This article originally appeared in USA Today on December 13, 2021 and was updated on December 15, 2021.
Luke's Toy Factory appears at #22 on this list.
Flip over any toy in your child’s toy chest and it will likely say, “Made in China” or some other far off place. If you’ve been wondering where all of the American-made toys are, you may end up being surprised. More toys are made domestically than you may think, which means you have loads of options to choose from if you want to shop “Made in America” this holiday.
If we are to be honest, we love all toys. But there is definitely a satisfaction that comes from knowing that we supported American businesses and the U.S. economy, all while reducing our carbon footprint by purchasing toys and gifts made domestically. Read on for some of our favorite American-made finds.
1. Green Toys
Even if you’re not familiar with Green Toys, you’ve definitely seen some of its colorful, durable, and earth-friendly toys. Made from recycled milk jugs, this California-based company makes everything from baby rattles to bath toys to garbage trucks. Its Sesame Street and Disney lines are a favorite amongst little kids, and it has some of the best stacking and shape-sorting toys around (and a favorite gift of ours for babies and toddlers). Our personal favorites, however, are its trucks. These toys are strong, sturdy, and last for years through constant dirt and sand play.
2. Lincoln Logs
STEAM learning is a modern-day buzz term but, we can assure you, kids have been getting plenty of STEAM learning long before it became a hot method for teaching math and engineering concepts—and they learned it through play.
A classic toy since 1916, these Maine-made building logs have been a favorite of kids for over four generations and are a must-have for creative kids and those who love to build.
Founded by the former mastermind behind both Step2 and Little Tikes, Simplay3 makes everything from wobble seats to race tracks to climbing towers. Its water tables are probably the most ingenious around, some coming with fun pump systems and others coming with engaging waterways that keep kids busy for hours. Where it really stands out is with its modular play structures. These affordable systems are strong and durable and they interconnect for play that can continue to grow with your child.
Step2 is the largest American manufacturer of preschool and toddler toys. Its water tables, play cottages, and swing sets are a constant at preschools, and for good reason. They are sturdy, they are durable, and they are built to last through vigorous and constant play. Our personal favorite, however, is the Rapid Ride Roller Coaster, which turns any living room into an amusement park. All of Step2’s products are made out of Northeastern Ohio, making this toy company an American classic.
5. Little Tikes
Based out of Hudson, Ohio, Little Tikes specializes in super sturdy toys and furniture pieces for kids. You’ve probably seen its push cars, ride-on wagons, or its famous Cozy Coupe cars all over your town. It also has durable picnic tables, sandboxes, clubhouses, and some of the best toy kitchen appliances around. Even though Little Tikes is over 40 years old, it just keeps racking up awards for toys that harness the imaginations of little ones and, best of all, most of its toys are American-made.
For the crafty and creative kid, Cra-Z-Art is best-known for its slime partnership with Nickelodeon, line of Disney arts and crafts, Kodak jigsaw puzzles and fun crafting toys that are filled with sparkle and bling and are the ultimate answer for what to get your tween. Based out of Randolph, New Jersey, Cra-Z-Art recently doubled down to increase its American production efforts tenfold by opening a second, 315,000 sq. ft. production facility in Jacksonville, Florida, as a direct response to international supply chain issues in the toy production industry.
7. Maple Landmark
Made in Vermont, Maple Landmark is committed to sustainability and superior craftsmanship. This company has been making eco-friendly educational wooden toys and games since 1979. We love that this company was started when a bored Vermont teenager’s mom gave him some tools to occupy himself. Now it sell everything from teething toys to high quality checkers and blocks sets, all made from components that are sourced as locally as possible and meet the highest safety standards.
American-made since 1945, Slinky toys have been a favorite of parents and physics teachers alike for over 75 years. The original fidget toy, Slinky toys are fun and fascinating and have calmed many a child with their hypnotic motion.
Slinky has come a long way since the sliver spring toy we grew up with. It now comes in a variety of shapes, materials, and colors. It's even partnered with Pixar to create a Slinky dog toy based on the character of Slink in Toy Story. While the new versions of Slinky are definitely fun and have loads of personality, the old standby never disappoints.
9. Klee Kids’ Cosmetics
Klee makes cosmetic starter sets you can feel good about. As its website says, all of its products are “lovingly made in the USA” with kids’ safety in mind. All of its kid-safe cosmetics are 100% non-toxic, and they are free of parabens, phthalates, and synthetic fragrances. Plus this company is very pro-sparkle and very anti-animal testing. It has everything from eyeshadows to shimmers to water-based nail polishes to yummy bath bubbles.
Handmade in Atlanta, Georgia, this company’s open-ended wooden wobble boards and climbing triangles are great choices for the Montessori-minded parent. These toys are made with the aim to help “children harness their endless imaginations and engage in active play.”
