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Top Green Gifts for Earth Day 2009

Top Green Gifts for Earth Day 2009

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Updated on Apr 2, 2014

In spring, and especially on Earth Day, families and communities come together to celebrate the planet and find ways to protect it.  In that spirit we present this year's list of green gifts: 18 toys, games, and books that are fun, safe, educational and environmentally on point. Our reviews are grade-specific, ranging from preschool through second grade. So if you're looking for something to help further your child's understanding of the natural world, expand her global awareness, or if you just want ideas for great toys that will keep your environmental conscience in the clear, we've got you covered.

Preschool:

Excavator Kids love trucks and parents love getting kids outside. But if you've been feeling guilty about all the plastic your family sends to the landfill once an outdoor toy's novelty wears off, this excavator is for you. Molded out of sprigwood, a durable material made of reclaimed pine sawdust from the cabinet industry, infused with recycled plastic from milk jugs, bottles, and containers, colored with a non-toxic dye, and packaged in recycled cardboard, this little digger gives garbage a second chance. Not only is the excavator eco-friendly and battery-free, it's a ton of sandbox fun. Get down and dirty with the scoop-and-lift action of the excavator's shovel, then use the rotating chassis of the truck body to get that dirt out of the way! A flip open cab and easy-grab handles make play easy for little hands. Kids are sure to dig it! (Sprig Toys, $15)

 

Softies Simply Natural Puppets When it comes to comfort, stuffed animals are at the top of most kids' wish lists. But with tons of teddies to choose from, it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Luckily, this line of softies stands above the rest. Eco-friendly animals on the outside, playful puppets on the inside, they're made from 100 percent natural cotton and colored using vegetable dyes. Even the tag is made from 100 percent recycled paper. Although parents will care that these softies are safe and eco-friendly, kids will love them for their cute looks and cuddly ultra-soft fabric. Choose from lion, elephant, pig, cow, hippo, and monkey. (Russ Berrie, $17.99)

 

School Bus and Children What's better than knowing your child's toys are made of renewable, nontoxic materials? Knowing that your purchase helps to improve the lives of struggling artists in third world countries. This big yellow school bus is a Fair Trade product--handmade in Sri Lanka from albizia wood, one of the fastest-growing trees on earth, and colored with nontoxic paints. It comes from the Gospel House Handicrafts Artisan Group, which provides training and work to young adults with little prospect of employment. A great way to pay-it forward, the toy provides hours of creative play. While they "pick up" the 16 brightly painted children that come with the set, preschoolers get comfortable with the idea of the school bus, and the importance of public transportation in an increasingly carbon-conscious society.   (Ten Thousand Villages, $64) 

10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh Young children are more conscious of the environment than you might think, and many have a pretty clear-eyed view of the rights and wrongs of taking care of planet Earth. But the specifics of just how to do it are a little less apparent. This charming and colorful book can lend a hand in giving your preschooler concrete suggestions for small steps he can take himself, every day. From turning off the faucet while brushing teeth to coloring on both sides of the paper, this book is full of kid-friendly ideas and whimsical illustrations to show your child that everyone, no matter how small, can help protect the Earth. Plus, it's made from 100% recycled material! (Candlewick, $10.87)

Eco Town Calling all future city planners! This toy gets kids ready to live in what will hopefully be a much greener world. With all the building blocks for pretend play-- a doll house, train station, road signs, and a place to fuel up-- this is the town we all wish we lived in, rather than the one we do. The street lights run on solar energy. The garbage cans sort recycling. Instead of gassing up, cars pull in for a charge. The doll house has solar panels and a wind turbine on the roof. And the train runs on electricity rather than dirty diesel. Even better, the manufacturer walks the walk, by using E-Zero glue, water-based dyes, and rubberwood which otherwise would be burned for CO2 producing charcoal. From the train conductor who bikes to work, to the neighbor scooting by on a Segway, this set lets kids go to town! (Eco Town, Plan Toys, $150.00) 

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