Green Toys and Fun Finds With Big Kid Appeal: Ten Under $10 Pt. 2

penguinDec. 23, 2009 Shhhhhh…I’m snagging one of the new “Smencils” that just arrived today ’cause I figure ‘less is more’ and ‘variety is the spice’ when it comes to stocking stuffers…She doesn’t need a whole ‘set’ right?

A whiff here and there and she’ll get the gist of the theme…100% recycled newspapers turned into a rainbow of scents and colors. I like finding inexpensive toys that appeal to big kids too (ahem, obviously) so I’m secretly coveting this little $5 waddling penguin as a desk toy because it makes the ‘She Geek’ in me smile, reminding me of the Linux logo!

It appears to be a typical wind up critter, but like the other scores in my post yesterday from Reach and Teach ‘ten under $10’ it’s FAR from some lame ‘kids meal’ toxic action figure, it comes from a green eco-sustainable company, Plan Toys with lots of feel good factor here…

Each lil’ fella is made of  “…natural rubberwood recycled from rubber tress no longer able to produce latex; wood is stabilized with a time consuming chemical-free kiln drying process. Non-formaldehyde glue is used in place of the traditional toxic wood glue. Non-toxic, water based dyes provides colors.”

So just by gifting it hopefully you’re tickling the imagination of what ‘can be done’ on a shoestring budget while imparting your own values of ‘choices’ when it comes to what companies get your hard-earned green.  

baby honuFor other excellent green gifts in reach and teach mode, I love tapping into Island Heritage, and have been imparting marinelife and aquatic messages from the get go…

Being from Hawaii, I used to read Tammy Yee’s “Baby Honu” often when she was just a ‘keiki’ so I guess I’ve been big on imparting ‘eco-themes’ and endangered animal/ocean messages for a looooong time…This one just squeaks into our ‘ten under $10’ list but  the poignant storyline and vivid illustrations make it worth every dime.

PLUS, we have an ongoing ‘turtle theme’ in our house, and collect sea turtle tales and endangered leatherback stories to impart media messages wherever we can. (e.g. The Great Turtle Race cartoon digital migration is a perfect use of edu-tech to engage kids with fun media messaging…note to Disney, your talking ‘Crush’ dude could take lessons here!) Her dear ol’ dad travels hither and yon so she’s got quite an exotic lineup of turtles (honu) from destinations all over the globe from Istanbul and Saudi Arabia to the Grenadines…wood, glass, figurines, earrings, you name it.

turtle earrings When I saw these  sustainable earrings of recycled gold (at left) I was tempted  (for my teen, I’m pierce-free, believe it or not) but the earrings are $30 so out of my stocking stuffer budget. Clearly I’m a cheapskate placing my ceiling at “ten under $10” but I think anti-consumption is a huge part of the eco-message too, and besides, as a nonprofit, I’m not exactly, er…’rolling in green’ so pennies count.

Next pick? Did I mention geckos are right up there with turtles in my critter adoration?–(again, it’s an island thing) Granted, geckos are not endangered, but they were when my dad’s flip-flop was around. I used to ‘rescue’ them from all kinds of circumstances as a child…even my pet dachschund, Agnes. (I set up a tissue box ‘hospital,’ a bandaid box ‘ambulance’ and the works…hmn, whatever happened to that ‘free play’ imagination, eh?) Anyone who’s spent any time in Hawaii knows they become beloved quite quickly…besides, they eat pesky bugs.

So… Gill McBarnet’s The Goodnight Gecko ($8.95 hardbound) is a bargain. Somewhat paradoxically, it can even be had for (ouch) a penny in the ‘used’ Marketplace list–(I usually advocate for less is more, but hey, how does that even make sense?! That would cost more to mail it—why not donate it to kids’ literacy programs like Room to Read instead?)

