Funded! This project was successfully funded on August 19, 2012.

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Wallet cards designed for kids. Gorgeous, educational, nontoxic cards that not even my twin two-year old boys can destroy.

Kids love to play with cards – credit cards, gift cards and flash cards – but most of those plastic cards are made of toxic PVC, and paper cards disintegrate in small children's mouths. So I've designed a gorgeous set of extremely durable, non-toxic cards for very small children to play with. I describe these cards as indestructible.

There are 26 cards in the deck with cool, modern illustrations representing each letter of the alphabet. Great for strollers and busy toddler hands!
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New buzz and press!
Check out Pioneer Woman's Homeschooling Blog, by OMSH, Heather L Sanders http://thepioneerwoman.com/homeschooling/2012/08/childrens-abc-wallet-card-project-at-kickstarter/

How We Montessori, by Kylie D'Alton
http://www.howwemontessori.com/how-we-montessori/2012/08/childrens-abc-wallet-cards-.html

At Home with Montessori, Meghan Hicks
http://montessorihomes.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/new-kid-on-block.html

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My boys doing some matching work after a quick hunt for objects around our home (using the prototype cards):

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About the cards

Gorgeous and educational.
The first three cards (currently using placeholder illustrations from Australian illustrator Marc Martin) display simple, colorful images of an accordion, a bike and a cat with clear black type set in Futura.

Once funded, Marc has signed on to illustrate 26 original pieces for the deck. His work can be seen in Wired, Capital and Monocle Magazine, more at http://jackywinter.com/the-jacky-winter-group/marc-martin

Non-toxic and durable.
These cards are extremely well-made with quality materials. Each card (and the graphics printed on them) can withstand child-induced breaking, scratching, bites, rips and tearing. No other cards on the market can hold up like these. Trust me, I've looked for two years to find something my kids love to play with AND can withstand their incessant gnawing!

The cards will be made from an FDA-approved, food-grade, non-toxic plastic. They are BPA free and recyclable. The ink we've specified is a non-toxic food-safe ink that is used in the medical field on items like I.D. bracelets and medicine vials.

Smart! + the set grows with your kids.
The cards will have a hole punched in the corner and will come with a sturdy carabiner-style ring to stay together, but as the child grows, the cards could be taken off the ring to be carried around in their little sticky palms, placed into their tiny pockets or rearranged into words with Mom and Dad's help. All cards fit back on the ring for clean up and storage.
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Advance praise for the cards

"Combining alphabet cards with credit card size is a brilliant idea and safe to boot." – Janette
"I want them now!" – Ashley
"Thank you for creating something like this." – Greg

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About me, my boys, and how I got the idea
Hi, I'm a former graphic and interaction designer, now stay-at-home Mom of twin two year-old boys. Silas on left, Owen orbiting in space on the right.

My boys put anything and everything into their mouths, toys, books, dirt, rocks, cats, you name it. Before I give something to my boys to play with, I first make sure that it's not going to poison them, then I test it to see if they can destroy it.

They REALLY love opening up my wallet and pulling out my license, my debit card and receipts and chewing on and playing with everything inside. I always discourage them because, obviously, I need my cards to stay in my wallet and not have teeth marks on them.

While at my friend's house (when the boys were about 8 months old), I noticed that her 12 month old son was rooting through her wallet and pulling out her debit card too. I mentioned the fact that my boys do the same thing and she replied, "Oh yeah, he loves cards. He carries them everywhere. I keep one in my wallet just for him." My boys saw his card, grabbed it and fought over it, forcing me to pull out an inactive credit card and an old membership card to satiate the three boys. Seeing another child with his own card opened the flood-gates and their love affair with cards had begun.

I went home and looked in our junk drawer at home and pulled out a stack of spent gift cards. Most of the cards were made out of mystery plastics but the boys were so excited to have their own cards that I just gave in and let them play with them. Eleven+ months later, they haven't put them down yet.

My boys have about a dozen cards in play at any time of the day. Even this evening, before writing this, the boys each played (for at least an hour) with their cards before going to bed, pretending to buy things (my husband taught them how to slide the cards through a credit card machine made of legos), carrying them around, putting them in their wallets, pockets and pouches, counting them and of course, chewing on them.

