My son’s room is awash in LEGOs. His creations fill an entire bookcase, cover every inch of free space on the top of his dresser, and spill off his bedside table. He stages battles during which action figure Stormtroopers routinely escape action figure police, and as far as I can tell the action figure pirates are forever antagonizing the action figure construction guys. He builds epic spaceships, buildings, cities. It is an amazing sight to behold.
My daughter’s room? It looks a little different. Lots of dolls, lots of princesses, lots of frills and pink and purple and sequins. And I have tried so hard to change this up, even just a little bit. She has some LEGO creations as well, plus two well-used sets of GoldieBlox, and one little Roominate kit, too. But the vast majority of her room is dolls, fairies, and princesses. Oof.
Still, this isn’t all that surprising. Despite my best efforts to get her more interesting toys, there’s a sadly limited amount of “cool” options for girls. Spend five minutes in any toy or big-box store and you will see what I mean: aisles and aisles of building sets and STEM-type toys clearly intended for boys (no matter how or where they’re shelved, they’re unquestionably packaged to appeal to boys), and only a few such toys targeting girls.
That’s why I was so excited when I stumbled on Wonderhood’s building toys for girls. I was maybe 30 seconds into watching their Kickstarter video when I found myself nodding along to the words of Andrea Hollander, one of the two co-founders (both of whom are moms of girls, unsurprisingly): “Toys matter, because play isn’t just fun and games,” she says. “It has a powerful role in how children learn and who they aspire to be.”
She’s right. And these are great toys. The Wonderhood sets are open-ended, which means that each set comes with a journal that provides ideas, but no detailed assembly instructions; so girls are encouraged to use their imaginations and build in any way they want. The journals also include design challenges — which might be my favorite part — to get kids thinking and problem solving. One of the sets is a Grand Hotel, and a sample design challenge talks about how the King and Queen are arriving at the Grand Hotel via helicopter, so the building needs to be as tall as possible to make it easier for them to land. I can absolutely picture my 6-year-old daughter ruminating over this challenge and rebuilding her hotel to make it stretch as tall as possible.
The Wonderhood sets are also sturdy: They’re really meant to be played with, and even carried from room to room. Spend just a few minutes with the toys and it’s obvious that moms of actual children — moms who fully understand how children really play — developed them.
Andrea tells Babble that she and her co-founder Solange Schipani decided to launch the Wonderhood business “because we wanted more for our daughters and for girls everywhere. We think all girls should have access to toys that encourage them to play in ways that go beyond traditional stereotypes. And we wanted to create toys that develop a set of skills that traditional ‘girls’ toys’ don’t develop.” I’m guessing all parents can get on board for this. I know I certainly can.
Perhaps the best part about Wonderhood toys is that they’re not alone in this fight — they’re part of a movement. GoldieBlox toys were a hard-to-find outlier a few years ago, and now they’re a mainstream option found in virtually every toy store. Roominate is becoming more and more popular and easy to find. And even big companies are jumping on the STEM bandwagon: Mattel just launched a wildly popular Game Developer Barbie to rave reviews.
Soon when we walk into a toy store, we won’t see just a few cool options for our daughters. We, as parents, will have many choices that enable us to put something interesting, creative, and skill-building into our girls’ hands. And it’s clear that Wonderhood is going to be one of those great toys.
Since launching earlier this month, they’ve had a fantastically successful run on Kickstarter, and even reached their initial funding goal in just a few days. Andrea tells Babble that now they’re working toward a stretch goal that will enable them to offer two new building sets: a figurine pack (more people to play with in your girls’ awesome buildings!) and a Pet Palace (that I’m sure my daughter will beg me to get her). I for one can’t wait to see these hit toy store shelves.
You can donate to Wonderhood’s Kickstarter campaign and watch their promo video right here.