08 December 2011

Review: Makedo "build-your-own-toy" connectors

Dawn's Makedo Green Dragon

If there were ever a "toy" made for Parenthackers, it would be Makedo.

Makedo partsMakedo isn't exactly a toy, not at first anyway. It's a set of tools that lets kids build toys out of materials lying around the house. Cardboard boxes, paper cups, toilet paper tubes...and anything else through which one could punch a hole.

One might be able to accomplish the same thing with scissors, paper fasteners and tape, but not as quickly, safely, or independently as with Makedo tools. Which means that young kids can apply their no-holds-barred creativity to serious construction projects.

As I'm sure you know, I'm a big fan of early independence and open-ended play. Makedo hits the jackpot with both.

Even better: Makedo tools are built to last, and to be reused many times.

Makedo marble run

Makedo Christmas Wreath

You would not believe what people create with Makedo parts. Check out this marble run! And this wreath! For more inspiration, visit the gallery and prepare to have your mind blown.

You can buy the "freeplay" Makedo tools by themselves, or, for a little more guided creativity, you can opt for a "find & make" kit.

Visit the Makedo shop for the full selection of Makedo kits, but for US holiday delivery, you're better off with Amazon. The selection is smaller, but all kits are eligible for Super Saver shipping, and some have great discounts.

* * *

Makedo Find & Make RobotThe giveaway is now closed. Thank you to all who entered! The winners will be notified via email.

Win it! I've got two Makedo Find & Make Robot kits to give away! I'll randomly choose two Parenthackers who answer the following question in the comments:

What's the most memorable holiday gift you received as a child?

Deadline to enter: Monday, December 12, 2011, 5pm PST (prizes will arrive in January 2012). No residence restrictions! Good luck!

Hat tip to Cool Mom Picks for introducing me to Makedo.

Your comments

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The childhood gift that made the biggest impact for me was the shiny red bike with a bow on it next to the Christmas tree.

Awesome giveaway!

A Curious George doll. One of my brothers spent his whole Christmas budget on it one year, because he knew I loved that monkey.

Most memorable holiday gift was definitely a bike.

One year my Aunt gave me a towel set. I was an early teen and I remembered thinking that it was the most ridiculous present ever. It turned out to be the longest used gift I got as a kid...that set lasted through college and many moves and they were nice towels. And in the end I found myself often thinking, "what a great gift" quite often. I think it changed my perspective on gifts for the better. (And oddly enough, I really can't think of any other gifts I got as a kid so, while this answer sounds strange, there you have it.)

Ooh, it had to be my big wheel. I loved that thing.

My most memorable gift was a puppy. My mom was not as thrilled as I.

My father used to give us lifesavers books every year, and we always knew what the square boxes were, except one year he replaced the candy with rolls of pennies. It was very memorable.

One year my sister and I got the Playmobile Victorian Mansion and our whole family spent the entire day assembling it! It was so much fun!

A dollhouse! I still remember how excited I was when I came downstairs and saw it under the tree!

oh my goodness this is on my list! my 6yo would SO dig these, he won't let me throw away boxes as it is!

My most memorable Christmas gift would probably have to be my Cabbage Patch Kid when I was 7. This was the year they came out and I heard on the news how hard they were to get and people lining up for them and I cried because I was sure I wouldn't get one. Somehow an uncle scored two and my parents claimed one. The best surprise!

My most memorable gift was an electricity set of all things. I really wanted it and was convinced that I was not going to receive it because it was too expensive. I was thrilled!

cabbage patch kid

I remember getting an Atari with an E.T. game. The best part is the game system was already connected to the TV, and the game was in the Atari -- ready and waiting for me to start playing it as soon as I saw it! Awesome.

The Barbie Townhouse, hands down.

Playmobil doll house

A Cabbage Patch Kid when I was five.

Most memorable gift? The box the gifts came in. I grew up in Hawaii, my cherished grandparents lived in New Jersey. We spent two weeks every summer with them. In December a big box would arrive full of gifts. The best part of the whole holiday season was coming home from school, finding that big box in the middle of the living room, cracking it open, sticking my head inside, and getting a big whiff of them and their house. Good times.

Most memorable gift was an AT-AT from The Empire Strikes Back. I played with that thing for years.

Cabbage Patch Kid.