Here's a video of the Owen using his card to get money out of an ATM machine I made out of a cardboard box. Sorry it's shaky, Silas, age two, shot the video himself https://vimeo.com/44908244

My boys love the idea that they have something that's similar to what Mom and Dad use everyday, just like our coveted mobile phones and car keys. Children's mobile phones and play keys are easy to find at any toy store, but not cards.

The boys and I occasionally get new gift-cards from Starbucks, Target, Toys 'R Us, and Qdoba Mexican Grill (where we get take-out frequently).

I'd love to give my kids something safer and healthier to play with. Even though it's been more than a year that they've been using their collection of cards, I still cringe when they put them in their mouths.

Also, right now these cards say things like "Thank You!", or “Congratulations” or have pictures of corporate dogs, logos, wedding dresses, and Mexican food on them...BUT WHAT IF they were gorgeous illustrations representing letters of the alphabet?

Then maybe farm animals, baby sign language, numbers, colors, dinosaurs, baby faces, trucks, dogs, fruits and vegetables... there are a lot of possibilities.

So I thought, I'll invent some cards myself! I immediately wrote a beautiful letter, designed mockups and submitted my new cool idea to three big publishing companies. 8 months later, I haven't heard a single peep. Discouraged.

Enter Kickstarter!
Wallet cards for kids – gorgeous, educational, non-toxic plastic wallet cards that not even my twin two-year old boys can destroy.

I refined my ideas, spent days doing leg work on materials and content and decided to float it out here to the fine backers of Kickstarter.

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The Prototype
I created a prototype for the boys to play with using 26 plain white food-safe plastic sample cards from our Illinois-based plastics company. I punched holes in each one and placed them on a simple metal key ring (I don't have the plastic ring samples yet, so I just used my key ring). I used a Sharpie to write the letters on each one. The boys have been fighting over the cards... Owen calls them his "E-F-G" cards.

Here's a shot of Owen wearing them on his belt loop with his own metal carabiner clip:

The food-safe plastic we've chosen is really durable. The boys have been helping us test them, I've been chronicling the tests here. http://walletcards.tumblr.com/

So, how am I going to do it?
As a former graphic designer (seven years professional experience), I've worked extensively with printers, packaging design companies, illustrators and illustrator reps, paper companies, fulfillment houses and photographers. I know how to get this project done right.

I'm producing 1000 decks to start with the money raised here on Kickstarter.

  • First, I'm going to get my husband to take care of the kids more so I can focus on this project! Then, since I'm a former graphic designer, I am going to put my skills to good use and design the deck myself! Design cost = $0

  • I'll work with Marc Martin, our illustrator from Melbourne, Australia represented by Jacky Winter Group to create 26 unique, simple and colorful images (I've worked with more than a hundred artists at my old job here in Grand Rapids, MI).

  • I've contacted several non-toxic and food-safe plastics companies both in the US and internationally and have received samples and quotes. So far 100% of conventional gift and credit cards printed in the US (that I've found) are printed on toxic plastics. Our plastics are safe.

  • I've got quotes from Michigan printers that can print on plastics with food-grade nontoxic ink and food-grade non-toxic coatings. I'll oversee every step of printing and finishing (coating, cutting, trimming and punching).

  • I've selected a durable, non-toxic plastic carabiner-style ring that children can easily open and close themselves, ouch-free.

  • Extensive testing will be done in my living room (by my two year old twins) and with our weekly playgroup of children ranging from birth to age 10.

  • And to assemble it all for the rewards, I'll probably end up inviting some friends over help at our dinner table for the out-of-pocket cost of beer and a few pizzas.

Where will the money go?
I'm not going to pay myself if we meet our goal and even if we have a surplus of funds, my plan is to put it right back into the project. Here's where your backing funds will go:

  • 26 pieces of beautiful, original artwork by Marc Martin

  • FDA approved, food-grade, non-toxic plastics and inks for printing

  • The carabiner-style ring

  • Amazon's fees

  • Kickstarter's fees

  • Postage for rewards

Once out of Kickstarter, my plan is to produce more decks and sell them online and to toy stores. I'm a stay-at-home mom, (my husband works full time) and eventually I would love to contribute to our household income once again (because the boys start school soon).

The artwork
Marc Martin is an illustrator based in Melbourne, Australia. Working with watercolour, textas, ink, pencil, scanned textures and computer, Marc’s work is a world of dense colour, rich textures and the odd scribble. He draws inspiration from his surroundings, nature, animals, and the city he lives in.