Anyway, I love that lil’ gecko, and used to read it to my lil’ wahine as a nightly ritual which I could recite equally well with Margaret Wise Brown’s classic Goodnight Moon. Truth be told, I enjoyed it even more since the gorgeous island artwork conjured visions of plumeria, tradewinds, clear island nites and simpler times.

parrot talksSpeaking of which, today I received my stack of tropical treasures ($9 code here through year’s end!) that I bought from my ol’ kamaaina high school pal  Everett Peacock.

Everett was our HS newspaper editor (journalism/writing clearly sticks from teen days!) and he’s now an author, webhead and entrepreneur living green and “off-the-grid” enjoying the island’s bounty via solar electricity and purified rain water. (that’s his new book at left)

Tiwaka the parrot and his tikibar tales come alive in The Parrot Talks in Chocolate which paints a rich love of nature instilling a natural respect for the planet in children that remains long after the story ends…(kids would love ‘talking’ to Tiwaka on Twitter, too…and the bird even has a Facebook page)

—Pretty impressive considering this mythical creature has almost 300 fans already and I haven’t even gotten around to posting a page for Shaping Youth yet. Sheesh, I’ve been bested by a bird.

Anyway, it’s no big secret I’m a huge champion of eco-literacy and the natural world of outdoor play. Everett’s love of same comes through in his whimsical prose…

I’ll bet  Joseph Cornell (Sharing Nature with Children) and even Richard Louv of ‘Last Child in the Woods’ (my post about Media Savvy Kids & Nature Deficit Disorder and kids green gardening  here) would love to hangout with Tiwaka and impart tidbits of wisdom on this ol’ blue marble.

daddy taught meSimilarly, bridging connectivity between parent-child bonds and nature is a brand new book called My Daddy Taught Me To Surf (slightly over my $10 ceiling, but PERFECT for an eco-pick as partial proceeds help the Surfrider Foundation to preserve our oceans! )

I’ll be doing a full feature on it soon, so this is a prequel to remind they have great gear (love the onesie!) and a wonderfully warm message surging between the waves of emotional parent-child connection, eco-appreciation, and love of the sea…

I absolutely LOVE the way these ventures are all using media/marketing in refreshingly positive ways, especially in this increasingly complex world of digitized offerings.

I guess that’s my cue to wrap it up for an obvious segue to ‘ten under $10’ in the digital sphere of apps, games and virtual world subscriptions that ‘reach and teach’ using media…Example?

Xeko cards Our friends at Elf Island known for their Good Quests have recently  merged with the eco Xeko adventure card trading company to form a new expansion to help kids help each other make a difference in the world…

Looks like they’re now using a social entrepreneur model to ‘adopt a virtual endangered pet in game’ and bring it to life to pay it forward in the real world too…“Be a force for good” and “Be a force of nature” are two synergistic taglines to be sure!

It’ll be interesting to see how they’re structuring this new approach and where they’re headed when we check back in for an updated interview in the New Year. (It’s now known only as

Finally, before we move on to digital/mobile just a reminder that Teens Turning Green is loaded with ‘under $10’ stocking stuffers in their collection of teen created skincare which you can snag from Whole Foods…My favorite from this bunch is Pomega5 cleansing bar, hands down. (my teen’s too; and we bought the whole collection at the last summit to have our crew try ’em out!)

Meanwhile, here’s a bit more on the green scene from EcoChild’s Play…(not sure how much is under $10, but…)

Meanwhile, Mele Kalikimaka! (Merry Christmas!) And Mahalo (thank you) for caring about kids–The ohana (family) I feel in this digital community of ours is profound.

Thanks for being here…Back soon.



  1. Highly impressed, found your site on Ask.Happy I finally tried it out. Not sure if its my Chrome browser,but sometimes when I visit your site, the fonts are really small? Anyway, love your page and will be back.See Ya

  2. These are some excellent suggestions and a great way to get the kids involved in the green movement at an early age. I think more focus should be placed on smaller everyday green items such as the ones you suggested. Surely beats those lead tainted China toys.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to comment Barry…love your input and POV…Have you seen the new Story of Stuff on e-electronics? You’d appreciate it no doubt…Green holidays to ya, best, amy

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