Awesome Picks for Kids: Top 6 Backpacks for Pre-Schoolers

Are backpacks for pre-schoolers that important or completely unnecessary? Which one is the right one to select? ...and how could you know, if this is the first time you are sending your little one to school?
 It may sound silly, it is only pre-k and possibly just a couple of hours of school a day, but yes, your pre-schooler needs the right backpack, a step up from toyish bags, those ones your child uses to carry small things around, and a step down from the big backpacks that kids take to elementary school.
Having made this point clear, a backpack for pre-school shouldn't be just cute or cool. It should be functional. Size matters and a regular size backpack for a pre-k student becomes an aggravation, a huge thing that covers his/her whole back with so much space inside that is almost impossible for a young child to find anything. A toddler backpack is the appropriate choice, a bag usually the size of a notebook with enough room for gloves and a hat, small books, crayons and maybe, a little something for "show and tell".
Non-toxic materials are a "must" have. BPA free, phthalate free, lead free, all of those safety highlights are important, especially considering that in many cases, in which lunches are not part of the schedule, backpacks are the ones needed to carry snacks and juice.
Size, safety and comfort is our motto when choosing the perfect pre-k backpack, a bag that is easy for a little kid to figure out. Smooth zippers, padded straps, mesh pockets for snacks and a washable surface should make everyone happy and complete the deal.
Here is our list of the top 6 pre-k backpacks that passed our test:

1:: Bunny Backpack by CBHstudio (PVC Free).
2:: Cold Feet - Kids' Backpack by Dabbawalla (made of Neoprene-like fabric).
3:: Grey Robot - Toddler Backpack by So Young (PVC Free).
4:: Zoo Packs - Little Kid Backpack- Dinosaur by Skip Hop ( BPA, Phthalate Free)
5:: Bubble Half Pack- Gumball by MadPax (made of Polyester-Spandex fabric).
6:: Go-Vinci Backpack by Ben-Bat USA ( PVC Free).


Awesome Picks for Kids: Top 6 Adorable Back-to-School Lunchboxes

...Here we go again!! List in hand, ready to attack the back-to-school season, some times confused with the huge variety of designs to select from, and some others frustrated not finding enough of that particular item we are looking for.
Lunchbox selection can get a little tricky if we think about all of the requirements that come with it- something beautifully designed that represents our child's personality, but also fits our taste (why not?), something durable, non-toxic, reasonably priced... sooo many things to consider.
Well, we did our research and put together a list of the top six lunchboxes that really caught our attention. They are "adorable", that's right, but we also made sure that they are safe, BPA-free, Phthalate-free, lead free, insulated and washable. After all, they will be carrying our children's food all year round and we should have piece of mind keeping toxic elements away. Good insulation is another issue of importance; soggy, cold food or a warm juice can be a good excuse for our kids to come back home with an untouched lunch. Of course, spills will happen and when they happen, we want to be able to wash and dry our "pretty" lunchboxes knowing that they won't get damaged. 
Ready now? Go ahead, inmerse yourself into some "clicking" activity and good luck finding all you need for your little one's back-to-school shopping.

1:: Ruby Lunchbox by Baby Kaed (PVC, Phthalate, lead free).
2:: Monkey Do Kids Lunch Bag by Dabbawalla (Machine Washable, Personalizable).
3:: Red Scooter Lunchbox by So Young (PVC, Phthalate free, lead safe).
4:: Zoo Lunchies Cat by Skip Hop (BPA, Phthalate free).
5:: Big Apple Buddies Lunch Bags by BUILT NY (PVC, BPA free).
6:: Busy Bee Personalized Lunch Box by Frecklebox (Lead free tin, Personalizable).


Carboard Luxury: DIY Cartabianca Dollhouse

From metal to plastic, from plastic to ecofriendly wood and cardboard, dollhouses have definitely gone through heavy evolution, and we love new concepts like this one- a dollhouse that your child can build on his/her own. 
The Cartabianca Cardboard Dollhouse is a toy that leaves a lot of space for creativity and imagination, since children can color it any way they like. It is also a very crafty toy with templates included to print furniture and decorations, so your child can also work on motor skills and hand-eye coordination while cutting and folding the little pieces.
A recent find at Etsy's shop Cartabianca, this three-story Villa takes about ten minutes to be built. No adhesive tape or complicated tools are necessary. All parts of the house are pre-cut, pre-creased and sealed.  All you will need is paint, scissors and glue for decorations.
Without a doubt, this mini mansion is a tasteful present for little artists or aspiring architects! 

