Tag Archives: toys

Last-minute Father’s Day gift guide

Tomorrow is Father’s Day! It’s OK; I know you didn’t forget about getting a gift. You’re just a procrastinator, like me. See, I’m just now getting around to writing the gift guide!

For the new Dad: 

ERGObaby performance baby carrier. (Aren’t baby-wearing daddies the sweetest?)

For the Dad who likes to build stuff. Dangerous stuff:

Backyard Ballistics by William Gurstelle.

For the Dad who needs to relax: 

Head massager. The best $4.99 you’ll maybe ever spend.

For the LEGO-loving Dad: 

Series 7 Minifigures.

For the gadget-y Dad:

Kikkerland windups. Exposed gears so you can see how they work.

For the Dad who loves puzzles: 

1000-piece fine-art puzzles from EuroGraphics.

For the Dad who loves to party: 

Tenzi by Carma Games. Fast-paced and hilarious. Our new go-to party game for kids and grownups.


Spring Break Shopping Guide

Spring Break will be here before you know it, so here are some of our Pufferbellies  “Spring Break  essentials” — great outdoor toys, of course, but also books to enjoy as a family, art projects to do together, and games in case of a rainy day.

1. The Mysterious Benedict Society Collection

mysterious benedict society collection

The first three volumes of The Mysterious Benedict Society

Looking for a fabulous family read-aloud? We love The Mysterious Benedict Society.  The books are full of appealing characters you’ll quickly grow to love, and surprises in every chapter.

2. Sidewalk Chalk

Crayola sidewalk chalk

Crayola sidewalk chalk is a childhood classic

What could be better than a warm Spring day, a box full of brand-new sidewalk chalk and a long stretch of sidewalk (or driveway) to decorate just as you please? We also love the recipes for sidewalk paint we’ve seen floating around the Internet recently.

3. A new sketchbook

eeboo pencils and sketchbook

eeBoo sketchbook and colored pencils

It doesn’t have to be fancy, but there’s something about a beautiful new sketchbook that just makes our hearts pound. Encourage your child to sketch what he or she sees and experiences outdoors this season, and to share the sketches with you at the end of the day. Muriel Silberstein-Storfer, in her book Doing Art with Children, says: “…most of our concepts are wordless, even though we try to describe them. Sometimes only making an image or physical object can clarify the image.”

4. A great water bottle

lifefactory water bottles

Lifefactory glass water bottles

We all know it’s important to stay hydrated. At Pufferbellies, we love these glass water bottles by Lifefactory. They’re beautiful, useful, and safe — glass is naturally free of BPA, phthalates and harmful chemicals. The wide mouth makes it easy to add ice cubes or lemon slices, too.

5. Bubbles

pustefix bubbles

Pustefix bubbles

Nothing says Spring like a stream of rainbow bubbles sparkling in the sun. German-made Pustefix bubbles (in bitty little bottles and the classic bear) are some of our favorites.

6. Stomp Rockets

Stomp Rockets

Stomp Rockets by D&L

For the park, beach or backyard, Stomp Rockets can’t be beat. Just load up the foam rocket, then jump, stomp, push with your hands or ride your bike over the air-filled launcher. Watch your rocket zoom up to 100 feet in the air, run and get it, rinse and repeat. All afternoon. A staple for many Pufferbellies families.

7. The Pumponator


The Pumponator balloon filling station

An ingenious invention that makes it easier for little ones to fill water balloons. We took one to an outdoor party at Susan B’s house last summer, and it was a hit with all the children — from age 2 to age 12.

8. A bucket. (And a shovel!)

Spielstabil buckets and shovels

Spielstabil buckets and shovels

Our sturdy, German-made Spielstabil buckets and shovels will last through years of beach trips, sandbox play, mud-pie making and general exploring. They’re made of heavy-duty, UV-resistant plastic, so they won’t crack and fade like the cheap versions do.

9. Kidzaw Master Kitz

Master Kitz: The Starry Night

Master Kitz: The Starry Night

It’s bound to happen: a rainy day on Spring Break. Keep a Master Kitz in reserve, and you’ll be ready. These beautiful art kits guide children as young as five (and as old as 105!) through the creation of art based on a famous master work. Each kit makes two pieces of frame-worthy art.

10. Spot It

spot it

Spot It

Whether you’re heading out of town or staying home, Spot It is a definite Spring Break essential. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to break out this little gem of a game — waiting at a restaurant for the food to come, friends over for a barbecue, or family time after the dinner dishes are done. A Pufferbellies best seller!

Sophie the Giraffe So’Pure Soother

It’s a new addition to the Sophie family! The So’Pure Soother is made from 100% natural rubber, and is exceptionally squeezy and chewy. Lots of different textures for drooly little cute-pies to explore. Om nom nom.

So'Pure Soother from the makers of Sophie the Giraffe

So'Pure Soother from the makers of Sophie the Giraffe

American-made toys at Pufferbellies: Watercolor Magic

After our incredible time making watercolor spray-paint for Crafternoon, I ordered in a big supply of liquid watercolors made by Sargent Art. I was especially excited to get them after I read that liquid watercolors like these are MaryAnn Kohl’s number one most favorite art material! (MaryAnn Kohl is the author of Scribble Art, one of my all-time favorite books about making art with children. And a lot of other amazing books, too.)

We have regular and glitter colors in generous 8oz bottles. Watercolor Magic is washable from most surfaces and made in the USA.

The real name of this color is "Glitter Blue," but we like to call it "Mermaid."

American-made toys at Pufferbellies – Mimi the Sardine aprons and bibs

Today the spotlight is on Mimi the Sardine — a small, California-based company that makes THE most charming bibs and aprons for kids (along with a bunch of other cool stuff). They use fabulous Swedish-designed-and-manufactured 100% organic cotton fabrics, and cover them in some sort of non-toxic acrylic coating that I think is almost magical. You can wash and wear and wash and wear and wash some more … the aprons and bibs are practically indestructible, but the coating doesn’t make them overly stiff or plastic-y feeling, so kids won’t rebel against wearing them.

You can check ’em out in our store, or find them on our website.

Mimi the Sardine bibs are made in the USA

American-made toys at Pufferbellies – StarbrightBaby Giraffes

I am smitten with these giraffes! They’re made in Michigan by StarbrightBaby, and they’re just the cutest. 100% cotton, firmly stuffed with hypoallergenic fiberfill. Great teethers for little ones, and friendly companions for toddlers and preschoolers.

StarbrightBaby Giraffes are made in the USA

American-made toys at Pufferbellies — DIY Bubble Gum Kit

Who doesn’t love BUBBLE GUM? I’m so glad to have found this excellent, made-in-the-USA bubble gum-making kit from our pals at Copernicus in Charlottesville. It comes with all the tools and ingredients you need to make more than a quarter-pound of bubble gum, which you can flavor any way you like. We recommend this kit for ages 8+, with adult supervision for the microwaving part. Science kits are a great way to get kids and grownups interacting (and learning something new!). The kit also comes with a sheet that has all kind of fun gum facts — I learned the difference between chewing gum and bubble gum, and that bubble gum was invented in 1928. See? We’re totally learning stuff, here.

Copernicus Bubble Gum Kit - made in the USA. YUM!