Why we LOVE wooden toys

The best toy I’ve ever bought the children? Without a doubt, the Grimm’s large rainbow. Wooden toys have a longevity that makes them particularly appealing to me, a mum of three children.

When my eight-year-old son was small, I fell into all of the parenting toy traps possible. Our house had turned into a plastic city, full of noisy, garish toys that he would lose interest in almost immediately. By the time Zoey was born six years later, there was nothing left from Harrison’s baby and toddler years to pass down.

That’s when I knew things had to change…

I resolutely refused to go down the same pathway with Zoey (now 2). I hated the waste and the short-lived play-ability, so I made it my mission to seek out good quality toys that lasted longer than a few moments. This is really where wooden toys come in: I think it speaks volumes that wooden toys have been around for centuries.

Thanks to the wonderful world of Instagram, I found out that good quality wooden toys still existed, particularly in fact, from German toy makers. It made my teacher heart really happy to know that traditional style toys were still loved by children in different parts of the world.

After only choosing quality toys for the last few years, I can thoroughly attest that wooden toys are worth it in every sense. Here are just a few reasons why you should consider them over their plastic counterparts:

Wooden toys are value for money:

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Wooden toys make excellent Christmas presents. They are also likely to be played with far longer than the latest ‘fad’ toy.

Okay, so on the surface, yes wooden toys look way more expensive. Initially I had my doubts over whether they would be worth the initial outlay. However, after starting off the wooden toy collection with building blocks and a medium Grimm’s rainbow two years ago, I can definitely confirm that they are worth every cent.

They aren’t toys that you buy everyday, but carefully considered purchases. Personally, and speaking from experience here, I’d much rather than have fewer, good quality toys in the play room over a stash of ‘trendy’ toys any day.

Young children cannot cope with a mass of toys surrounding them on a daily basis. They get overwhelmed by choice. This is part of the reason why we re-organised our play space and established the Discovery Table series.

Wooden toys are great for imaginative play:

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The blue and purple elements of the large Grimm’s rainbow made wonderful ocean waves.

When is a rainbow not a rainbow?

Well, when it is a bridge, bird, slide or even a musical instrument! Wooden toys have endless play-ability. The child is doing the thinking rather than the toy itself. Featured above is an ocean theme where a Grimm’s rainbow and miniature cave was used by the children.

Children aren’t stifled by the same barriers as us. Whereas you and I might just think, ‘ well that’s a gigantic rainbow,’ they will transform it into a whole range of other items. Besides, If you’re genuinely stuck for ideas, you only need look at Instagram. I am always in awe of the ideas I see there!

Wooden toys are gender neutral:

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Wooden toys are designed to be played with by everyone. Both my son and daughter love using them in their play.

‘Gender neutral’ has become a popular term in recent years. Take a trip down any of the major toy-store aisles and you will see why: the majority of toys on offer are specifically aimed at either boys and girls. With a boy, girl and another boy on the way, I’m constantly searching for toys that are gender neutral. This is a matter of practicality for us as well as a desire not to stereotype.

Whilst I am by no means a staunch feminist, now that I have a daughter I have a heightened awareness of toys that have been designed in a certain way. She does love the doll she picked out herself; but she’s also a huge fan of toy trains and trucks. Wooden blocks or rainbow people can belong to anyone.

In the photo above, we had spent an entire weekend building a zoo from cardboard and other scrap materials. Both children were really engaged with the process and as you can see, Grimm’s building blocks, houses and rainbow people complimented the activity perfectly. You can read more about that activity here.

Wooden toys are environmentally friendly:

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Magical Moments: A wooden rainbow village under the tree in our backyard

Watching those scenes of plastics pollution in Blue Planet 2 brought home the environmental issues in such a vivid way. We can`t eliminate all plastics from our life, but I’ve become more aware of the purchases we make and I’m on a mission to reduce, reuse and recycle wherever possible.

Recently the eldest (9) asked for the latest fad toy that: ‘all the children have in school.’ However, after he showed me a clip on YouTube, I could see the limitations. It was a single-purpose toy that would be discarded at the bottom of his cupboard within a week. Thankfully Harrison also understands this and knew that he only really wanted the toy because everyone else did! The recent Jurassic Plastic art installation at the 2018 Sydney Festival would’ve given anyone food for thought on this subject matter.

This brings us neatly back to wooden toys. Brands such as Grimm’s use natural dyes to colour their products. They are handmade with love and care. The visible quality of the toys also means that:

A. They are unlikely to be left broken at the bottom of the toy box.

B. You’ll want to keep them as an heirloom for your children to pass down to future generations.

Wooden toys don’t have an age limit:

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Harrison (9) and Zoey (2) playing side-by-side on our ‘city’ discovery table

Santa Clause very kindly gave Zoey a range of Grimm’s goodies on Christmas Day. The whole family spent the morning building structures with them. Surely toys that appeal to both a nine-year-old and a two-year-old have got to have a good thing going on? There aren’t in fact many toys that Harrison would willingly share with his sister, but wooden toys are an exception.

Each week I create a new discovery table designed to capture the interests of my eldest two. Tables that feature our wooden toy collection sustain the interest of both for far longer.

Have I persuaded you to try wooden toys?

Don’t hesitate to contact me here or via my social media pages if you have any questions about starting you own collection.

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I want to extend a huge thanks to Oskar’s Wooden Ark who provided some of the items featured in this article.

If you’re looking to purchase quality, handmade items, head on over to Oskar’s Wooden Ark where you’ll find a beautiful selection of Grimm’s, Ostheimer and Grapat toys.

Want more?

If you liked this post, please check out the following:

Discovery Table Week 8: Zoo!

Discovery Table Week 5: Rainbow

Discovery Table Week 6: Nature

Discovery Table Week 4: The Ocean Waves

Before you throw that away…

Nature Walk Activity Guide

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