In the world of toys, wooden toys for kids will never lose its charm. Just like how adults enjoy the tactile sensation of touching an expertly crafted piece of wooden art or furniture, it’s the same satisfaction children get when they play with wooden toys. Not only that, wooden toys have a unique naturalistic appeal, which makes it a staple in any home, learning centre or school.
In the past few years, one would notice the resurgence of wooden toys. For some time, the well-made plastic and high-tech toys were at the forefront. But now, wooden toys are making their presence known once again. There’s no better time to get to know these wooden toys and why parents should choose them over the other flamboyant and flashy toy options.
1. Wooden toys encourage skill development
Parents are always looking for toys that can teach their child a thing or two. Thankfully, wooden toys for children aren’t bound to just teaching your child one or two skills. Wooden toys are known for helping with reasoning, problem-solving, decision making, hand-eye coordination and critical thinking skills – all of which are essential to a child’s intellectual development.
Wooden toys do not come with specific instructions on how a child has to play with them. Instead, the child has to use his/her own reasoning skills. A good example is a tangram where a child has to manipulate the different shapes and sizes of the grams to build the initial shape successfully. The process of manipulating the grams is already building on the child’s reasoning skills and teaches the child about cause-and-effect. Playing with wooden blocks also help a child organize by shape, colour and size, which is also falls under his/her reasoning skills.
The wide array of wooden toys for infants and young kids all present the same thing – a challenge. To overcome that challenge, a child has to tap into his/her problem-solving skills and find a solution to the problem at hand. It can be as simple as playing with wooden puzzles wherein a child has to think about how the puzzle pieces will fit.
When it comes to math problems, a child can use wooden numbers to become more familiar with how the number looks. There are also wooden toys that give a more visual representation of mathematical equations, such as addition, subtraction and multiplication. Similar to learning the alphabet and reading, wooden letters are a great introduction to the world of letters and the visual representation aids in teaching a child how to read.
Wooden toys for kids are designed to be touched and handled. This means a child will work on his/her hand-eye coordination to be able to play the toys properly. Take, for example building blocks wherein the child has to stack them up to build a tower. The child has to make sure he/she stacks them carefully to keep the blocks balanced. Threading a string into wooden beads is another great example of how hand-eye coordination is improved. Wooden toys for infants also teach this skill already like when an infant tries to put a wooden puzzle back in the right hole provided.
Fine Motor Skills
The handling of wooden toys helps build and refine the fine motor skills in children. These toys are created and designed in different shapes and sizes and for a good reason – the chunkiness or awkwardness of the wooden toys forces the child to find different ways to get a better grasp or grip on the toys so he/she can manipulate them better. This is why starting with wooden toys for babies is very helpful in really building those fine motor skills in early life.
2. Simplicity inspires imagination
Have you tried giving your child a large empty cardboard box and see how he/she is going to play with it? You’ll be surprised at how this simple thing can fire up the imagination of a child. Sure, the games children play in smartphones and tablets are colourful and interactive, but those games don’t leave anything to the imagination anymore. Everything’s there, and the child just has to click buttons to play.
As the old adage goes, “less is more”, and it can’t be more accurate when it comes to wooden toys. The lack of features inspires the child to find a way to do something with it. And what does this mean for your child? He/she becomes more creative. At the same time, the child taps into his/her emotions when the child really puts his/her heart into the fantasy-play. This will then help the child become more verbal and emotional as well.
3. Wooden toys promote social interaction
As briefly mentioned earlier, when kids use their imaginations, it opens up the opportunity to be more social. Kids really find joy in playing fantasy-play with their peers, so this encourages them to talk and listen more. On the other hand, children who play digital games tend to feel more secure in solitary play, which is one of the causes of delayed speech and social development among toddlers today.
More social children do a lot better in social situations independently. They understand their surroundings better and adjust to different situations with ease. Apart from what’s already been said, wooden toys for kids are also great in fostering teamwork and sharing among children because these toys encourage group play.
4. Children concentrate better
There’s just something really calming about wood, which is why it’s mostly the preference when it comes to furniture. It’s a similar effect when it comes to playing with wooden toys. Children are not distracted by loud noises or flashing lights, but their focus is on the task at hand. This allows the child to expend less mental effort on things that do not matter so he/she can concentrate better.
5. These toys are cost-effective
How many toys have you bought your child and he/she ended up not playing with them after a day or two? Too many to count? Well, that’s not going to happen with wooden toys for toddlers because these will last your child years and years of fun playtime.
Since the toys are made of wood, you can be assured of their durability and sturdiness. You no longer have to worry if the toys are dropped or thrown around because wood can withstand quite a battering. They don’t malfunction over time, and they’ll never be outdated. Well-made wooden toys for babies are just as sturdy. Edges are smoothed out, and there is no risk of swallowing small parts because quality wooden toys don’t chip easily.
These wooden toys for kids don’t just give you peace of mind, but they’ll be easy on the wallet, too. You can consider them as investments! In fact, there are families who pass down heirloom wooden toys from one generation to another.
6. You’re helping the environment
For parents who want to teach their children about being friendly to the environment, one of the best ways to show that is through using eco-friendly wooden toys. Wood is a natural material. It doesn’t emit carbon into the air when manufactured. It’s crafted and moulded as is. Handcrafted wooden toys shows the special care and attention put into making these toys. Plus, they’re recyclable and biodegradable, too.
Apart from the material itself, working with wooden toys give a child a connection to the natural world. Amy Ogata, author of Designing The Creative book, described wood as a “poetic substance which does not sever the child from close contact with the tree, the table, the floor.” This connection can teach a child to be more empathetic about the environment at an early age.
7. Easy to store and clean
Who doesn’t like clutter-free and organized play areas? One of the great things about wooden toys is they’re easy to store because they don’t come in weird and unusual shapes. Their colours aren’t loud, making them an impressive room décor as well.
What about cleaning them? They’re a breeze to clean since wood has natural antibacterial properties, which means the bacteria and germs won’t cling to it. So, parents don’t have to resort to chemical cleaners and antibacterial treatments to clean these toys. Here are some tips on how to clean wooden toys:
Use mild dish soap or apple cider vinegar and dilute it with water.
Put the solution in a spray bottle and spray the solution onto the wooden toys.
Wipe the toys with a dry cloth and let the toys air dry.
Do not soak or immerse the toys in the water. Wood is very porous.
If you can dry them outdoors, the better. Just don’t leave them under strong sunlight as this can lead to cracking or fading colours.
Moisturising the toys occasionally can also improve their longevity. You can use beeswax polish or olive oil.
Wooden toys are classics and should be a staple in every child’s toy collection. It’s highly educational and will aid in physical, emotional, social and mental development in children. Wooden toys for kids are as authentic as they come. They’re timeless, and they’re here to stay. Their sophistication, simplicity and connection to nature are something children (even adults) need in this modern age.