Why Are We So Drawn to Kid’s Wooden Toys?
In a time when we as a culture are surrendering to the iPad, wooden toys can do several important things.
Philosophically, we can keep our children in close contact with the trees.
For most of us, wood is a symbol of timelessness, authenticity, and craftsmanship.
Most kid’s wooden toys are simple, classic staples that all childhoods should have.
The subtle and graceful aesthetic of natural toys strongly contrasts to bright, brittle plastics.
Plastic toys can imply rigid and cheap production, mass marketing on television, and a cookie cutter approach, which conflicts with our cultural values of creativity, independence and individuality.
Are Wooden Toys Any More “Educational” Than Plastic Ones?
Jean Piaget reminded us that children learn better when given a sense of control and mastery in their environments.
Wooden toys tend to be more minimalistic and open-ended. They invite a child to be involved in creating the story.
Plastic toys typically amuse, distract, and overstimulate. Buzz, spin, light up, and are often cartoonish.
The majority of plastic toys are rarely about real learning because there is no experimentation involved. One answer, one way.
Wooden toys for children offer a more rich sensory experience. The texture and heft of real wood is rewarding during play.
Are Wooden Toys For Children Always The Best Choice?
There are good and bad toys made from both types of material. Both can shine if made well and are designed with children’s true needs in mind. When you buy toys online, keep in mind that not all toys are created equally.
Plastic Legos, for instance, are much more functional than the Wooden Legos that are being marketed and packaged as “handmade and natural.” They don’t have the precision necessary to snap together like plastic. They warp and split in different humidity.
Some companies make a fortune selling wooden toys that are cheap and don’t last. There are poor wooden toys.
When two similar toys go head-to-head, and one is made of wood and the other is plastic, look for durability, safety, creative value, and aesthetics. Wood will usually win over plastic in all of those categories.
Plastic toys are easier to clean and disinfect, but they break down and shatter more easily. They are cheaper overall, but do not last.
How Is Using Wood/Trees Better For The Environment?
Quality kid’s wooden toys can be passed down for generations, or at least to several siblings, cousins or neighbors. They don’t find the landfills after a few brief months. Wooden toys eventually wear down and return to the earth.
Many manufacturers of wooden toys now are very connected to sustainable methods that reforest trees, use organic finishes, and work compassionately with the communities where they build. Their overall awareness and commitment has less impact on our environment.
Wooden toys do not require batteries and contain far fewer toxins than plastics. More often than not, the wooden finishes are organic and toxin free.