We’re the first to admit that these days kids toys, styles, and gear are downright cool and certainly way cooler than when we were kids. While we receive hundreds of pitches daily about these new products, every so often we stumble across a cool new thing that we just have to share with our readers. Most of these products are so unique, engaging and fun that we can’t imagine as parents keeping this information to ourselves. So with the new year almost upon us, it’s time to look back at 2012 at the coolest things we found. And, if you have a tip about a really cool thing, shoot our editor an email to erin (at) redtri.com with the details.

1. A kindergarten in an airplane? Sure, this isn’t something you can take home, it’s most definitely worth a look. Warning: you’ll be envious of these tots in Georgia (the country, not the state) once you take a peek at their sweet classroom. 

2. If you’re tired of your living room constantly torn apart after your kids create their fort, you’ll want to check out these cool modular playhouses. This modern twist on the classic play structure features “cubas” that can be rearranged into creative and original structures.

3. Little literary ones who chew on books more than read them will love Wee Gallery’s soft organic books. Each 100% organic handmade book boast six black and white jungle animals printed on the inside and hand stitched kantha embroidery on the outside.

4. How many times have you marveled at how your kids can be entertained by one simple box for hours on end? Take their love of simple toys and couple it with some cool stickers and you’ve got Box Play for Kids’ stickers. Their modern, eco-friendly stickers wrap around everyday household items. Genius.

5. Make story time even more special with a personalized book that is customized just for your kids. Simply visit Paper Hat Press and enter a few tidbits of information like your child’s hair color, birthday, favorite food, and more. The end result is a cool personalized book just for him. 

6. For your kids three and older who are always building and creating, turn them onto Woody Wonderland, a great way to incite building and creativity. Woody Wonderland includes 25 pieces, both wooden and plastic, in all different shapes, sizes, and colors to inspire new and exciting creations constructed by your little ones.

7. We love supporting independent retailers who have great ideas, which is why we love this handmade rocking sheep. Created wood workers, craftsman, and new dad, Max in his very own home workshop in L.A., this handmade rocking sheep will delight your kids.

8.  Now, this is seriously cool. Say hello to Kinetic Creatures, a do-it-yourself kit unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Each product comes with 25 pieces of cardboard, which you and your kids can assemble (no tools or glue required!) to create an elephant, a rhino, or a giraffe.

If you had to pick the coolest thing you’ve seen all year, what would it be? 

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Cool Things from 2011