Today, I am featuring one of my favorite Park Slope toy stores. Norman & Jules, established in 2012 by long time Park Slope residents, Courtney Ebner and Avi Kravitz, has one of the most beautiful selection of handcrafted toys that not only encourages imaginative play in kids of all ages, but many of them are great for working on improving a variety of fine motor, visual motor and visual perceptual skills. One of the things that I find sets it apart from many of the other toy stores I shop in is the fact that almost none of their toys are battery operated, make lots of noises (the Loog Electric Guitarmakes noise but teaches children how to make music) or lights up in crazy ways. The gifts that you find here are ones that will end up in your family for years and years.
Norman & Jules is committed to providing parents and children with options that are not only aesthetically beautiful, but are carefully crafted from sustainable materials. Norman & Jules works with a number of local and international artists and craftsman in order to support both our community and other entrepreneurial spirits.
Being an occupational therapist and having spent much of my career working with children who were born prematurely, I love the fact that a percentage of all sales at Norman & Jules are donated to The March of Dimes. This beautiful gesture is in honor of their 6 year old daughter Charley and other children who have spent time in the NICU due to premature births.
Below, you will find Courtney and Avi's picks for this holiday season. If you are in the neighborhood or looking for one of a kind toys that you won't find elsewhere, please be sure to check out their store.
Make A Face-How are you feeling today? Express your feelings with Moon Picnic’s Make a Face kit! This adorable, silly, sad, scared, laughing, crying, grumpy, happy, kookie kit is a fun way to play with your emotions. Originally inspired to help children with Autism find an outlet to best describe their emotions, Make A Face has become a fantastic tool for parents of children with all abilities to discuss emotion in a comfortable and fun environment. Use the eight different facial features on your face plate and make a face to match your feelings! Make a puzzle game with the play booklet to match frightening and funny faces or cute and clever creations. Use your imagination to make emotions all your own!
This kit is made with solid beech wood and non toxic paint.
*OT skills that can be worked on using Make A Face is improving fine motor and grasping skills, hand-eye coordination, motor planning and organizational skills. If you follow some of the images in the pamphlet that comes with the toy, you can also work on visual motor and perceptual skills
Min Yellow Star Light -Wish upon a special star every night with this charming light beside your child’s bed. A Little Lovely Company has a fantastic knack for making products that make everyone say “Aww!” Touch activated, battery powered and eco-friendly, this whimsical little light is redefining the night light. With a friendly face and soft LED glow, Mini Yellow Star Light is an eye-catching accessory made especially for wishing for a good night’s rest and the sweetest of dreams. The touch sensitivity lets your child easily control this small night light all on their own. It’s also a wonderful way for children to feel safer in the dark and at bedtime. We all know how tricky that can be! The Mini Yellow Star Light will help everyone feel safe and cozy at bedtime.
*this is a great gift for a child who may have a hard time winding down at the end of the day and having a hard time falling asleep. The soft light will help calm a child down and relax.
Bella Nail by Nailmatic-Let your child be the stylist and the star with Nailmatic’s Bella nail polish! This brilliant concoction of color and fun is a darling and safe way to play with nail color. Made specifically for little fashionistas, this nail polish can easily come off with warm soapy water. With no mess and no stress, Nailmatic polishes are a fantastic way for children to play together to further develop their social and fine motor skills. Enjoy having your very own nail artist right in your home!
*I love these nail polishes and have used them with my own daughter. Putting nail polish on is a great fine motor activity for those older girls who are resistant to doing work for parents. Also great for working on improving bilateral coordination, crossing midline and visual motor and perceptual skills.
Stencil City-Use tools to create your own world with fun packs in Stencil City! Each stencil sheet is full of creative characters, outdoor elements, automobiles and accessories, with big buildings to make a wacky world all your own! A fantastic way to play for children of all abilities, Stencil City helps children develop their fine motor skills and find pride in their carefully crafted creations. Great for kids to play during quiet time alone or as a family activity, Stencil City will be hours of fun for everyone!
*OT skills that can be worked on with Stencil City are improving fine motor, grasping and graphomotor skills, improving bilateral coordination and hand-eye coordination. Also works on encouraging creativity and imagination as they build their scenes.
Rainbow Bowl Sorting Game-These differently colored bowls, each containing a fish, a star, and a heart, turn learning colors and shapes into a fun game for everyone! With the stylized simplicity for infancy, this clever set will grow in difficulty as your child grows up. Introduce the oversized tweezers to add an extra challenge as your child ages and develops greater hand dexterity. The genius behind the sorting game is that it can truly be hundreds of games in one, helping your child develop and grow for years. The only limit is your imagination! Add building blocks and use these unique shapes to create worlds, play matching games with the colors and shapes, role play dinnertime fun with the tweezers and pieces, we can’t wait to see how you play!
*OT skills that can be worked on with the Rainbow Bowl Sorting Game are color recognition and identification, improving fine motor, grasping skills, building hand strength, improving visual skills, bilateral coordination and focus and attentional skills.