Why is it that the wooden toys bring a smile to a parent’s face? Is it the nostalgia that they invoke – memories of our own youth? Or is it the knowledge that with wooden toys they are getting something durable and endearing – real value for money that generations can enjoy?
This is Max, my favourite toy from my childhood – he used to have a lead and a springy tail and I trailed him around the garden. Both my children played with him as well. The non-wooden components have long since disappeared, but the rest is in amazing shape. He’s a 50 year old wooden toy and in better shape than me!
Wooden toys are incredibly durable which is important when they are being bashed about by small hands, left under bushes in the garden and poked with a variety of implements. Generally made with younger children in mind, they are chunky (easily gripped by little hands) yet smoothly tactile. My daughter had a stacking tractor, much like this one, and she would rub the pieces gently against her cheek when playing with them. She’s bigger now and plays with real tractors!
The bright colours and simple shapes of wooden toys really appeal to young children. We were given a wooden triangular activity centre when my son was really small. At first, he just moved things around with his little hands – not a clue what anything meant but loved the touch and movement. He would move the counting beads across and gradually began to count them. We still had it when he started school and he used it to show me his letters, how to count in twos, threes etc. We eventually passed it on to a friend when my daughter was six – it was 13 years old and still perfectly functional!
There is something truly wonderful about watching a child explore their imagination and wooden toys really facilitate this. Some things haven’t changed in the many years since my youth – you can still get siege towers for historical imaginative play, farmyards and garages, amazingly detailed dollhouses and cottages. I love the ‘retro’ dial telephones and cash registers with which children get completely engaged but would rarely see in ‘real life’. Wooden toys really have embraced the modern world though, with espresso machines and smoothie makers! And don’t get me started on the farmers’ market!
If you are looking for fun learning, there are many wooden toys for this. I love a shape sorter, there is so much learning to be had! Naming the shapes, asking questions about them (‘how many sides?’ is great for counting practice), sorting them by number of sides, colours, height, length – all great maths. Alongside the fine motor skill development comes increased problem solving – ‘if this doesn’t go into that space, where can I put it?’. Self-esteem rises when a problem is solved.
It goes without saying that wooden toys are kinder to the environment and to your children. As an organic, renewable and sustainable sourced product with few toxic chemicals used in the manufacture process, wood is a great choice all round.
by Allie White, educational consultant to BrightMinds
As a parent and former-teacher, Allie has a hands-on approach to home learning, believing that the best learning is done together in a relaxed environment. Coming from a make-do and mend background, she likes to create activities for her children that use things already in the home.
Our mission at BrightMinds is to foster “a brighter way to play” to inspire your child to be curious about the world around them & encourage creativity in a fun & relaxed way.
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