WHAT’S NEW HERE: Silicone connectors used to build forts and structures out of sticks are a modern twist on building blocks that entice kids to go outside and play.

Growing up in northern New Jersey, Christina Kazakia, 29, grew up exploring the woods behind her house with her best friend. “I remember climbing trees and being scared at times, and that it was always thrilling,” she says. When her graduate thesis advisor at the Rhode Island School of Design told her to pick something she’s passionate about, she immediately thought of play and nature. “Everyone’s so plugged in now, including me,” she says. “It’s hard to unplug and open your eyes.” The industrial designer wanted to create a product that encourages kids to see and appreciate nature’s beauty and utility.

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