Marc’s illustrations have featured in various magazines, including Monocle, Wired, The Financial Review, and Capital magazine. He is also the author and illustrator of three books, Silent Observer (Erm Books, 2011), A Forest (Penguin Books, 2012), and the soon to be release The Curious Explorers Guide to Exotic Animals A-Z (Penguin Books, 2013).

His work can be found at http://jackywinter.com/the-jacky-winter-group/marc-martin and www.marcmartin.com.au

Marc adds:
"When I was first asked if I'd be interested in getting involved in this project, it was an instant yes from me. Learning the alphabet and the value of reading is one of the most important steps a child will take towards understanding the world we live in. I'm really looking forward to illustrating the entire alphabet - it's a great way to draw some fun and quirky objects that also have an educational outcome."

Thanks Marc! I'm really excited to work with Marc on this project. He's really quite talented and I think his colorful, simple illustration style is perfect.

The back of the cards  {{ UPDATED }}


The card back design has been updated since the launch of the project, it will now display each main letter (lowercase) with small illustrated objects (also starting with that letter) surrounding it (placeholder images shown). The back of my boys' current cards seem to be as popular as the front in my observation. They really like the little icons, logos and tiny words on the back as much as the large colorful graphics and words on the front.

The retail box / pouch / wallet... a work in progress
I mocked-up the retail box front and a rough idea on what the back might look like too. However the cost to print this box at such low numbers is really ridiculously high that it doesn't make sense at this time. So... I'm not printing it. It will not be offered in rewards here on Kickstarter.

I'd love for the package to have a life past the retail environment so I'm working on another design that will include a custom pouch or wallet and a simple paper wrap. Children would immediately be able to take out and play with the cards, putting them on the ring, and in and out of the pouch or wallet as they please. The pouch or wallet would act as carrying case for the cards.

My twins both have wallets that I've found at second-hand stores, pouches and Tyvek envelopes that they keep their cards in. A wallet or a pouch has always seemed like a no-brainer given the name of these cards as well.

Minimal and functional packaging would be ideal. It's a work in progress, so please stay tuned. Perhaps we can offer it as a stretch reward? :-)

The competition
There really isn't one. Currently, the closest competition small set of products, mainly, cardboard stroller cards (I bought the Eric Carle set for $12 and my twins ate them in a day!) and whatever mixture of toxic and nontoxic gift cards a family can scrap together from their local stores and restaurants.

Content wise, the only things close are decks of paper or cardboard flash cards (which, again my kids love, but destroy in seconds).

This idea is so simple and as far as I can find (and trust me, I've looked for an entire year) no one has done this before.

This is where you come in!
I'm really excited about making something not only for my kids, but for your kids too. I can't wait to get this deck into my twin's hands and watch their little faces light up and I know your kids will have the same reaction too. :-)

To produce the first 1000 decks I need your help here on Kickstarter. Even $1 helps get this project going, so show your love for creative projects. I've got some pretty sweet rewards starting at $5 too so check them out!

People who know kids, know this sort of thing will be a huge hit. Help me get this project off the ground.

Thank you!

Like us on Facebook here through Kickstarter or visit our Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/ChildrensWalletCards

Check out our Tumblr page http://walletcards.tumblr.com/ too!

FAQ

  • The cards are made from a durable, non-toxic, food-grade plastic invented and manufactured in Illinois from a company called Transilwrap. They are the same thickness as a standard credit card, but slightly more flexible.

    I'm hoping that the expensive, special food-grade plastic that I selected doesn't make backers shy away. Good materials make for good products.

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  • Originally I mocked up the cards (shown in the video and the top graphic) in Helvetica. Unfortunately, the educational community likes the traditional letter-shape of "a" shown in Futura instead. I don't disagree so, the cards will be in Futura instead.

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  • At the $32 level, you get a cool handmade wallet! I designed a wallet for just a few of the cards from the deck to hold. I'm working with an Etsy crafter that makes wallets and children's toys to make a limited amount of the wallets just for a certain level of backers here on Kickstarter. I had originally hoped that all the decks would come with a wallet, but we wanted to deck to be under $20 in the rewards section.