Cartabianca Cardboard Dollhouse available here.  


Favorite Picks for Kids: A Little Bit of Gold for a Trendy Look

We might not be ready yet for the end of summer or fall-winter collections, but stores are restocking their shelves and switching quickly to the new colors and styles for the upcoming seasons. One trend we are liking a lot is the use of  metallic gold over neutral colors on children clothes and accessories. As the holidays approach, it's usual to see the typical gold accents on outfits designed especially for the big celebrations, but  these are different. We are talking about casual, everyday clothing, accessories, and even nursery accents with a modern twist, nothing to remind us of royalty or the Rennassaince. It's just a touch of gold on stripes, polka dots,  or delicate prints over a gray, off-white or taupe canvas. 
Take a look at our favorite picks and tell us if you agree... These designs are totally cool!!

1:: Arlo Gold Project T-Shirt from Stella McCartney's new Gold Collection.
2:: Gold Metallic Baby Mocassins from Trumpette.
3:: Belle Tulle Dress also from Stella McCartney's new Gold Collection
4:: Oh Joy! Gold and Grey Baby Dress for Winter Water Factory.
5:: Gold Piggy Bank new from Jonathan Adler's Junior Collection.
6:: Heart Tee and Legging Set from Ivy and Olivia on "sale" right now.


Color Recreation: Chalk Art and the Magic of 3-D on the Ground!

It was very hot and humid like most summer days in New York, but at least, there was no rain. As everyone was hoping, it was dry, the only requirement for chalk art to exist and survive its short life.
A couple of weekends ago, twelve artists from different regions of the country were invited to New Paltz to celebrate the first Hudson Valley Chalk Art Festival, an explosion of color and creativity that really put to test the patience and endurance of its participants.
After hours under the inclement sun, mixing pastel colors, seating on their bent legs and kneeling against the concrete, the artists started to deliver and their stunning masterpieces began to evolve.
Just like at a regular gallery, we walked the hallways of the festival, this time looking at the ground, instead of admiring art on the walls. Portraits, animals, flowers and all sort of inspiration were represented, but what really blew our minds were the 3D images.
It is fascinating to let perspective fool our eyes and see how a pool painted on the flat ground all of a sudden has depth, or a group of hikers  climbing up to the top of a cliff seem to be ready to come out of the picture and grab your feet... Wow!!
A really cool event for the whole family, the festival also provided space for little hands to play and express themselves drawing with chalk on the ground. Forgetting about how messy chalk painting is, kids were having a ball on such a huge canvas... Fun!!

More info about the Hudson Valley Chalk Festival here.


Amazing: London Olympic Stadium Replica Built with LEGO

British were totally determined to amaze the world hosting the London 2012 Olympic Games and wow!! have they done so. The opening ceremony, the sport installations, the gorgeous settings around London, everything is meant to blow our minds, including this replica of the Olympic Stadium, made out of one hundred thousand bricks of Lego.
Just steps away from the official London Olympic Store in the Westfield Shopping Centre, the exhibit is drawing a huge crowd of visitors taking pictures, pointing at the mini figures and commenting about the masterpiece that took two months to be completed.
British Lego artist Warren Elsmore and his team of four people put 450 hours of intense labor on this project and included every little detail they could think of from the front and back of the original building. The glass-encased structure weighs 220 pounds and portraits the action going on at the stadium during competition with  Lego people seating in the audience, walking on the stairs, and athletes on a podium ready for awards ceremony.
Special Mini Figures were created by Lego, exclusively for the UK market representing the Great Britain Olympic Team and they can be seen on different spots of the replica, the medalists, a javelin thrower, a runner...
As if this job wasn't enough, Elsmore also replicated the whole Olympic Park with its aquatic center and basketball stadium. Even bigger, this piece required 250,000 blocks and it is exhibited at the Danish Village in London's St. Katherine's Docks... crazily amazing!!!  

Pictures courtesy of Yahoo! and Lego.