An art kit with pencils, paints, and pastels all beautifully lined up in a wooden case. I loved that so much.

My son would LOVE these! My most memorable Christmas gift was a big Strawberry Shortcake house.

One of my most memorable gifts was a pogo ball. Anyone remember those? It was like an oblong rubber ball with a plastic ring around it that you stood and bounced on, like a pogo stick but without all the hassle of a stick.

My most memorable gifts were always jigsaw puzzles-I was a fanatic. By the end of Christmas day I had always gotten started on one.

I remember certain events more than the things I've gotten. Which is better, for me, because I have a few memories of celebrating Christmas with the whole family together, before my parents divorced. I'm the oldest, and I don't think my siblings can remember that.

Ping-pong ball gun. Memorable because I knew my parents
Were broke and managed to wrangle me this simple toy.

I can't remember any holiday gifts (not that I didn't get any).

I remember the year my twin brother and I got moon boots for Christmas. One of those gifts that we were so excited about at first, but the novelty wore off pretty quick.

My most memorable gift was my very first wrist watch (wind up Snoopy - still have it though it doesn't work) - I felt very grown up!

I would have to say my first block of Legos...i played with them for a long long while and my parents still have them for my kids to play it

My favorite gift would have been the dollhouse kit I received when I was 10 or 11. I built the 3-storey house all by myself, even hot glueing the cedar shingles to the roof. Now, 20+ years later, my six-year old adores playing with it.

The Sunshine Family Van. I begged and begged and begged for it. Finally, my parents took an audio recording of me (sobbing) and promising "I will be happy for the rest of my life if you only get me a Sunshine Family Van". I got it, and they played the recording back several times afterward when I was less-thank-Sunshine-Family-Van-Happy. After their point was made, they put the recording away until I was a young adult and we could all laugh at it. But, the family had that van for years and years. I think I finally OK'd passing it on to another child when I was in college.

My favourite toy at Christmas would have to be the Cabbage Patch Kid my mom hunted down for me, braved the crazy stores for me, and fought the insane waves upon waves of other parents just to get for me.

I didn't know that at the time, LOL! I have four kids of my own now, and still have my Flora Martina CPK :)

My favorite gift was an outfit my mother had made for my doll when I was 5. She had knitted both the pants, the top and the hat. It must have taken her ages. I thought the doll was new too but she had "disappeared" a couple of weeks before. It goes to show you how little commercialism played back then :) I still actually have the outfit with the doll (my three year old plays with it)

Most memorable: Malibu Barbie and Malibu Ken, memorable not for their intrinsic worth but because my sister showed me them in Mom's closet a couple of weeks before Christmas, and gave me a knowing, "Told you he was a myth," look when I opened the presents. The cruel, cruel truth-telling of older siblings!

My first bike- given to me by my much older brother who picked on me horribly (or so I remember). A pink Huffy, with a banana seat and streamers.

My most memorable gift was actually a hand-me-down "Showboat" toy where you could put on famous plays using backdrops, characters and scripts provided in the box. It was so, so cool. I have tried to find it again now that I am an adult, but can't find it anywhere!

I still remember getting that dollhouse with all those play mobile people and furniture! This gift would be great!

My Kodak camera! That used real film! And those flashbulb attachments!

When I was about 7 years old, my mom made a giant Barbie house for my sister and I from scratch. Real carpeted bedrooms, astro turf on the rooftop patio by the pool, tiled kitchen, lovely hand sewn curtains in every window. It was to die for! I still remember exactly how it looks, 25 years later!

We were very poor when I was little but I desperately wanted this red woven sewing basket and supplies. I showed it to my mother and said something like "I know we can't afford this but I sure do like it". Lo and behold, she bought it for me for Christmas. It was the best gift I ever had and I used it for many years.

The most memorable gift I ever received was a sewing box from my mom...I think I was 7 or 8. I grew up sewing and crafting and I still have and use the same sewing box! MakeDO looks fabulous!!! Thanks for the chance to win.

My most memorable gift? A surprise trip to Disney World!

My TMNT toboggan. Definitely my favorite gift/memory!

I was just going to order some kits from Amazon!

My most memorable gift must be my Raggedy Ann doll when I was about 4. It was just as tall as I was, and we danced for years after!

