Why We Love Our Wooden Toys
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We have had little ones spanning over 20 years and at the very start of our journey, I realise we tended to follow trends or found ourselves influenced by the things our friends were buying for their children.
When we had our first, Lamaze featured heavily in our home, which focusses on tactile play through soft toys in bright colours.
With our second it was Fisher Price Little People Figures, very colourful and bright with an enormous range of items from birth onwards.
When we had our third, the Little Einstein toys and Baby Mozart CD’s were a huge hit at the time, using soothing music for sleep and quiet play, as well as music appreciation through toys.
By the time we reached four, five and six, we were pretty much done with collecting a plethora of stuff and went right back to basics, focussing on the timeless items that our grandparents and their grandparents spent hours playing with.
Wooden toys have indeed been trendy for decades, if not centuries and whilst there are a lot of cool, new educational products out there, there is also wisdom in sticking with the tried and trusted lines. Even if companies re-image the organisation, colour or design of their wooden products, they still have the same classic feel as well as educational benefits that children have been enjoying for generations.
Five Reasons why we love our wooden toys:
Children can be pretty heavy-handed with their toys. The mass-produced plastic lines just don’t stand the test of time or the remarkable strength of a toddler’s throw!
We wanted our children’s wooden toys to last and be passed down through the generations. Given their solid craftsmanship, it is hard for them to be damaged beyond the usual scratches or dents.
They are easy to clean and provide years and years of play in various different forms, from infants onwards.
We once purchased an old and very simple, wooden wine crate, that had been been given some love by an elderly gentleman, who lived in our neighbourhood. He painted it a lovely sage green and placed four sturdy wheels on the bottom, fastened a piece of thick rope through two holes in the front, and presto it was transformed into a perfect wagon for our kids. That wooden box received so much use and love over the years. When the twin’s were little, they adored being pushed all around the house in their vroom car, their squeals of delight still a wonderful memory for us all. It has been a doll’s bed, a lego storage box, a mobile library, a container for potted plants and now it is perfect for keeping the kids art supplies all in one place. All from one simple renovated wine cart that an old man had sitting in his shed for years and years.
I just love toys with a story and a bit of history, which is why wooden ones have been such favourites of ours over the years.
We use wooden toys for learning-through-play. Our investment has been in education as well as fun. We therefore wanted to purchase items that were versatile enough to grow with our children. Our toddlers and pre-schoolers have engaged in simple imaginative play and basic manipulation with wooden toys, and the older children began to incorporate wooden toys in more complex scenarios, which can be worked into discussions concerning geometry and physics for example. They are excellent problem solving tools and a wonderful base for learning and so brilliantly versatile, as they connect with a broad range of ages and ability levels.
If you have been reading my blogs for a while, you will know that I am a huge fan of imaginative play. When our twins were in Year One (for a brief time in a public school), their teacher instructed them to “put on their school minds and leave their imagination at the school gate”. Pretty soon after that conversation, we decided to home-school the girls and throughout the next 18 months, I used every opportunity to encourage them to use their imaginations.
Thankfully, they hadn’t been at school long enough for their wonderful, magical minds to be hindered in any way.
We would make up stories together whilst out walking in the country and picking flowers became a wonderful game of looking for fairies underneath small blooms or leaves. We left the pixies and elves little notes, made out of pressed flowers and went on adventures to try and find them food, whilst dreaming about the types of places they would choose to live in.
I honestly don’t believe there is a greater gift that you can give your children, than the ability to expand their mind through imaginative play.
Albert Einstein explains it this way
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
In this vein, we have found that wooden toys have given our children the ability to improvise. Whilst some wooden toys come in the shape of vehicles, food or common household items, they still encourage children to use their imagination to incorporate them into learning and play. Other wooden educational toys come in basic shapes, such as sticks, blocks, arcs, triangles and circles. These allow children to really explore their uses and come up with creative ways to incorporate them in different subject areas.
For example, we experiment in physics through building different structures with the wooden toys that balance and work together like a machine. And geometry through manipulating certain shapes to create their own geometric patterns.