    If all goes well, they should have tiered pockets, a loop to hold onto and a cool patch on them too. I design everything with my boys in mind... :-)

    Last updated:
  • Well, they weren't designed to be flash cards–they were inspired by my boys' love for playing with the cards in my wallet– but I guess they could be used as flash cards too. The design is still a little iterative due to influential people's reactions to the content and format (mainly my Mom who has a Masters Degree in Education from Harvard!). I will post updates shortly with the improved design. :-)

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  • Nope. Sorry, not yet! Partially because we haven't finalized it and also Marc and we haven't agreed yet as to what illustrates well. We WILL tell you that A, E, I, O, and U will be short vowel sounds due to the education community's outpouring of feedback!

    The cards shown in the video and the main graphic will change to either an Ant or an Alligator, instead of an Accordion. Other vowels will be updated too:
    A Ant or an Alligator
    E Elephant or an Envelope
    I Igloo or In
    O Octopus or an Owl
    U Umbrella or Underground

    We are also avoiding soft "G" sounds too for the main "G" image. No "Giraffe. Yes something like "Goat" or "Glasses".

    Have a suggestion? Comment!

    Last updated:
  • A, E, I, O, and U will all be short vowel sounds due to the education community's outpouring of feedback. The A, E, I, O and U main illustrations have all been updated to objects with short vowel sounds since the release of our video and initial mock-ups. No soft “G” sounds either.

    A Ant or Alligator
    E Elephant or Envelope
    I Igloo or In
    O Octopus or Owl
    U Umbrella or Underground

    Last updated:
  • The backs of the cards have also been updated to feature a large display of the lowercase letter with small illustrations of other matching objects surrounding it.

    Last updated:
  • Before the campaign here on Kickstarter is over, you may add as many decks as you like to your existing reward pledge for just $15 each. Just add $15 to your pledge amount by clicking on the blue "Manage my pledge" button on the top of the page. Questions? Click "Ask a Question" below.

    Last updated:
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    12 backers

    Desktop download of original artwork by Marc Martin (in a variety of resolutions) + your name on the backer list of our website + an email expressing my gratitude.

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    4 backers

    Get the letter card "A" from the deck. Shipped. + Desktop download of original artwork by Marc Martin (in a variety of resolutions) + your name on the backer list of our website + an email expressing my gratitude. (International backers, please add $4 for shipping)

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    5 backers Limited (15 left of 20)

    JUST the poster. 11 x 17 inch unframed gloss poster of the entire illustrated alphabet (on heavy-weight paper) Shipped. + Desktop download of original artwork by Marc Martin (in a variety of resolutions) + your name on the backer list of our website + an email expressing my gratitude. (International backers, please add $10 for shipping).

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    193 backers Limited (307 left of 500)

    Get the entire deck of alphabet cards with ring. Shipped. + Desktop download of original artwork by Marc Martin (in a variety of resolutions) + your name on the backer list of our website + an email expressing my gratitude. (Sorry, no retail box offered at this time). (International backers, please add $10 for shipping)

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    Get the entire deck of alphabet cards with ring. Shipped. + Cool custom wallet for your toddler to carry his/her favorite cards in + Desktop download of original artwork by Marc Martin (in a variety of resolutions) + your name on the backer list of our website + an email expressing my gratitude. (Sorry, no retail box offered at this time). (International backers, please add $10 for shipping)

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    39 backers Limited (11 left of 50)

    POSTER: 11 x 17 inch unframed gloss poster of the entire illustrated alphabet (on heavy-weight paper) + Get the entire deck of alphabet cards with ring. Shipped. + Desktop download of original artwork by Marc Martin (in a variety of resolutions) + your name on the backer list of our website + an email expressing my gratitude. (Sorry, no retail box offered at this time). (International backers, please add $10 for shipping)

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    GET ONE & GIVE ONE. You get the full deck. Shipped. + A deck is donated to a nonprofit organization working with small children, TBD. [Please let us know if you have a preference where you'd like to be donated]. + you get a desktop download of original artwork by Marc Martin (in a variety of resolutions) + your name on the backer list of our website in the G.O.G.O. column + an email expressing my gratitude + an email with photos of the organization receiving the donated deck! (Sorry, no retail box offered at this time). (International backers, please add $10 for shipping)

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    2 backers

    For retailers with patience: You know your customers and they are searching for a durable, modern and safe stroller-card set for their babies and toddlers. Your contribution at this level will assure you to be the first to offer this product in your store. (Value based on minimum wholesale order less S&H). Thanks for believing in Children's ABC Wallet Cards!

