Metro Mama & Metro Baby

By Kim Taylor

Green Toys are a sound investment for a variety of reasons: they’re healthier for children, they’re usually crafted with more care so they last longer, and they support the local or national economy. In this purposefully scaled-back era, green toys are what you want your children to remember for posterity.

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The sturdy Plan Toys Dollhouse is appealing to both genders and encourages hours of cooperative and imaginative play. Fashioned as an unadorned modern home, this toy works for boys as well as girls since it’s not a traditionally ornate dollhouse. The all-wood Plan Toys home is created from recycled rubber wood, coated with a non-toxic finish, and the set’s colored furniture is tinted with vegetable dye. Featuring two levels, four rooms, a patio and sliding doors, its durable construction and stalwart materials will withstand years of kid-spawned wear and tear and ensure lasting enjoyment. Find it at www.amazon.com.

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Even instruments can be green, as proven by the eco-friendly roster at www.greenhome.com. The Indonesian Flute Snake Charmer emits a bluesy saxophone sound that conjures up images of distant shores and steamy weather, which children will absolutely love. And since it’s collected by a fair trade company that aims to engender a sustainable local economy in a variety of global communities, parents can feel good about this purchase as well. The greenhome.com site also offers green cleaning products, apparel, appliances, furniture and everything else you need for the healthiest home imaginable.

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Another stupendous find at www.naturediscoverytoys.com is the American Toy Company’s old-fashioned Marble Whacker. Crafted of strong wood and quality materials, this game sparks fast and fun flipping action in order to score a goal. Great gramps might have played it too, though without donning nose ring and tongue stud. Nothing compares to real 3-D action, so get your marbles whacked this summer.

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Gobblet is an award-winning strategy game played with wood markers on a wooden board. As elegantly simple as tic-tac-toe but as challenging as you care to make it, this is a game you’ll play repeatedly over the years. Find it and other mind-bending games and toys at www.fatbraintoys.com. Players from 5 to 95 will love it, but keep it away from the centarians.

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A Birds of Summer poster fosters an appreciation of nature and helps children identify the swarms of summer birds in Central Park or those perched on their rooftops, such as swallows, warblers, cedar waxwing, and goldfinch. Featuring 24 bird species specific to summer, this resource will help your brood make quick IDs if placed strategically near a window. Find it at www.naturediscoverytoys.com, along with the equally fascinating North American Whales and Dolphins poster, which encourages respect for our oceans and seas.

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All Family Pastimes board games are made in the U.S. and Canada from recycled components, including the boxes in which they’re packed. Wood items are tinted with water-based colors, all glues are water-based, all inks are soy, and all colorings are free of lead. Find these games at www.KidBean.com, along with organic cotton toys, footwear, apparel, bath products and more.

You have a finite number of summers with children before they fly the coop and flourish, so make sure you pack in as much enjoyment as possible into each of them.

Originally published July 2008
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