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Video: Top picks for toys made in the USA

TODAY
Wearables, top right, will bring out your kids' inner builder; the Spooner helps kids develop balance and coordination; Crayola makes around 3 billion crayons a year; Artterro's kits give kids natural materials to make their own works of art.
By
TODAY contributor
updated 7/6/2012 11:36:49 AM ET 2012-07-06T15:36:49

It's never too early to instill a sense of patriotism in your kids. In honor of TODAY's Made in America Week (July 2-6,) TODAY has been highlighting companies dedicated to making products in America each day. Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht shares stimulating playthings, that are made right here at home:

Kid Constructions once created structural corrugated displays, but has taken its expertise to the world of creative and activity play for children. Their Wearables line takes construction play to the next level, with role play: kids can make a plane, then step inside and wear it to become the pilot. The Wearables run between $25 and $30. It’s a clever approach to classic construction and craft play. The Wearables line is eco friendly, biodegradable, and recyclable. All Kid Constructions products are proudly designed, produced, and packed in the USA. (www.kidconstructions.com)

Crayola has inspired creativity in children for more than 100 years. After noticing a need for safe, high quality, affordable wax crayons, the first box of Crayola crayons rolled off the assembly line in 1903. Every Crayola crayon shows American pride — even if it isn’t red, white, or blue — because each one is made in Easton, Pa. by a dedicated workforce of 1,200. In addition to being American-made, Crayola’s crayons are also green. A solar farm in Forks Township, Pa. provides enough power to make 1 billion of the 3 billion crayons that Crayola produces each year. (Price runs $0.99 and $12.99; www.crayola.com)

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K’Nex toys may be available in more than 30 countries, but each one is produced in America. As a company that believes in behaving in a socially and environmentally responsible manner, K’Nex ensures that all of its toys are safe for children as well as the earth. Celebrating its 20 anniversary, this toy has made an impact on the way children channel their creativity, and the way manufactures make their products. The K’NEX classics 50 model building set is a 700 piece set that encourages kids to build just about anything and comes with a guide for 50 building ideas ($34.99; www.knex.com)

Little Tikes has been an American favorite since the 1960s. Each year, in the town of Hudson, Ohio, the company works to produce active and imaginative toys and play sets for its littlest fans. From the iconic American made Cozy Coupe to the more recent products like the TikeStix Clubhouse where kids can create great clubs and forts that they build, instead of using mom's chairs and sheets. And it's not just forts, little ones can build just about anything with these interlocking pieces. (Large set, $49.99; www.littletikes.com/made-in-the-usa-toys)

Artterro is all about creativity. Using natural materials like wool felt, recycled handmade paper, and cotton fabric, kids can create beautiful, eco-friendly works of art. As an added bonus, lines like the Bubble Wand Kit are made at Goodwill Industries in Milwaukee, Wis. by people with special needs. ($19.99; www.Artterro.com)

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It’z Purple entered the toy market a year ago when it noticed a need for a different kind of dollhouse. Last winter, the company introduced the American Dollhouses, a “collapsible” dollhouse that acts as home for 18” dolls. Originally, It’z Purple intended on outsourcing the production to China. However, after realizing the lack of American-made products on the market, the company decided to produce the item itself and American Dollhouses was born. Currently, It’z Purple offers three different dollhouse sizes, and all are made at the headquarters in Chicago, Ill. The price for 1 room is $75, two rooms are $90 and four rooms are $105.www.americandollhouses.com

Vermont Teddy Bears began in 1981, when John Sortino saw his son playing with his collection of teddy bears. Surprised to see that every one of the bears wore a tag identifying it as foreign-made, Sortino was inspired to bring this American tradition back to its roots. Soon, he began handcrafting bears in Vermont, and eventually formed the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. Since then, the factory has grown, and it even offers an unconditional lifetime guarantee, which means that if anything should ever happen to a bear, customers can send it to the Bear Hospital where is will be fixed at no charge. (Bears start at $49 and up; www.vermontteddybear.com)

The Spooner was invented by accident in San Diego, Calif. when Randy Putland was cleaning up the back of his surf shop. The first board was created when he was cutting up a plastic dog igloo to throw it away. The first cut out resembled a skateboard deck in the shape of a spoon and later became the template for the first mold and the start of the Spooner Board Toy Company. Every board is hand built in San Diego with the molds built by local carpenters. The plastic comes from Pennsylvania, the griptape from Alabama, and all the packaging from San Diego. When demand overtakes production capacity the company creates more molds and hires new local staff. Last Christmas when things got crazy they hired an entire baseball team and worked around the clock. (The Spooner board comes in two sizes, and the original costs $44.95; spoonerboards.com)

