Robot Turtles

Technology is great and it's the reason I am so lucky to be able to work from home and have my own small business.  Programming has never been my strength but clearly there is something to be said for the importance of such a skill in this day and age.  Kayla is by nature a "tinkerer" just like I am.  We're constantly making, doing and building.  Robot Turtles from ThinkFun helps teach very basic programming concepts to preschoolers and young children.  As someone who prefers that most learning for young children to be offline, it's nice to have an option in a board game format!

If you'd like to learn more about Neighborhood Toy Store Day on November 8th, you can on Facebook and Twitter.  You can also see the entire list of the Best Toys for Kids 2014 from ASTRA all of which support active, open-ended and creative play. 

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