Wooden toys are designed to be safe and won’t break easily, as mentioned above. There are no sharp edges or small pieces that can snap and they are generally non-toxic and made from natural materials, which means children can chew or suck on them safely. And you don’t have to worry about polluting your home with plastic chemicals or any choking hazards. For me, personally, this was a huge comfort, as safety in the home with toys was always a concern to me as a mother, particularly choking. I felt much calmer knowing that the items my children were playing with were sturdy and certainly not able to be swallowed.
-5 Wooden toys are not very noisy.
Again, any of you who know me well, would appreciate I have a very low noise threshold!! In fact, I am so adverse to loud noises, I can’t even cope with having the television volume up high. My children’s reading skills have developed quite quickly through exposure to the subtitles across the screen. Always a silver-lining to our quirky anxieties hey!
For me, there isn’t anything more beautiful than a quiet home. Kids happily playing their own games without the distraction of noise, which is the beauty again, of wooden toys. Children cannot accidentally leave a wooden toy running and parents don’t have to be exposed to incessant beeps and sirens as their kids play. It is a much nicer environment to be in, listening to the gentle sounds of my children’s voices and laughter, as they interact with their wooden toys – quietly.
And let’s not forget the simple beauty of wooden pencils!! As an adult, I still experience the same thrill, as I did a child, at the thought of brand new pencils. There can’t be anything more satisfying than holding a bunch of these timeless beauties – the woody smell, the mixture of rainbow colours and the perfectly sharp tips of un-used pencils, always, always makes my heart happy. Which is why I am a total sucker for buying my kids a new set of these treasures whenever I have an excuse. My said excuse being whenever we take a plane trip – nothing like a fresh notepad and colouring pencils to keep the kids happy for ages. Not to mention, the same on Christmas morning, however that’s a slightly selfish move on my part to delay being woken too early. Those luscious colourful sticks do me a big favour and keep the little one’s early morning wake-up, at bay for an hour or so.
This is just a few reasons why we love wooden toys so much. I could write pages and pages about their benefits. I certainly appreciate that whilst wooden toys may cost more than a lot of the mass-produced items, they come with such incredible value. Rather than purchasing something with a set purpose and limited use, wooden toys have the potential to last for years. These timeless treasures, will be the ones your children return to again and again. I am sure, like us, they are also the ones that remain in your children’s rooms and on their shelves for many, many years.
In the spirit of sharing the wooden toy loves, I have selected 20 of our top-picks from Amazon that will definitely start you on your wooden toy journey. We already have quite a few of these items which is testament to the longevity of these investments.
Our choices range from newborn right up to 10 year olds. Believe me, it was very difficult to stop at just 20!
I hope this gives you a little insight into the wonderful world of wood for your little loves.
Next time you feel tempted to buy the latest gadget or trending item, stop and think of the other alternatives. They become more charming with age, love and use.
So much more than a toy and definitely a step towards a precious heirloom.
Our 20 Top Wooden Toy Picks from Amazon.
1. Wooden Camera
2. Wooden Winter Vegetables
3. Wooden Abacus by Melissa and Doug
4. 6 Wooden Play Eggs in Carton by Decent Gadget
5. 24 piece wooden blocks train
6. Wooden Teether Necklace Octagonal Beads
7. 10 Piece Wooden Tool Box By Viga
8. Tangram Jigsaw Tetris Puzzle
9. Deluxe pounding bench wooden toy
10. Peter Rabbit Skittles by Orange Tree Toys
11. Grimm’s Spiel und Holz Design Wooden Rainbow
12. Wooden push along lion by Orange Tree Toys
13. Noah’s Shape sorter Ark By Le Toy Van
14. Wooden Kitchen Accessory Set-Pots and Pans
15. Grimm’s Spiel und Holz Design 12 Wooden Rainbow Peg Dolls
16. Wooden Brain Teaser Puzzle
17. Noble Kitchen by Viga Toys
18. Wooden Forest Stacker by Le Toy Van
19. Wooden Baby Teething Silicone Beads
20. Grimm’s Spiel und Holz Design Conical Tower