Nebulous Stars: Creativity, Quality and Positive Messaging for Girls 7 – 14



NEBULOUS STARS Tracing Light PadNEBULOUS STARS Tracing Light Pad

NEBULOUS STARS Tracing Light Pad

NEBULOUS STARS Tracing Light Pad


In our 30 years as toymakers and toy store owners, we have rarely seen a new line of creative “toys” as brilliant as Nebulous Stars. The creativity, quality and quantity of everything in the Nebulous Stars art & craft kits is amazing. And it’s all based on positive messaging specifically designed to boost self-confidence and self-esteem in girls from 7 to 14.


Tween Team President & Co-Owner Geneviève Lecompte

Nebulous Stars is created by Tween Team, a Canadian company located in Montreal. It was founded in 2018  and it’s headed by a woman. With many years of experience in the toy industry, much of it specializing in creative toys for girls, Geneviève Lecompte’s vision was to create a toy brand with a “unique environment that combines aesthetics, well-being, and positive values.

We liked it so much when we discovered Nebulous Stars in Quebec in 2018, we ordered everything that was ready for market, and we built a brand-new display area in our store just for Nebulous Stars.

NEBULOUS STARS Creative Sketchbook - Petulia

NEBULOUS STARS Creative Sketchbook - Petulia NEBULOUS STARS Creative Sketchbook - Petulia NEBULOUS STARS Creative Sketchbook - Petulia

NEBULOUS STARS Creative Sketchbook - Petulia NEBULOUS STARS Creative Sketchbook - Petulia

Our instincts were good.

Customers in our store in 2018 loved the Nebulous Stars too – we couldn’t keep the art & craft kits in stock. In 2019, we doubled the size of our Nebulous Stars display, so we could carry add the new craft and drawing kits and accessories.

Now… in 2020, Nebulous Stars is on our website too.


The Nebulous Stars universe offers girls from 7 to 14 years old a wide variety of artistic and creative activities that are entertaining while encouraging their personal development. In a world where children are affected by the chaos of modern life, Nebulous Stars art & craft kits can help girls reach a state of calm and well-being.

NEBULOUS STARS Glitter & Foil Art Kit NEBULOUS STARS Glitter & Foil Art Kit NEBULOUS STARS Glitter & Foil Art Kit

Nebulous Stars artistic activities are paired with positive, uplifting messages from our Stars. As girls enjoy our Nebulous Stars arts and crafts, they’re introduced to the calming practices of relaxation and meditation, while at the same time getting a boost to their self-esteem and inspiration for creativity.


– The Universe is Listening to You
– Believe in Your Dreams
– Never Give Up
– Focus on the Positive
– Stay Calm
– Beauty is Everywhere


To see our extensive selection of Nebulous Stars art & craft kits and accessories: CLICK HERE.

Free Gift-Wrapping

Free Gift Wrapping at The Toy Factory


At The Toy Factory, we love sharing the joy of creative play with families, especially for special events like Christmas and birthdays. And… if you have family living in a different city or town, we can help.
Free Gift Wrapping at The Toy Factory









If you’d like us to gift-wrap your purchase, please let us know in the Order Notes at our website checkout. We have colorful wrapping paper that’s suitable for girls and boys and perfect for all special events.
At Christmas, we use colorful seasonal wrapping paper – Santa is one of our best customers!
We’ll include a unique Toy Soldier gift card too, just let us know what you’d like us to write on the card for you.









When your gift is wrapped, we’ll e-mail a photo to you before we package it for shipping. That way, you’ll know how awesome your gift looks. But the best part? When your gift arrives, the shipping box can be opened without giving away the surprise inside. It’s completely free, and we love being able to help.



Hands-On @ The Toy Factory Workshop: The Airplane


Hands On @ The Toy Factory Workshop: The Airplane.

Turning a block of white pine into an old-fashioned wooden toy airplane is a multi-step process in our workshop.