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Green Toys believes in making the world a better place, and it starts by making toys from environmentally friendly materials. The company, which manufactures its toys in California, puts a modern twist on classic children’s toys by using recycled plastic and other environmentally friendly materials. This helps reduce fossil fuel use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improving the overall health and happiness of the planet. Its Salad Set helps promote healthy eating and is made from recycled plastic milk containers. ($19.99; www.greentoys.com)

Poof-Slinky has been made in the USA since its inception in the 1940s, in the same town, Holidaysburg, Pa., where the first Slinky was made. The company manufacturers many other toys in their product line there as well, such as Sno-Toys and “Our America” game. The iconic Slinky comes in many sizes, colors and materials, including the original to a 14k gold plated collector’s piece. Prices range from $5 to $150. The company also has roots in Plymouth, Mo., where it manufactures POOF foam balls. (www.poof-slinky.com)

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The winner, chosen by TODAY style editor Bobbie Thomas, will be mentioned on-air and receive a basket of American-made goodies (worth $150). The entry deadline is Friday, July 6 at 5 p.m. EST. Read the official rules and start submitting!

Starting July 2, be sure to visit TODAY.com for information on American-made products in the following categories:

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Friday: Toys, Pets

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Photos: Celebrating Old Glory

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  1. Showing the flag

    From sea to shining sea, Americans have many different ways of showing they're true to the red, white and blue. Celebrate the Fourth with this star-spangled gallery of patriotic images.

    Swearing in
    New US citizens wave US flags after being sworn in during a naturalization ceremony at the National Archives June 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP-Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Intrepid soldiers

    Members of the military unfurl an American flag during a wreath laying ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on May 26, 2014 in New York. (Eric Thayer / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Banner bearer

    A fan holds an American flag in the infield prior to the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 17, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Patrick Smith / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Heroes remembered

    On Memorial Day tiny American flags are placed at each grave at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, honoring each soldier killed in action, in May 2014. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Rainy reflection

    An American flag is reflected in raindrops on Jan. 13, 2014, on a car windshield at Storage Rentals of America in Danville, Ky. (Clay Jackson / The Advocate-Messenger via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Send in the Marines

    U.S. Marines hold up the American flag before the game against the Arizona State Sun Devils and Texas Tech Red Raiders in the National University Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30, 2013, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Donald Miralle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Wrapped in the flag

    A young fan walks with an American flag wrapped around him before the start of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final between the United States and Panama at Soldier Field July 28, 2013, in Chicago. (Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Solemn farewell

    A U.S. Air Force casket team carries Colonel (retired) Ruth Lucas' flag-draped casket to the grave during her full military honors burial service at Arlington National Cemetery May 29, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia. Lucas, of Washington, D.C., was the first African American woman in the Air Force to be promoted to the rank of colonel. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. In memoriam

    A flower and an American flag are placed on the next to the names inscribed on the edge of the memorial pool during observances for the eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on lower Manhattan at the World Trade Center site on Sept. 11, 2012, in New York City. (Pool / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Booted up

    Delegate Don Genhart wears American flag cowboy boots during the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Face it

    A U.S. supporter had her face painted with the American flag prior to the USA-Japan women's football final at the London 2012 Olympic Games at Wembley stadium. (Luis Acosta / AFP-Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Riding the wave

    A boy waves an American flag from a car window while participating in the annual Memorial Day Parade on May 28, 2012, in Fairfield, Conn. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. On the beam

    Construction workers Danny Conca (left) and Brian Shelly hold an American flag attached to the last steel beam, signed by members of the crews that helped build the tower, as it is hoisted 977 feet to the top of Four World Trade Center on June 25, 2012 in New York City. The building is scheduled to open in 2013. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. This is a holdup

    Members of the US Navy's JROTC hold up a giant American flag during a Memorial Day parade along Constitution Avenue May 28, 2012 in Washington, D.C. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Remembering the fallen

    The grave of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Michael Harris is seen through an American flag as the the sun rises over Georgia National Cemetery Monday, May 28, 2012, in Canton, Ga. Harris died Feb 6, 2012 at the age of 22 while serving in Afghanistan. (David Goldman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Off to the races