Lots of little things wrapped in big boxes.

The gift that stands out to me was when I got the entire set of Little House on the Prairie books. I still have them- saving them for my daughters to read in a few years!

My mother used to give me one present each year from Mrs. Claus. I was the only girl in the family, and the only one who got a present from Mrs. Claus. The year I turned 14, she gave me a very pretty ring. With three little diamond chips in it and a filigree cut, somehow acknowledging my growing up while still allowing me to revel in childhood traditions. By then, of course I knew there was no Santa and had for a long time. But it was such a mom-like thing to do. Now, each year, my daughter gets one piece of jewelry from Mrs Claus --although still costume jewelry at her age.

Best gift ever was a big brown teddy bear for my first Christmas in the States as a kid. That bear became a dear friend, endured many runs through the laundry machine as well as several attempts by mom to go into the garbage can, and even accompanied me to my first semester at college.

My most memorable holiday gift was a desk. Santa brought it when I was ten, and it was my desk until I graduated from college. It had roomy drawers on one side, and the best pencil drawer of any desk I've ever owned or used. I loved that thing!

My first two-wheeler bike. It was rainbow colored (mostly yellow, orange and red) with a white basket, and streamers on the handlebars. I. Loved. It.

My Rock Star Barbie...with gold jumper, and gold jacket. I was so excited!

I have a few that I remember a lot. When I was really little Santa didn't come to my house, he went to my grandparent's instead and left a stuffed Tiger as big as me (just under 4'). I remember my uncle getting my sister and I cabbage patch dolls, and I got a boy doll and couldn't figure out why he'd given me that one - but it was the one he thought I was pointing at and I loved him anyway.

The most memorable, but least used has to be the train set. It was well past the age of disbelief, but my family still did Santa gifts. My parents spent almost all night setting up our new train set on an 8'x4' piece of plywood. When my sister and I woke up (and my parents eventually dragged themselves to consciousness - they confessed they had loads of fun playing with the train the night before.) It was a great gift and we all loved it, but it rarely came out because it was so much setup. Although my dad is hoping to set it up this year for all of us to enjoy when we come down after Christmas.

My most memorable childhood gift was my cabbage patch doll with a pacifier. I loved that doll!!

A weird color-block sweater that I wore non-stop for the next year, even in summer.

Starbright Sparkles, she projected flowers onto the ceiling in the dark. Oh, hw I loved that! I got a typewriter as a teen when I'd asked for a computer. That one was memorable in a different way. :) I had a hard time using it for homework but I managed!

When I was somewhere around 11, my aunt gave me a typewriter. It was so unexpected--I never would have thought to ask for one--and she somehow knew that I wanted to be a writer. It made me feel like someone really "got" me, which was a big deal to me at that age.

My most memorable Christmas gift was a mickey mouse watch.

A Cabbage Patch Doll! These Makedo tools look fantastic.

I rode horses as a kid and was obsessed with all things horse. My most memorable gift was a series of gifts al related to my horse: horse blanket, saddle pad, halter, etc in matching green and blue colors.

A doll house with full electricity - my grandfather had started it for my eldest cousin and built the whole thing by hand. By the time he was done, I was the girl who was of age to enjoy it. It was amazing!

A 6hp engine for my rowboat. Best little fishing boat a boy could want.

The year Dad got me a real chemistry set, much to my Mom's horror! I was 9 or 10, and it had a real alcohol burner and bottles of chemicals labelled "harmful or fatal if swallowed!" (I never did eat them, or blow up the house, but did become a Chemical Engineer...)

One of our first computers :) I believe it was a Compaq Presario, and I remember it particularly well because it was the biggest box I had ever seen under our tree!

My most memorable gift was a wrist watch that glowed in the dark. I liked having a watch, but glowing in the dark was what really made it special!

An old-school American Girl doll--Samantha. I can still remember where she was under the tree and coming into the living room Christmas morning to find her.

There was one year we got all of the furnishings for our heirloom dollhouse. That was a magical year.

The big box the hobby horse arrived in. Age 4.

Steerable sled on 3 skis (from the Sears Catalog).

My kids now use it whenever there's enough snow.

My parents NEVER got us the popular presents on everyone's list but one year, somehow, we got Cabbage Patch dolls. With strollers. Bliss.