These award-winning toys are all made from sustainable wood sourced from U.S. forests and are responsibly—and lovingly—made by local artists.
11. Explorer Kits by Make-A-Fort
If your kid loves indoor forts, the Explorer Kits by Make-A-Fort will take their building skills up a couple dozen notches. These sectional fort builders are brilliantly designed in Andover, Kansas, allowing kids to make some of the sturdiest, strongest, and most imaginative and magical forts around. Tunnels, forts, castles—you name it—these cool kits are great for the imaginative dreamer or the seasoned builder. Made from reinforced cardboard, these are both strong and lightweight. We also love that kids can draw and color on them, extending their screen-free play!
K’nex toys are the ultimate building sets for budding engineers. These have sets are made for preschoolers, early elementary schoolers, master builders and everyone in between. We like that the builds result in gratifying feats of engineering, but aren’t so complex that kids refuse to take them apart to start a new, more ambitious project. They also come with really robust build manuals that get kids thinking in new and innovative ways.
13. Tinker Toys
There is a reason why Tinker Toys have been around for over 100 years—and why the iconic brand of toys sits in the National Toy Hall of fame. Owned by K’nex, Tinker Toys are manufactured out of the K’nex’s plant in Evanston, Illinois. This classic engineering toy gives limitless options for creative construction. The wooden set you may remember as a kid has come and gone but, unlike many toys that have been “upgraded” over the years, the change to plastic has actually improved this classic toy. There are now flexible bendable rods as well frames that click into place, allowing for even more creativity than the original kit you may have grown up with.
While not all of Crayola’s products are made in the U.S., its crayon production is 90% Pennsylvania-produced. Everyone knows and loves Crayola, but what we like about this company is they just keep innovating. Every year there's a new crayon concept, from shimmers to pearls to neons. Recently it expanded its crayon production to include its Colors of the World skin tone packs, which won them a Toy of the Year award.
Not so much a toy, but you’ll be surprised by how much kids love playing with this fun spin on soap. This Shark Tank-winning product rubs on kids’ hands like a gel marker, that they can draw with and mix colors. Then, all they have to do is add a little water and lather up. If your kid is the type to have questionable hand-washing practices, this will save the day. Plus, it makes for a fun—and useful—stocking stuffer.
16. Land of Dough
You’re going to want to steal this dough from your kids. Made by the same company that’s famous for Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, Land of Dough is not only a super-soft play compound that smells and feels like a dream, the company claims to have created “the most eco-friendly dough on the planet,” by using plant-based colors, ethically sourced ingredients, and compostable glitter. Small-batch-produced, this dough starts out in the prettiest of patterns that then meld and knead into vibrant colors, making for a super-satisfying, multi-sensory play experience.
17. BubbleTree Bubbles
If your kid loves bubbles, they are going to swoon over Bubble Tree’s completely California-made bubble solution. We did an in-depth review of these sustainably made bubbles and we are complete converts. Not only are they American-made, they are—truly—the best, strongest bubbles we’ve tried, making for an excellent stocking stuffer.
As its website says, Popclox is “a tiny business trying to do big things in a world of mass produced imported goods.” Based out of Massachusetts, this tiny pendulum clock business has been around for a decade, making bright and whimsical clocks in quirky designs that kids adore.
If you’re looking for a big impact toy that they’ll play with for years, check out these cool building systems by WunderNook. WunderNook is a kid-sized, modular play furniture set that is easily adaptable by kids and encourages endless creative play. The thoughtful, minimalist design of this set allows it to transform into anything your child can dream up, from play kitchen to puppet theater to farmer’s stand. Once kids outgrow their WunderNook, it transitions easily into bedroom or playroom furniture, extending its use for years to come.
20. Uncle Goose Blocks
Back in 1983, William Bultman was shocked to find there were no American-made wooden blocks. So he got right to work, hand-manufacturing classic wood alphabet Uncle Goose Blocks in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Since then, this company has created dozens of different blocks styles, themes and “cubeling” toys, all of heirloom quality. From holiday- to space- to fantasy-themes as well as foreign language-focused blocks, these wooden toys are gorgeous and will likely be considered a keepsake that kids save to pass on.
Part puzzle, part origami, 100% recyclable and made with a give back promise Cubles are a perfect stocking stuffer toy that’s both simple and fun. The concept is simple: Paperboard pop out shapes fit together, without the need for glue or scissors, to make three-dimensional toys. These come in fun shapes, like unicorns, dragons, and dinosaurs as well as characters from popular book series like Dog Man and Little House on the Prairie.
22. Luke’s Toy Factory
Both eco-friendly and American-made, these fun toys are puzzle and truck combos that kids love to play with, take apart, and figure out how to piece back together. These education-minded trucks are made in Connecticut using sustainable manufacturing practices that utilize 30% less plastic than other toys, replacing that plastic with organic material, such as sawdust, walnut shells, flax fibers and coconut shells.