    A giant American flag is held in the infield during the national anthem prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27, 2012 in Concord, N.C. (Streeter Lecka / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Fold Glory

    Civil Air Patrol cadets Devyn Williams, left, Grey Hodson, center, and Katie Zobel hold an American flag before demonstrating the proper way to fold it during a Memorial Day assembly held at Holly Grove Elem. School in Holly Springs, N.C. on May 25, 2012. (Chris Seward / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Common ground

    Two children walk through an installation of 33,000 American flags on display on the Boston Common in honor of Memorial Day and fallen soldiers, in Boston on May 25, 2012. (Cj Gunther / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Still standing

    An American flag stands among the debris from homes that were destroyed by a massive tornado on May 27, 2011 in Joplin, Mo. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Electric flag

    People are reflected in a puddle as they walk past a neon American flag in New York's Times Square in December 2011. (Justin Lane / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Gridiron Glory

    Members of the armed forces hold a giant American flag during the national anthem prior to the season opener between the San Diego Chargers and the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 11, 2011, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. (Donald Miralle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Stars and slopes

    Jason Utgaard, 26 from Salt Lake City, second from left, and friends celebrated the holiday on July 4, 2011, by skiing Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah, dressed from head to toe in red, white and blue. Snowbird was open for the Fourth of July for only the third time in history. (Lynn Debruin / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Oregon donor

    Gary Eichman takes a glimpse of first American flag sewn in Oregon at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Ore., on June 29, 2011. In 1861, Oregon pioneer Ann Elizabeth Bills was asked to sew an American flag to celebrate Independence Day. (Rick Bowmer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Freedom ring

    The American flag flaps in the breeze against the backdrop of a ring around the sun at the U.S. track and field championships in Eugene, Ore., on June 26, 2011. The rings are caused by cirrus clouds and moisture as high as 30,000 feet where the temperatures are well below freezing. The moisture turns into ice crystals, and the sunlight then reflects off these ice crystals creating a halo or ring. (Don Ryan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Nailed it

    An attendee wears nail polish painted to look like the American flag during the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference on June 17, 2011 in New Orleans. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Goooooooooal-ed Glory

    Fans cheer with a giant American flag prior to the start of the GoldCup game between the USA and Guadeloupe on June 14, 2011, at LiveStrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. (Jamie Squire / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Red, white and balloon

    The PNC American Flag balloon, the world's largest free-flying American flag, was inflated to honor America on Flag Day, June 14, 2011. The balloon was tethered to the ground at DeBaun Field, on the campus of Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J. (Joe Epstein / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. In memoriam

    American flags adorn grave markers at United States Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery in Washington on May 27, 2011, in preparation for Memorial Day. USSAH National Cemetery is the first national cemetery and the predecessor of Arlington National Cemetery. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. In deep

    An American flag reflects off the Mississippi River floodwaters in south Vicksburg, Miss., on May 20, 2011. (Rogelio V. Solis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Play ball!

    A large American flag is unfurled prior to the start of the New York Mets' home-opening baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field in New York, April 8, 2011. (Henny Ray Abrams / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Rally round the flag

    A huge American flag flies at the Tea Party Patriots "Continuing Revolution" rally on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 31, 2011. (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Long may she float

    Melissa Poirier grabs hold of an American flag-themed raft handed to her at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg, Fla., on July 4, 2010. (Shadd, Dirk / Zuma Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Fit to be tie

    John Robson wears an American flag bowtie while attending U.S Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson's Fourth of July Party in Ottawa on July 4, 2010. (Pawel Dwulit / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Rain on the parade

    An American flag is seen through raindrops on a windshield on July 4, 2010, in Salina, Kansas. Rain canceled or postponed many Fourth of July events in the area that day. (Tom Dorsey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Dedicated dolphin

    Liberty, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, dons a hat and carries an American flag in his mouth at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, Calif., on July 1, 2010. The dolphin was named Liberty because he was born on the Fourth of July in 1990. (Ben Margot / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Her eyes have seen Old Glory

    Roberta Allen, from San Jose, Calif., wears American flag contact lenses at a rally supporting troops in Berkeley, Calif., on Feb. 12, 2008. (Jeff Chiu / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Red lights and blue

    An man wearing a cowboy hat walks past an American flag light display at Rhema Bible Church in Broken Arrow, Okla., on Dec. 20, 2006. (Brandi Simons / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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