My most memorable gifts is the time I get to spend with my family. I live in different state than my parents and brother, so any chance we get to be together for happy reason is a blessing.

My most memorable childhood gift was a very pink metal cash register. I just loved it...I guess our consumerism woes did start in the 70's.

a favorite doll

There was a puppy under the tree the Christmas I was seven. That was pretty amazing!!

A magic set. We spent many evenings putting on magic shows for my parents, and any one else who we could get to watch us!

This giant stocking full of toys and games my mother won from a giveaway. Heh.

Three oranges in my stocking when I was around 11 years old. I was trying so hard to persuade my parents that I still believed in Santa...

My most memorable Christmas gift was one that I gave my Dad. He was working away from home and had a lot of free time, so I gave him a GameBoy, of all things.

A Steamfitter with a GameBoy.

He loved it, and was happy playing Super Mario Brothers or whatever the default game was.

My most memorable gift was a socket set. I was 8, and not a girly girl, but still my reaction was, "Did you mean to give this to my brother?"

I remember when my mom bought us The Little Mermaid on VHS. I thought it was so amazing and I think I wore it out watching it!

A tea party set when I was five. The extreme joy is evident in an old photo.

My most memorable gift: Three story Barbie townhouse that had an elevator in it.....LOVE LOVE LOVED that thing.

Definitely my Cabbage Patch kid! After that, a Victorian dollhouse.

My letter sweater when I was in 10th grade!

A nice big telescope for stargazing.

Definitely Cabbage Patch Kid.

The Fisher Price house my Grandpa made. It was a type of dollhouse, but short and squat (kind of like FP people) and all the furniture was made to their size.

My first camera! I was 11 or 12, I think.

My most memorable sad gift was a box of clay without an accompanying battery opperated pottery wheel. My most memorable happy gift was a graphing calculator from my brother, a year after I had started engineering school.

My most memorable gift was a unicycle! I was in second grade and I wanted one because my older sisters had it and I didn't. I became very good at it, while my sisters quit riding theirs.

I remember the anticipation of Christmas presents much more than I remember the actual presents. My brother and I would get up super early and lay on the couch looking at the lights on the tree, waiting for our parents to get up. I remember toys from my childhood: a huge teddy bear, a set of dishes, a toy sewing machine; but I don't remember the actual opening of presents. Odd.

It was the cabbage patch doll that I desperately wanted but didn't think my parents could afford. I was so happy until I opened the box and discovered her name was Dagmar Milly. Who does that to a kid? Who?

A beautiful handmade dark green and black mug, given to me the Christmas before college. It was the first mug that was "mine" and seemed to symbolize heading off on my own. I had so much coffee, tea, cocoa and ramen in that mug. Vivid memories of prepping Christmas gifts for my family in my dorm room, knocking back mug after mug of cocoa... that was more than 20 years ago. A few years back it chipped right where my lips hit it, so now it holds crafty supplies on my desk.

The holidays are the best memories I have of my ridiculously dysfunctional parents and the best gift I think I ever got was my bike! I didn't think we'd be able to afford one so I was so excited when I woke up and found it!

It wasn't my gift, but my sister's: a stuffed koala bear she carried through everything. 35 years later, this now threadbare animal has a special place of honor in her home.

A whole set of baby doll clothes, dresses and coats all with matching hats, made by my granny. I especially loved one blue, green and yellow dress and hat because the colors were chosen (from the rag bag) by my sister on a sick day home from school. For years the whole set lived in a disco-themed suitcase that I also got for Christmas that year. I played with those for years - and I'm pretty sure my mom still has some of those doll clothes.

A cabbage patch doll complete with sweaters my grandma had crocheted, and clothing my mom had sewn.

The most memorable gift I received was a handmade dollhouse from my grandpa.

I enjoyed reading the responses here. My most memorable toy was a Speak-and-Spell that I got when I was 7.

When I was a child, I spent countless hours with my grandfather, helping him build all sorts of things in his garage workshop. He was so patient, and taught me that a girl can make anything. That time was and is priceless to me. Fast forward 30 years - recently my dad gave me the most precious gift, my late grandfather's hammer. As a grown up kid, it was and is the most memorable Christmas gift I have received. Rusty, nicked and worn, but my favorite thing.

Big Baby -- the doll as big as I was!

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