It starts, like all our wooden toys, with simple templates we’ve designed – in this case for the airplane body, wing, tail & propellor.

Step 1:

We trace the airplane body templates on blocks of 2″ pine. Then we cut them out with our bandsaw, and drill holes for windows and wheels. We cut the other parts – wings, tails and propellors – from pine and maple using our table saw and bandsaw.

Airplane Parts














Toymakers Tip: To keep costs down, we try to always make our toys in “bunches” – 6 or 10 or 12 at a time. That way, we only set up our jigs and tools once, but we use them several times before moving to the next step in the toymaking process. It saves time, which helps us keep our prices low and save money for our customers.

Step 2: Sanding. And more sanding.

Kathy is sanding an airplane body on one of our big 6″ x 48″ belt sanders. It takes strong wrists, dexterity and plenty of practice to hold, turn and manipulate the airplane, to make sure every surface, edge and corner is perfectly smooth.













Kathy will use two other specialized sanders and a unique grinder before all the airplane parts are ready – no rough surfaces, sharp edges or pointy corners.
Toymakers Tip: With most toys, we spend more time sanding than on any other step in the toy-making process. That’s because Smooth = Safe.













Step 3: Pegging the wings & tail. This step is the most old-fashioned & unique: No Plastic or Metal Parts Found Here.

We use wooden pegs, white glue and sturdy clamps to secure the wings, tails and propellors to our toy airplanes. That means using special jigs, and a multi-step drilling and pegging process.









To allow us to drill down into the wing for the pegs that will attach it to the airplane, we fit the body into a special jig. It lowers the airplane’s nose, which levels the upper wing surface for easy drilling.











With white glue between the wing and the airplane, Dan holds the two pieces together, and drills the holes for the pegs.









Next, with a drop of white glue in each hole first, the pegs are pushed into the holes through the wings. They’ll be tapped down tight with a little toymaking hammer to lock the wing onto the airplane body.














Here, the airplane is flipped over into another special jig for drilling and pegging the tail.












Step 4: It’s time to install the propellor, and there’s no wasting time. The airplane needs to get into its clamps quickly after the wing and tail pegs are put in, before the glue starts to dry.












Step 5: Into the clamps. In 30+ years of toymaking, Dan has developed a knack for holding the airplane in its special jigs – inside an adjustable C-clamp – while tightening the clamp with his other hand. It’s not as easy as it looks.




























Notice how the little jig under the airplane makes that bottom surface level with the top surface of the wing, so the clamp will work properly. It also protect the airplane from the clamp – we tighten our clamps with a lot of force when making our toys. In toymaking, jigs are very important. We have dozens of original jigs in our workshop, designed specifically for making our wooden toys.

The Final Step – Time to Dry

With wings and tails securely clamped, our airplanes will hang to dry for 24 hours in our workshop.

When we remove the clamps the next day, we give the wings and tails a quick sanding to smooth off the tops of the pegs. Then, we give the propellors a test spin, and our new Airplanes fly out to their landing strip in our store.













Hands On @ The Toy Factory Workshop is a special feature designed to give our customers an exclusive look inside our toymaking workshop… where we make our wooden toys the “old-fashioned” way: handcrafted one toy at a time, with care and attention. 

Shop for our Airplane – or to see all our Toy Factory Wooden Toys, please click here.

Say “Hi” to Lottie… the Non-Barbie doll !



Hey ! It’s a doll just like me !!

Lottie dolls are a brilliant alternative to Barbie and Bratz.

These cute, poseable “non-Barbie” dolls are simply delightful – and delightfully simple.

Unlike the distorted body shapes of the Barbie and Bratz dolls, Lottie dolls look like real 9-year-old girls and have wonderful, realistic 9-year-old adventures.

And Lottie – literally – stands on her own two feet!

There’s No “Lottie Corvette” !

Responding to increasing demand from young parents for “non-Barbie” dolls, the concept behind Lottie dolls was developed over 18 months by a group of forward-thinking child development experts, parents, nutritionists and child psychologists in the UK.

