We all knew the Discovery Channel had green interests when it purchased Treehugger.com for $10 million, but now the Discovery Channel Store is featuring "eco-friendly" and "green gifts" toys for the 2007 holiday season. My family recently played with three of these products. Two of these toys (Pyramid Building Blocks and the Tolo Baby Carousel) will be featured in this post; one toy (the Hydrogen Fuel Rocket) deserves its own post, which will occur next week.
Wooden blocks are the best toys for children! Children learn so much from block play. Wooden blocks promote open-ended, creative play, and lay the foundation for geometry and mathematical learning. Although Pyramid Building Blocks may not be as open-ended as a Standard Unit Blocks, they present their own unique challenges that fascinate children and adults alike, as these Pyramid Building Blocks are designed for children ages 5-99. The Pyramid Building Blocks consist of 67 pieces, including 18 different shapes. At first, my six-year-old daughter was completely confused by the pyramid blocks. Yet after a few days, she became an independent, expert pyramid builder, although she insists on the calling the Sphinx a "human lion". These wooden blocks are made by Haba, a high-quality German toy company. I couldn't find any information on the forestry practices used in harvesting the wood for the blocks, although the company states, "We do however put a premium on materials that can be manufactured on an ecologically beneficial basis. We use primarily indigenous maple and beech wood and water-based paints for our toys. " Haba is also socially responsible. Part of their corporate philosophy is
Only a company that is profit-oriented can secure its future. We take the word social seriously! Both in terms of social benefits for our employees and in relation to our mutually successful relationship with our partners.
The only unfortunate thing that I could discover about the Haba Pyramid Building Blocks is they are manufactured in China.
The second toy we tested from the Discovery Channel Store was the Tolo Baby Carousel. Honestly, I don't know why they sent us this toy to review, given my stance on plastic toys. This classic, plastic baby toy is also made in China, which of course raises the red flag of junk toy; however, this plastic does not contain any Bisphenol-A, Phthalates or Formaldehyde. The baby carousel is made by Tolo, "the #1 selling toy line in Europe and the UK and the most earth-friendly non-wood pre-school toy you can buy". Very young children do find baby carousels fascinating. They love to press the top of the carousel and watch it spin and keep spinning, discovering the properties of physics through their early play! Although this toy does not require batteries (an eco plus!), I am not sure I can classify it as an eco-toy...I just can't get past the plastic, no matter how "earth-friendly" it is. You decide: Is this a junk toy?
Stay tuned until next week, to find out what happens when a 38-year-old boy plays with a hydrogen fuel rocket...
Images courtesy of Discovery Channel Store.