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10 great gifts for the eco child

It's a tough job to keep the kids happy and save the planet, but the following should do the trick.

Helena Pozniak
Saturday 01 December 2007 01:00 GMT

Root viewer

An excellent way for children to join the "grow your own" brigade without the upkeep of an allotment. Inspire young gardeners to care for the plants growing before their eyes you can use this kit again and again. Plant an onion, carrot and radish from seed in each of the glass tubes the pack comes complete with wooden stand, compost, seeds and a journal to note down observations. The clever design allows the developing plants to be seen right from sprouting to full harvest, making it an educational kit for all ages. You may even persuade them to eat the fruits of their labours.


Woodland Trust Nature Detectives Club

This new kids' club from the conservation charity comes with a generous welcome pack five activity sheets to get children started, a year's supply of stickers and a wall chart. On top of that, children are sent a challenge every week by e-mail anything from making a model, finding berries or doing a quiz, and members map their progress on the wall chart. As the year progresses, children receive more activity sheets, a magazine, poster and stickers an effective way of keeping children engaged through the year. The whole aim of this is to get children outside looking at nature.


Fabio children's paint box

These award-winning, beautiful watercolours are made entirely from natural plant extracts blossoms, fruits, leaves and roots including red cabbage, peppers, beet and saffron and yet provide brilliant colours. They are the result of several years of research and development work involving scientists and art historians, says online retailer The Green Shop. Twelve paints come in an attractive metal tin, complete with wooden brush the set won product of the year at the International Trade Fair for Natural Food and Natural Products.


Butterfly box

Bug boxes have been around for a few years, but this hand-made butterfly habitat is a des res butterflies will use it for roosting and chrysalis transformation and you may even find a Tortoise Shell or Comma butterfly hibernating. Put it in a mature tree and a Silver Winged Fritillary may lay her eggs in it you'll probably get some uninvited but welcome guests like ladybirds and moths. It comes with inspection panel and sun terrace essential, as butterflies warm themselves before taking off. UK-based Wildlife World makes this and other homes for bats and hedgehogs from reclaimed or Forest Stewardship Council-certified timber.


Pirate skittles

This motley crew, beautifully carved and painted, put a fair trade spin on a good old fashioned toy with a long shelf life. These skittles also come as knights or jungle animals, all to the same level of craftsmanship and complete with three bright wooden balls. Families who make these by hand in Sri Lanka receive a fair price and are expected to maintain good working conditions and the supplier has been approved by the British Association of Fair Trade Shops. This supplier, Knot Toys, offers a range of wooden toys, from dolls houses, Noah's Arks and bead toys to fairy train sets, castle playscenes and skipping ropes.


Fair trade rag dolls

An extensive and endearing gallery of finely sewn rag dolls, all washable and made from natural fabrics. "My daughters spend hours playing with them," says one mum. Dresses and tops are removable you can extend their play value with an extra set of clothes. From ballerinas and bridal dolls to boy dolls, there are more than a dozen designs available, produced in Sri Lanka under fair trade conditions. Dollymania's sister website, kiddymania ( takes things a step further, with fancy dress and formal clothes for children.

From 9.95;

Solar starter set

A construction toy and science lesson in one. This metal crafted set is great for teaching basic building skills and encouraging creativity, for eight-year-olds and upwards. Build a helicopter or biplane and add a solar-powered propeller a great gadget to demonstrate the power of the sun's energy though best to warn children these models won't actually fly. A great way to get your child interested in the world of engineering from a young age. After all, it is engineers who we'll have to turn to build the technology to solve the climate problems of the future.


Visit an organic farm

Give your child the gift of spending a day on a Soil Association organic farm, so they can find out all about where their food comes from and learn about a farming system that works in harmony with nature. While they go on an organised farm trail, you will have a chance to look around the farm shop and purchase some fresh organic food produce and other lovely items to enjoy with your family and friends over Christmas. With over 100 organic farms to choose from across the UK, there is likely to be one near you.

Visit and click on "Visit an organic farm"

Tyre horse swing

Make it a day at the races every day. This perennial favourite is deservedly popular for its toughness and green credentials. Made in Britain from recycled aviation tyres and rope, it's a swing that can bear adults as well as children hang it from a tree or a play frame. Suitable for three-year-olds and over, it provides a lovely way to entice the children outside the moment spring arrives. It comes with fitting instructions and is CE approved, and if horses aren't your child's thing, its also comes in bull, reindeer and elephant models.


Adopt a polar bear

This threatened species is a timely addition to the WWF's adoption range. Spare a thought for the polar bear whose Arctic wonderland is melting away. A recent US report predicted the loss of about two thirds of the world's polar bear population by 2050. WWF works to help conserve polar bears with community based work and the creation of protected areas. Each adoption bag contains a soft toy, screensavers to download, Green tips booklet and a picture of the adopted animal. Your recipient will receive newsletters throughout the year by post or e-mail.


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