More than 100 different “action points” were incorporated into Lottie dolls and accessories to empower children to be themselves, embrace individuality, enjoy their childhood and have meaningful and inspirational adventures.

Lottie doesn’t wear make-up or high heels. Instead, she promotes diversity, and exploring science, nature and different cultures.

Lottie has different skin, hair and eye colors.BRANKSEA FESTIVAL NON-BARBIE LOTTIE DOLL
School Days Lottie wears glasses.


Fossil Hunter Lottie is a budding geologist, and Stargazer Lottie is an amateur astronomer, with a telescope & tripod, solar system collector cards, and information about famous women astronomers.

And this is awesome: Stargazer Lottie was inspired by a real 6-year-old girl, and she’s the 1st doll to ever go into space !

Stargazer Lottie In Space

You’ll find an absolutely wonderful short video here about how Stargazer Lottie was inspired by little Abigail, and see her excitement as she watches Lottie’s amazing trip to the International Space Station with British astronaut Tim Peake in December 2015 !

GIRLS UNITED NON-BARBIE LOTTIE DOLL SOCCER OUTFITThese sweet dolls encourage imaginative play, but also challenge negative body image concerns and premature sexualization, says Melissa Taylor of

Each doll has a diverse personality, just like the children that play with them. The Lottie dolls have mini-story sets on the packaging to stimulate imaginative play, as well as supplementary online content and competitions to further engage children into wider thought-processes surrounding their toys.

“For example, the Fossil Hunter doll comes with three fossil hunting tools, four ammonite fossils, collector cards, and a backpack. So cool!”


Since they were introduced in 2012, Lottie Dolls have won more than twenty-one international toy awards, including the 2014 USA Family Choice Award, the 2015 UK “Loved by Parents” Award for Best Stimulative Toy for Ages 3 to 6, two Scholastic USA Gold Star Toy Awards, and an incredible six USA Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Best Toy Awards.

Here’s what Lucie Follett, the co-creator of Lottie, says about designing Lottie to be just the opposite of Barbie atSUPER HERO NON-BARBIE LOTTIE DOLL OUTFIT

“The main issue was protecting childhood and to stop allowing our kids to grow old too soon. To address these issues, Lottie has been based on the scientific proportions of a 9-year-old child, with the exception of her head, which has been increased to accommodate hair play. She does not wear jewellery, makeup or high heels.”

Her clothes are vibrant in colour and have significant attention to detail. Lottie’s clothes are very much activity based, in line with those of a 9-year-old instead of an adult. She wears pretty dresses, as well as hard-wearing clothes for muddy, outdoors play. Lottie allows kids to be kids and enjoy their childhood, in all its facets.”

Lottie is a feisty character; she can stand on her own two feet, and whilst she occasionally makes mistakes, she learns from them. She is not perfect. Lottie loves adventure and the outdoors and uses her imagination. In many ways, she is inspired by the spirited female characters in books we loved as children: Anne of Green Gables, Pippi Longstocking, Jo in ‘Little Women’, Nancy Drew…”

(See Lucie Follett talk about creating Lottie to be a “non-Barbie” doll in a 5-minute YouTube video here.)

Lottie’s Motto: Be Bold, Be Brave, Be You.





Click Here to see our complete collection of Lottie Dolls .

Click Here for wonderful Outfits for Lottie and her friend, Finn.

Click Here for delightful Pets & Accessories for Lottie & Finn .


Kids Get The Winter Blues too…

stressed-kid_web BLOG DOT TEAMSNAP DOT COM

Winter, Stress and Children

Are you tired of winter ? Feeling stressed ? You’re not alone !

Kids can suffer from the winter blues too. Even very young children experience stress. But kids don’t have the coping skills we’ve learned as adults.

