10 Etsy toys for toddlers & pre-schoolers you need to check out

I love, love, love Etsy. In the last 4 years Etsy is by far the website where I’ve done the most shopping. I’ve created lists, started following even more awesome shops and I’m getting tons of ideas and inspiration for crafts and home decor. I love Etsy. You can follow me here. One of my favourite things to search for are cool and unique toys for the girls. Here’s a roundup of 10 of the girls’ favs (mine too):10 Etsy toys for toddlers & pre-schoolers you need to check out - Smocks & Shops #thingsorganizedneatly

  1. Wooden stacking dolls – Tinocchio – Made in Israel. Stacking toys are so important for toddlers. I love the simplicity in the design of these gals (yep, to us they’re girls). Every time Mila plays with them, Danika inevitably wants to also.
  2. Crowns – Felt Like Celebrating – Made in New Zealand. They each got their crown for their 1st birthdays. Danika wears hers all the time. Mila is getting used to hers.
  3. Pretend play camera – Little Sapling Toys – Made in USA. Danika loves to drop down on one knee and say “Over here… look at me…. say cheese…. click, click click… look!” Then she turns the camera to us, to show us the “viewfinder” like she’s seen us do with our real camera countless times. She’s so funny.
  4. Roadster – Hill Country Woodcraft – Made in USA. Mila loves this car. It rolls really well and the peg person is great for her hand-eye coordination.
  5. Little heart cars – Darlingling – Made in Canada. These have spent many night outside in the sandbox after hours of play. They’re still great. I love their colours.
  6. International peg dolls – I Got You Pegged – Made in USA. The girls line them up. Put them in a little pouch I made. Take them out, line them up again… I especially love the little Dutch girl, being half-Dutch myself.
  7. Doll – KraKracraft – Made in Slovenia. She was Danika’s reward for graduating to a big-girl bed. The owner of the shop is amazing. She could do anything! I told her I wanted the doll to be a little in Danika’s likeness, which colours and patterns she liked. She gave the doll those light blue eyes and blond hair with wispy little pig tails. When I placed my order, I was also still mourning the loss of my old girl Maya (she was my faithful, 4-legged baby, who got really, really sick), so I asked if it was possible to somehow include a brown dog (Maya was a beautiful chocolate lab). I couldn’t be happier with this whole experience. Danika calls her Dolly. She sleeps with her every single night without fail.
  8. I Spy bag – Chicks & Chickadees – Made in USA. This is one of those purchases I could have waiting a little longer to order and gift. Danika is only now starting to play with it but she’s had it a while. I actually stored it this week. I’ll take it out again later this summer. Nevertheless, I really love the personal touches. Her name is in there, as are some of Danika’s favourite things (animals, colours, etc).
  9. Finger puppets – Stay Awake & Play – Made in Canada. Always popular. These come out at least twice a week and have since the day we got them. Danika loves putting them on and singing Old McDonald to her sister waving (with great difficulty) the finger with the animal she’s on, which is what I used to sing and do for her. Still do.
  10. Memory game – 3Princesses – Made in Canada. The tiles themselves can be played with like blocks or dominos but now that Danika is old enough, we’re finally playing the memory game. We started with 2 pairs turned over, then 3. That’s where we’re at now. We’ll gradually increase the number of pairs as she gets used to playing. I love watching her grow and develop like this.

10 Etsy toys for toddlers & pre-schoolers you need to check out - Smocks & Shops  #thingsorganizedneatly

What about you? What have been your best handmade toy purchases on Etsy?

10 Etsy toys for toddlers & pre-schoolers you need to check out - Smocks & Shops #thingsorganizedneatly

Giving birds a new home

My daughter turned 3 last month and during her party, her friends got to decorate their own birdhouses. Danika’s friends are mostly pairs of siblings so to not burden their parents (our friends) with having to find a place to hang two birdhouses, it was one birdhouse per household, which worked out great.

