In September, our founder Jennifer Stalley had the incredible opportunity to attend the prestigious NYC Toy Fair. An event that serves as a treasure trove of innovative and exciting toys! As an advocate for prioritizing both people and the planet, she embarked on a mission to discover toys that not only bring joy to children but also align with our values: diversity, representation, and sustainability.
Each of these delightful treasures has been handpicked with love and care, as we believe that playtime should not only be a source of joy for kids but also an opportunity for education. Explore her top 10 picks from this year’s toy fair that will make the perfect addition to your little ones’ holiday wish list!
1. Lowercase Toys Interlocking Blocks
We love this creator! A speech pathologist, she couldn’t find the toys she needed in her line of work. The solution was to develop her own – Interlocking Blocks! The architectural sets are super fun and encourage creative problem-solving along multiple mathematical planes. What makes these blocks truly exceptional is their sustainable construction using felt made from recycled water bottles, resulting in a sturdy shape that’s perfect for building. And the best part? They are even washable, making them both practical and eco-friendly!
2. Handstand Kitchen Baking Sets
Jennifer has a sweet spot for baking, an activity she started to enjoy with her daughter at just 2 years old. Claire loved feeling included in the cooking and baking and as she grew, but it also served as a great sensory activity. Now she loves Handstand Kitchen’s Baking Sets! They have a diverse range of themes that will pique every child’s interest, from mermaids to dinosaurs, unicorns, and more.
3. Play Maysie
This unique brand was created by a single mom who knows the importance of making toys work for kids AND parents. She didn’t have time to keep all the parts of a dollhouse together so she invented Play Maysie – the dollhouse with completely contained and magnetic parts! The classic metal lunch pail-inspired dollhouses are perfect for travel, plus they’re sustainable and feature diverse characters. We love them for flights and entertaining little ones at restaurants!
4. How Does Bunjee Feel by Josie C. Mott MS
This wonderful book is written by a speech pathologist. When reading books to her own children she would adapt them to be more interactive. Encouraging her children to participate to move the story along. At one point she was teaching parents how to do the same, and eventually decided to write her own book which naturally prompts participation. The result is a fun flip-book that helps children build their communication skills by associating, emotions, actions, and colors.
5. Girls Can Be Engineers by Jamila H. Lindo
Written by a woman who is an engineer, this book encourages girls to explore the path of engineering. It stars a young girl in search of a career for her school’s upcoming Career Day, but she becomes discouraged because her chosen careers seem to be only for boys. With the help of her mother, a structural engineer, she is reminded that she can do anything! This book is also written in 3 languages and has fun coloring books that go with the collection!
6. Orijin Baby Bees Dolls
Orijin Bees was one of the few black-owned businesses at the Toy Expo and we definitely recommend supporting them. Their multicultural dolls are adorable and honor the beauty of diversity with various hues and curl patterns. They are a great way to send an empowering and positive message about the black community and its members!
7. Little Adventures Dress Up Clothes
A woman-owned company, Little Adventures specializes in machine-washable dress-up clothes that are comfortable and easy to put on. They have almost every princess gown you could imagine, as well as options for boys – princes, dinosaurs, wizards. Being sustainable, this brand has a special place in our hearts. Jennifer’s own daughter has several in her toy chest!
8. Wild Life Into the Night Outdoor Adventures Kit
If your little one loves the outdoors, or you’re looking to encourage some exploration, you’ll love Wild Life Adventure Kits. Their unique games, toys, and gear make getting outside simple and fun. It’s the perfect alternative to screen time! One of our favorites is the Into the Night Outdoor Adventure Kit, which contains quality outdoor items and a 20+ page activity guide with 10+ hours of skill-building activities.
9. Adventerra Games
Educating children about environmental topics helps them grow into better adults, respectful of the planet we all live on. Adventerra Games empower kits to make better choices for a greener future! We love their ecological puzzles about saving water and respecting the earth. As well as their matching games! Both of these are also great for improving language, concentration, and memory. As well as developing problem-solving and fine motor skills.
10. Honey Sticks
Made in New Zealand, Honey Sticks are made of natural and food-grade ingredients. Their products are a must-have for creative little ones, with crayons for land and sea. Pair their beeswax crayons or natural watercolors with coloring books. Or make bathtime extra colorful with their bath crayons and drops. To top it all off they’re guilt-free, thanks to 100% recycled materials and no plastic packaging.