Stress makes it more difficult for children to concentrate and to get along with others, which can lead to problems at school or day care. If stress is interfering with a child’s ability to focus or think, he or she may become anxious or afraid, using up energy on worrying that should be going into learning and playing.

Stress can also affect kids’ health. Research has found stress is a factor in 90% of illnesses.

Kid Stress

Beyond being cooped up indoors in stormy winter weather, which can be stressful for everyone in the family, what else can cause kids stress? Change is a big one, as it is for adults – moving to a different neighborhood, starting school or transferring to a new school, parents that are separating or newly divorced.

The death of a grandparent or a beloved pet can be more significant to a child that it might first appear, and serious illness or disability impacts all the members of a family.

Bullying is a big concern today too. Kids who are teased or bullied feel lonely and unloved.


How to Help

Children can learn simple, age-appropriate strategies to cope with stress, and as those skills develop, they feel more competent and resilient. Even if they might not be conscious of their increased confidence at first, they will notice it’s easier to relax, and to solve problems.

If you see signs of stress in a child, the most important thing you can do as a parent or grandparent is to spend time with them. Listen carefully when they talk to you, and try to understand and acknowledge how they’re feeling. Show them you love them with words and hugs, and do things with them – it will help them feel like they “belong” in the family.

Exercise is a great way to burn off stress, and wonderful “healthy” medicine if a child is having difficulty sleeping too. Make exercise a regular part of your family life. Get outside – go sledding, skiing, skating or snowshoeing.

Take a hike… or go swimming. Getting to swim in a steamy pool in the middle of winter is a real treat for a child, and a lot of fun for a family.

Participating in recreational activities together creates perfect opportunities to talk to kids, especially adolescents and teens, in a non-judgmental, non-threatening way. Share ideas, and talk about how you feel about things.

Communication is Key

If you think your kids are feeling stressed, ask them. If you see they’re upset, help them to calm down so they can think more clearly – a few deep breaths usually helps. Ask them how they feel, and why they think they feel that way.

Next, ask them how big the problem is, and listen carefully to what they say. Help them to consider different options, and let them choose what they want to do next, and what – if anything – they’d like you to do.

Give it a bit of time, and remember to follow up by asking how things are going, and if their choices are helping.

Tips for a Less Stressful Home

– Healthy food is important, especially a good breakfast.

– Allowing plenty of time to get ready, especially in the morning. Hurrying, and the tension that goes with it , are a terrible way to start a child’s day.

– Consistent homework and bedtime routines are helpful. Structure and learning self-discipline build feelings of security and responsibility in kids.

Predictability, especially at bedtime, helps kids relax, and getting plenty of sleep is a very important stress-buster.

Finally – as an adult – learning to manage your own stress will help your children as much as it helps you. Not only will it help your household run more smoothly, it will make solving problems easier, and give your kids a great example of the behaviors you’d like to encourage in them.

So, the next time a glass of milk flies off the table onto the floor… or they can’t find both of their boots… or the tears arrive for no apparent reason… take a deep breath, and remember stress is really just excitement wearing a worry wig!

(That’s true, actually. Well, not the “worry wig” part – at least, not literally. But research has found the physical feelings we experience from stress and anxiety – butterflies in the stomach, tense muscles, faster breathing and heartbeat, thoughts racing – are exactly the same feelings we get from excitement and celebration. The difference depends entirely on how we frame them in our minds, as bad, or good. Put another way – and this can be helpful to share with kids – feeling “scared” is no different than feeling “excited”, it just depends on whether you think the outcome will be bad or good…. so think positive!)

Sources: Canadian Mental Health Association & The Psychology Foundation of Canada. Photo Credits:,,,,,,,



Why is it the Easter “Bunny” with Easter “Eggs” ?



Here comes Peter Cottontail,
Hopping down the bunny trail,
Hippity… hoppity… Peter’s on his way !

The Easter Bunny is a delightful, magical part of childhood, almost as wonderful as Santa Claus.