Pink ruffle cake for Danika's 3rd birthday

Since it was a party and the kids were all 4 years old and younger, I skipped the paint to avoid the mess. Instead, I opted for great quality stickers, felt markers, glitter glue and adhesive “jewels”. Much of which I found at the dollar store*.

What you need:

  1. Wooden birdhouses – I got ours for $3 each at the dollar store. They usually carry different models. I took the biggest ones. You can also get them at craft stores and pay 4 times the price.
  2. Markers – I used these kiddie ones from DeSerres.ca. I like how they “bleed” when they get wet (from the glitter glue). Creates a nice watercolour effect, which is what I was hoping for.
  3. Great quality stickers – I used this set for the girls and this one for the boys – Both by Djeco.
  4. Glitter glue – We finished old tubes I had from Michael’s. You can get them anywhere. I’ve been told though that the best tubes are the ones from Target. My crappy ones from Michael’s would always blow open if we squeezed too hard.
  5. Adhesive jewels – I’ve seen these in craft stores but I am always shocked at how much they sell for, meanwhile you can get them for a $1 or $2 from the dollar store.
  6. Tissue paper – pre-cut into squares. I have also seen these sold for insane $ in craft stores. I found some at the dollar store too.
  7. Mod Podge for outdoors – This was needed to make sure the stickers and jewels stayed glued down permanently but it left a sticky finish (even after 3 days), which I hated, so I sprayed them with a clear finish.
  8. Krylon Clear Finish Spray for indoor or outdoor use – If you just paint the birdhouses, this spray alone would be fine, but if you have anything glued on them, you really need to apply some Podge to seal it all in.

Birdhouses decorated by pre-schoolers - Birthday party activity

How to:

  • Well, I’d like to say we used a technique but come on… They’re pre-schoolers! They just wanted to colour and put stickers and use glitter glue!! They were, however, very concentrated for a good 15-20 minutes. It was awesome. The moms were on hand to help (and to keep the peace among the siblings). All in all, it was a huge success.
  • I kept the birdhouses after the party so that I could finish them with the Mod Podge and Krylon spray and return them hassle-free and “ready-to-hang”.
  • As a side note, now’s a good time to hang birdhouses if you want tenants for the summer. March and April are typically the best times, if you live in colder climates like we do here in Quebec.

Have a closer look at the lovely abodes. Hopefully all the bling and sparkle (that you can’t see very well in these photos) will attract some new winged residents.

Birdhouse decorated by Liam and Alec Birdhouse decorated by Danika and Mommy Birdhouse decorated by Maya and HaleyBirdhouse decorated by Danika and Mila

*This post contains some affiliate links to Amazon. Thank you for your support!

Are you happy?

That is one of Danika’s favourite things to ask. Especially when she senses she’s in hot water. As in, we’re all sitting at the table and she’s not eating what she’s meant to. We inevitably get frustrated, after our repeated attempts at getting her to even just *try* the broccoli or the carrots fail miserably. Oh and bear in mind that these are all foods she’s actually eaten gobs of ever since she started solids and even declared these to be some of her favourites at one time or another, but now can’t stand the sight of them in her bowl or plate… And no! We must resist! We. must. not. bribe. her. with. chocolate… Again… [sigh] #fail.

So when she senses our frustration, cheeky munchkin that she is, she suddenly starts bombarding us with the same question over and over and over again. “Mommy, are you happy? Daddy are you happy? Mila is happy. Mommy are you happy? Are you happy Daddy? I think Mila is happy. Are you happy Mommy?” and on and on and on she goes, even though we actually do answer her. Cute, eh? So how can we stay upset… It’s impossible. Peter and I crack a smile at each other when she’s not looking.

AreYouHappy 8 x 10 poster

Anyhow, to commemorate her “how-to-avoid-eating-my-food-and-still-get-chocolate” question, I created a little printable poster (8 x 10 inches) and desktop background image (1280 x 720 pixels). Feel free to save and use.

Are you Happy? Desktop background image