Channeling Jackson Pollock

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It's 20 degrees outside and there's no chance of hitting the playground with your rowdy tots. What's a crazed parent to do? Alex Toys has got your back. I found two amazing ways to keep toddlers busy and using their imaginations on cold winter days.

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First, my three-year-old tester was delighted with "My Tabletop Easel." This art station is ideal for small spaces and containing the messes of little people. Prop it up on the kitchen table or other work surface and let your miniature Monet get to work. One side is a white board the reverse side is chalk board. A roll of white paper unfurls for painting or coloring. When you're done creating the easel folds up for neat and tidy storage. Like most of Alex Toys, the wooden construction is excellent and no detail has gone unplanned. The non-spill paint cups saved me the hassle of having to hose down the kitchen post testing. Check out Fun Baby Toys for this and other Alex art supplies. Best for ages two and up. $44

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If your child is more of a Jane Austen than a Georgia O'Keeffe, I'd suggest the Crown Tabletop Puppet Theatre. The colorful wooden theater is about 2' wide and 2 1/2' high--perfect for an impromptu performance for the family or friends. Craft your own puppets or use Alex's felt creations to bring to life the stories in your child's head. We were off to the land of make believe in no time at all. It took me fewer than 5 minutes to take this out of the box and set it up. My daughter loved the curtains--it gave the theater an authentic feel. And we told tales of royal mayhem to keep us busy until dinnertime. For the theater and an assortment of Alex puppets (puppets are sold separately) check out Amazon. Best for ages two and up. $24.99

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