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    8 backers Limited (18 left of 26)

    A4 LIMITED EDITION Giclee print of Marc Martin's original artwork from the deck. Hand-signed and numbered by Marc Martin. Only one of each letter printed! First-come-first-served letter preference. Shipped + Get the entire deck of alphabet cards with ring. Shipped. + Cool custom wallet for your toddler to carry his/her favorite cards in + Desktop download of original artwork by Marc Martin (in a variety of resolutions) + your name on the backer list of our website + an email expressing my gratitude. (Sorry, no retail box offered at this time) (International backers, please add $20 for shipping)

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    2 backers Limited (8 left of 10)

    DECK, WALLET, POSTER, PRINT, and DONATION reward: A deck is donated to a nonprofit organization working with small children +11 x 17 inch unframed gloss poster of the entire illustrated alphabet (on heavy-weight paper), + A4 LIMITED EDITION Giclee print of Marc Martin's original artwork from the deck. Hand-signed and numbered by Marc Martin. Only one of each letter printed! First-come-first-served letter preference. Shipped + Get the entire deck of alphabet cards with ring. Shipped. + Cool custom wallet for your toddler to carry his/her favorite cards in + Desktop download of original artwork by Marc Martin (in a variety of resolutions) + your name on the backer list of our website + an email expressing my gratitude. (Sorry, no retail box offered at this time) (International backers, please add $20 for shipping)

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    ONLY 1 AVAILABLE: SPONSOR A CARD reward: "L is for License" featuring your child's likeness illustrated by Marc Martin on every printed deck of cards! + A4 LIMITED EDITION Giclee print of the letter "L", Hand-signed and numbered by Marc Martin + Get the entire deck of alphabet cards with ring. Shipped. + Desktop download of original artwork by Marc Martin (in a variety of resolutions) + your name on the backer list of our website + an email expressing my gratitude. (Sorry, no retail box offered at this time). (International backers, please add $20 for shipping).

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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    ONLY 1 AVAILABLE: SPONSOR A CARD reward: "X is for X-ray" featuring you or your child's {skeletal} likeness illustrated by Marc Martin on every printed deck of cards! Very cool! + A4 LIMITED EDITION Giclee print of the letter "X", Hand-signed and numbered by Marc Martin + Get the entire deck of alphabet cards with ring. Shipped. + Desktop download of original artwork by Marc Martin (in a variety of resolutions) + your name on the backer list of our website + an email expressing my gratitude. (Sorry, no retail box offered at this time). (International backers, please add $20 for shipping).

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    ONLY 1 AVAILABLE: SPONSOR A CARD reward: "F is for Face" featuring your child's likeness illustrated by Marc Martin on every printed deck of cards! + A4 LIMITED EDITION Giclee print of the letter "F", Hand-signed and numbered by Marc Martin +Get the entire deck of alphabet cards with ring. Shipped. + Desktop download of original artwork by Marc Martin (in a variety of resolutions) + your name on the backer list of our website + an email expressing my gratitude. (Sorry, no retail box offered at this time). (International backers, please add $20 for shipping).

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    ONLY 1 AVAILABLE: SPONSOR A CARD reward: "P is for Playground" featuring your family's likeness playing together on a playground! Cool! Illustrated by Marc Martin on every printed deck of cards! + A4 LIMITED EDITION Giclee print of the letter "P", Hand-signed and numbered by Marc Martin +Get the entire deck of alphabet cards with ring. Shipped. + Desktop download of original artwork by Marc Martin (in a variety of resolutions) + your name on the backer list of our website + an email expressing my gratitude. (Sorry, no retail box offered at this time). (International backers, please add $20 for shipping).

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    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    "Our new best friend in the whole wide world!" reward! Live in the Grand Rapids, MI area? Come over for a great dinner, some dessert and great conversation! The boys will draw you a thank you card and my husband will personally illustrate a comic strip starring you and your family! + Get the entire deck of alphabet cards with ring. Shipped. + 11 x 17 inch unframed gloss poster of the entire illustrated alphabet (on heavy-weight paper) + Desktop download of original artwork by Marc Martin (in a variety of resolutions) + your name listed as "Our new best friend in the whole wide world!" :-) on the backer list of our website + an email expressing my gratitude. (Sorry, no retail box offered at this time).

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Funding period

- (30 days)