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Best Alphabet Toys & Decor: Won’t you sing with me….

By Melissa Summers

389685634_100d4ebcbf.jpgFirst, last week I told you I’d update you when we made our final decision about our valentines. After a lot of discussion we all agreed to make the chocolate treats and use the robot valentines so the kids would be able to write their names on the cards. You can see the process here and the final product here.

They could also write little notes to certain little boys which read things like, “Dear So-and-So, I have a crush on you.” This is okay because ‘So-and-So’ made the first move this summer when he wrote Maddie a long note about how much he likes her and made her a cute little necklace. Just FYI, the first boy who had a crush on me (and expressed it) was, uh….my husband who I met when I was 20. Maddie must get her charm from her father.

But Valentine’s Day is over and now I want to show you some alphabet kid stuff. Kids like learning their letters and since learning letters is the first building block of actually reading it’s not a bad thing to encourage. Also, the world needs more kids singing their abc’s because there isn’t a lot cuter than that.

The classic ABC toy is blocks, and classic has it’s place but I found some twists on the classic. These sets offer braille, lowercase letters, sign language symbols and even a math set, but you know, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I like this set because the set will grow with your child as they conqer letters, they can conquer braille or sign language spelling. Spelling with your hands comes in handy in school, at the very least so you can communicate across your classroom without interrupting anyone. [via Baby Gadget.]

Logan gave me the links to these next two block sets both made (or inspired) by well known designers. The first set is from The Land Of Nod and designed by Michael Mabry. It includes capital and lowercase letters, numbers and adorably illustrated objects and animals, like a cat on the ‘F’ block named “Fifi”.
House Industries is one of my husband’s favorite places to buy fonts for work and I think he’s been dying for a reason to share these blocks. Alexander Girard was a textile designer from Herman Miller. These alphabet puzzle blocks were inspired by his designs and include letters, sunbursts, words and, when arranged correctly, a lovely picture. Your baby doesn’t just want to learn her letters, she wants to do it with mid-century flair.

Another classic alphabet toy is refrigerator magnets. There are always the classic plastic letters but when I saw this adorable set from MyMimi at a friend’s house and I wished my kids didn’t know how to read yet so I could buy them for our fridge. Yes, my daughter is 8….she could be in the remedial reading group or something.

I love this Animal ABCs Flashcard Ring because of the design but also the portability. I had a little girl who could not handle driving in the car for more than, oh, 5 seconds. It might have been nice to keep these in my glove box as a ‘special car ride toy’. Instead I kept a steady stream of pretzel rods flying into the backseat. Effective, but incredibly messy.

I like the vintage look of these alphabet cards illustrated by Beth Nelson. You can use them for kids to play with or as decorations in a kids room. I can see buying two sets and framing the letter side and the illustration side of the cards in one frame. Maybe just 5 or so of your favorite illustrations, or maybe your child has a ‘favorite letter’. My son, for example, likes ‘W’ because it’s “Fun to write.”

Those cards created a nice segue for me, except that I just made it very awkward by announcing the smoothness. Anyway, wall art for your kid’s room is another way to bring the alphabet into your house. Remember, we want cute kids singing their abc’s, if it’s in their room they will learn the alphabet even while they’re sleeping.

Remember Binth of the utterly lickable baby book? This poster is nearly as lickable. It’s inspired by mid-century Danish wood toys, and the color scheme is so lovely. It fit right into a Martha nursery, like the ones Hilary at Wee Wonderfuls shared months ago. If the poster is too much, Binth also offers individual letters.

You can spell your child’s name if you were smart like me and went with a three letter name, if you liked a longer name, you can just do initials.

Alphabet Works offers custom painted on canvas letters. You choose the color, the font and the size you want and magic fairies deliver an custom piece of art to your house. Maybe not fairies, but if you order it, it will come and look all nice in your kid’s room.

Since we’re in your kid’s room anyway (see? Segue….unsmooth segue) let’s look at some alphabet bedding. These alphabet pillows are so cute I would love to see them on my daughter’s bed. No I wouldn’t buy the whole alphabet, I would only buy ones to spell out: “Please Go To Sleep And Stop Asking Me Questions. For The Love Of God.” Wait, that’s the whole alphabet isn’t it?

This alphabet duvet is simple, but still colorful. It doesn’t beat you over the head with the alphabet, it just sort of says, “Here, I’m laying out the letters for you and you can do what you want with them. Go to sleep under them if you feel like it.” Besides, if osmosis learning is going to work, it’s most likely going to work if your kid is laying underneath the alphabet while they sleep. Oh and it comes with a storybook.

Up next, (hopefully not published at 11:59pm Thursday) things to keep your kids busy at restaurants, or other places they need to be reasonably quiet and entertained so your kid doesn’t decide ketchup is just like finger paint.

Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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  • I would only buy ones to spell out: “Please Go To Sleep And Stop Asking Me Questions. For The Love Of God.” Wait, that’s the whole alphabet isn’t it?
    Where can I get me one of these? Those are exactly the letters I need. Why buy the whole set when you can tailor it to your child’s idiosyncracies? I’d also need one for my younger son, something like, “Being afraid is OK; we’re all afraid of something; you’re not going to die tonight, promise. Can’t you just be afraid of monsters like NORMAL children are?” But then maybe that’s a little too dark to be marketable.
    I had a very cute Anne Geddes alphabet poster up in my older son’s room when he was a baby.

  • Mir

    When I win the lottery, I shall have the entire set of alphabet pillows strewn about the playroom floor.
    Of course, the kids will probably be in college by then, and less charmed than I might hope….

  • Great list! Also, don’t forget Sweet Juniper’s graffiti alphabet book?

  • MelissaS

    Dream Big Mir. Think of it as *inspiration* if not a ‘shopping list’.
    Erika, than you for bringing it up. I get some ‘criticism’ for featuring my friends. So I hesitated to include it. But it’s an excellent find.
    I’d love to see a poster even. Or individual photos for framing.

  • Oh, how I wish my kids were young enough that I could find an excuse to have these. Especially the Alexander Girard blocks. Well, I suppose I could hot-glue them all over the wall, couldn’t I?

  • Do you know where I could find the Beth Nelson (vintage-y looking) cards? Those are fantastic.
    [Ed Note: oops! Thank you for the catch! Edited to add link.]

  • No I wouldn’t buy the whole alphabet, I would only buy ones to spell out: “Please Go To Sleep And Stop Asking Me Questions. For The Love Of God.” Wait, that’s the whole alphabet isn’t it?
    Hah! I hear you, sister! I need just those pillows for my older son, and another set for my five-year-old, which would include these letters:
    There is nothing to be afraid of, unless you come downstairs for the fourteenth time to ask when you are going to die. Not for a long, long, long time.
    Do I sound unsympathetic? I was sympathetic about a month ago. Now? Not so much.
    We used to have an adorable Anne Geddes poster of the alphabet, each letter a photo of a baby with an object starting with the letter.

  • Also:
    and these were pointed out to me as very similar to my project:
    And there’s a guy who makes modern furniture in the shape of the alphabet. I forget his name.

  • Melissa, I love the Buzz Off–it always makes me want to buy the things you recommend. (This is not good for the budget, new baby and all, but who cares? These things are terrific!) But it is not my turn to buy toys, it is my husband’s turn. I must send him to your post.
    Also, I really doubt your husband was the first to have a crush on you. There were others, they were just dumb and didn’t say anything. This same rationale explains why I had no dates to any high school dances until I asked a guy to my Senior Prom.

  • Ooh! So cute! My mom got my 10-month-old a set of wooden alphabet blocks for Xmas, but, oddly, they smell like they’ve been smoked. You know, like smoked sausage smoked. Nice smell, but odd.
    I just bought a set of 12″x12″ interlocking foam alphabet/number mats, similar to these. Got ’em from eBay of all places – she loves them! Chewing on them, but love nonetheless.

  • I must own those Alexander Girard blocks. Maybe two sets: one for me and one for the two year old. Oh, forget it. She can get a job and buy her own darned blocks.

  • Helena

    We have an awesome “Tucson Alphabet” poster that I ordered the week I found out I was pregnant. It’s still tucked behind a cabinet, waiting for someone to take it to the frame shop. . .

  • Helena, I love that. I think someone (Dutch of Sweet Juniper) needs to do a detroit version.

  • Johschmoh

    I’m glad someone already mentioned Sweet Juniper’s graffiti alphabet. Very cool, that. I need a copy, and I may or may not share with my two wee ones.
    Also, I recently spent an hour or more at Wonderful Graffiti’s web site. They’ve got very thin adhesive letters that look painted on, but peel off the walls or what-have-you when you want to move them. They have some fun illuminated letters (to go with the alphabet theme), quotes, and can do custom work. Including “Please Go To Sleep And Stop Asking Me Questions. For The Love Of God.”

  • These are some absolutely wonderful alphabet goodies. I’m going to have to bookmark this post so that I can add some of the items to my (I mean Sprout’s) wishlist. Another resource that I love is this Etsy seller.
    She has wooden alphabet blocks with nursery rhymes or snippets of songs and stories. She also uses recycled crayons to make letter shaped crayons to spell out words and names.

  • Darn it, I wish I’d seen these valentines sooner. The Lust one is so funny. Oh well, there’s always next year.

  • melissaS
  • I like the sign language blocks. My sister is deaf and those would help her kid learn better