But the tradition of an Easter “bunny” – or more accurately, a hare – bringing colorful, decorated eggs to children on Easter Sunday originated hundreds of years ago in medieval Europe.

In fact, the Easter Hare was first described more than 300 years ago, in a manuscript called “About Easter Eggs” published in Germany in 1682.


400 WILD HAREBut How Did it Start ?

Rabbits have been associated with spring and fertility since the first humans saw their frisky mating-season antics and prolific breeding ability.

In fact, it was originally believed rabbits could reproduce without mating – no surprise, considering some pregnant female hares can actually get pregnant again before giving birth to their first litter.


The Goddess of Spring

In northeastern Europe, in the days before Christianity, the Teutonic tribes there would hold feasts at the time of the Spring Equinox to honor “Eostre”, their goddess of spring and fertility – who was often symbolized by a rabbit.

In the same way as the early Christian church “merged'” the pagan Winter Solstice gatherings with it’s celebration of Christmas, the tradition of a gathering and feast to honor Eostre was adopted by the church to eventually become what we know as Easter today.

But here’s a twist…

400 MADONNA WITH BUNNYThe myth that bunnies could have babies without mating – in other words, that rabbits and hares could give birth yet still be “virgins”- led the early Christian church to associate rabbits with the Virgin Mary. That’s why you can find bunnies in medieval religious paintings !

We Can’t Waste the Eggs !

400 HARD BOILED EGGFrom ancient times, eggs were magical – they produced new life.

The egg’s special status in pagan mythology led the early Orthodox Christian church to order the faithful to abstain from eating eggs during the fasting period of Lent, leading up to Easter, when Christ would be re-born and ascend to Heaven.

Mind you, the only way to keep those eggs from spoiling during Lent was to hard-boil or roast them.

And – on Easter Sunday morning, when the Lent fast ended, those eggs were a delicious treat. It was only natural that people began decorating those special eggs, as they waited for Easter to arrive.

400 EASTER EGGSEventually, the church relaxed its rules, allowing the faithful to eat eggs again during Lent. But the delightful tradition of decorating “Easter” eggs continued.

What Do the Colors Mean ?

Many Christians in the Eastern Orthodox church still dye their Easter eggs red, to symbolize the blood of Christ.

Green is popular as the color of spring, and yellow is associated with wealth and prosperity.

The Art of Ukrainian Egg Decorating

The art of decorating Easter eggs with beautiful, intricate designs is a cultural tradition identified with the people of Ukraine, but it’s popular among families all across northeastern Europe.

400 PAINTING UKRAINIAN EGG400 UKRAINIAN EGGSThere are almost a dozen variations on the “pysanka”, or Ukrainian Egg.

It’s typically done by painting the design onto the egg using beeswax, then dipping the egg in dye, which only colors the un-waxed surface.

With many hours of intricate work, repeating the wax & dye process over and over, the results are incredible.


Our Easter Bunny

The idea of a hare that brought colorful eggs to children at Easter was carried across the Atlantic to North America by Protestant German families who settled alongside the Dutch in Pennsylvania. They called the magical rabbit “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws” – the “Easter Hare”.400 VINTAGE EASTER CARD

Among the striking similarities to Santa Claus, only “good” children would find Easter eggs in the nests they made in their caps and bonnets the night before Easter.

Eventually, the Easter caps and bonnets were exchanged for decorated baskets, and the colorful hard-boiled eggs were replaced by candy, treats and other Easter gifts.

Easter Fun Facts

400 CHOCOLATE BUNNIES3 out of 4 people eat the ears on their chocolate Easter Bunny first.

The first chocolate eggs were made in Europe in the early 1800’s.

Chocolate eggs are still among the most popular treats associated with Easter.Lots of jellybeans

Easter has the 2nd highest candy sales in the year. (Halloween is in top spot.)

Red is the most popular color for jelly beans.

333 LITTLE GIRL WITH BUNNY EARSThe largest Easter egg ever made was over 10 meters high (34 feet) and weighed almost 8 tons, or 16,000 lbs.

More than 500,000 eggs were hidden in the biggest Easter egg hunt ever held, which took place in Florida in 2007.400 AUSTRIAN EASTER CUCKOO BIRD

And not everyone in the world celebrates Easter with a Bunny. In some parts of the world, it’s the Easter Fox, and in Austria and Switzerland, the Easter Cuckoo Bird delivers the eggs and candy on Easter morning!


Celtic Knots, Mandalas & The Fifth Element



The Celtic Trinity Knot, or Triquetra, is one of the most common Celtic knots. “Triquetra” is from Latin and means “three-cornered.” There are many schools of thought when interpreting the meaning and symbolism of the Celtic Trinity Knot. But all of the various interpretations agree on one thing: it symbolizes the sublime or  perfect interconnection of its three parts.

Early Christians understood the three elements represented the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A more pagan school of thought recognizes the trinity knot as embodying the three sacred, inherent feminine powers: Mother, Crone, and Maiden. In more modern metaphysical or mystical thinking, the three points or corners identify mind, body and spirit.

Triquetra triquetra

With its mystical symbolism, the Triquetra is a perfect mandala for meditation. It stills the chattering mind as it draws our focus into the center of the triquetra. As our sense of balance grows, it opens our connection to the spiritual elements and the source of that power.



The spiral is prevalent throughout Celtic ruins and remains, and the symbol is found in other ancient cultures around the world. A powerful sign, it represents spiritual awareness and expansion of thought. Meditating on the spiral mandala helps us appreciate that we are more than our physical bodies, and we exist in more realms than this earth. As we delve deeper into the spiral, we find our awareness is ever growing and expanding, and our energy grows with it.  We are reminded to open ourselves to allow our positive energy to flow out to others and the world, making the universe a better place for all to live and grow.

Celtic Knotsceltic-knot

The Celtic Knot beckons us to fall into it for a glimpse into the inner workings of our lives. As we allow our minds to explore the endless, hypnotic flow of these mandalas, we see how our decisions have affected our lives, and the lives of those around us.
Celtic knots also help us visualize how our lives are interconnected with our ancestors. Allow your imagination to explore freely and this mandala will bring new spiritual insights.


Celtic Symbol Meanings: Four Aspects



– 4 Elements: Fire, Earth, Air, Water

– 4 Directions: South, North, East, West

– 4 Seasons: Summer, Winter, Spring, Fall

– 4 Latin Gospels in the Book of Kells

– 4 Fire Festivals: Samhain, Beltane, Imbolc, Lughnasadh

– 4 Great Treasures of the Tuatha



But… What About the Fifth Element ?

Our spiritually intuitive Celtic ancestors grasped the concept of a more expansive essence unifying the common four elements. That’s where the fifth element makes its appearance.

The chart below explores the Celtic meanings and associations of the four elements, and how these are joined together by a fifth element. Together, all five create a balanced, unified power that can conceivably be tapped by the human mind.

Tapping into the balance of the five elements, who knows what level of awareness can be gained ? Druids hinted at an all-encompassing illumination when the five aspects of nature were perfectly balanced within human understanding.

Celtic meanings behind the five-fold concept could fill a book. The meanings and associations in our chart are found throughout Celtic legend, lore, poetry and history.


A Ferry Boat Set for A Prince !

We’re delighted to have been chosen by Prince Edward Island’s Lieutenant-Governor Frank Lewis and his wife Dorothy to make a Ferry Boat Set for His Royal Highness Prince George !

They’re sending a beautiful Island-made blanket to Princess Charlotte, born to Will & Kate on May 2nd. Our Ferry Boat Set is for her big brother, Prince George, who will turn two years old on July 22nd, so he won’t feel left out. Grandparents are smart, aren’t they ?

The Toy Factory - Ferry Boat Set for Prince George

Thank you Frank and Dorothy !