Does the perfect toy exist? If so, wooden toys are perhaps the closest. Maria Montessori favored toys made from natural materials such as wood, which were healthy, safe and stimulating for children. Beautiful and durable; some of the first toys discovered were made of wood.
A simple, well-made wooden toy or game can capture a child's interest without overwhelming them, and inspire their imagination without directing it. A more natural development can then take place.
Parents, here are 10 reasons to choose this type of toy:
- Helps children to concentrate
- More uses for fewer toys
- A creativeéative game and a cause to effect relationship
- They are cheaper
- An introduction to the world réel
- They inspire
- Introduces to maths and to physics
- They last
- Adaptable as the child grows
- They are beautiful
(Photo Credit: Canva / Colorful wooden toys)
THEY HELP CHILDREN TO CONCENTRATE
Research suggests that play and learning environments with natural elements like wood help children concentrate, focus, and even calm down more than other types of spaces. Specifically, touching wood physically calms children, meaning that playing with wooden toys can have a neurological impact on the child's brain.
(Photo Credit: Canva / Natural Wood Animals)
A 2017 study by the National Institutes of Health found that “contact with wood induces physiological relaxation."In an age of overstimulation and constant input, toys that promote a calmer and more sustained play environment can be enormously beneficial for young children (but also bé bé) and their cognitive development.
MORE USES = LESS TOYS
Less is usually more when it comes to early toysfor babies and young children, who may be overwhelmed with too many games to choose from . The minimalist spaces of homes and classrooms Montessori and Waldorf show this philosophy in action; they tend to feature a smaller selection of versatile and open-ended wooden toys.
A 2018 study gave a group of toddlers two different play environments, one with 16 toys and one with just 4, and found that "as measured by sustained play and variety of ways of play, toddlers had greater quality of play in the four-toy condition compared to the sixteen-toy condition.“So parents don't pile up educational games but choose the right ones.
(Photo Credit: Canva / Natural wood construction game)
Children naturally form closer bonds with toys - and go further in their play - when there are fewer choices. The open-ended nature of this type of toy allows children to create their own ways of playing and spend more time with a single toy, for example construction sets.
THEY PROMOTE CREATIVEEACTIVE PLAY AND TEACH THE RELATIONSHIP OF CAUSE TO EFFECT
The toy market is saturated with flashing lights, bright colors, screens and loud noises. These characteristics provide immediate gratification for young children, but they also tend to remove opportunities for problem solving and imaginative play.
Because these toys tend to be simpler, they also promote cognitive milestones in a way that flashy toys don't. Around 9 months, for example, babies begin to understand more clearly the cause and effect relationship: hitting a block on the ground produces a noise, dropping one makes it disappear. A wooden toy, such as a set of blocks or a simple puzzle, distills this concept down to its essence: "When I do something, something else happens Consequently.“This éstep is vital in the éawareness of bébé and his intellectual development.
(Photo Credit: Canva / Comprehension of balancebalance)
Wooden toys also provide a wonderful, tactile, open "blank canvas" that children can explore at their own pace and on their own terms. The extra bells and whistles that can make other toys instantly more appealing tend to restrict and direct how children play with them. The new generation must also face the problems of screens, as parents it is our duty to direct them towards the best options for them and their future youth: simple and effective wooden games!
THE WOODEN TOY IS CHEAPER
Yes, you read that correctly. While the initial cost is higher than that of a plastic toy, the lifespan of a wooden toy is significantly longer than that of a plastic toy. Instead of having to buy the same plastic toy again because it breaks easily or constantly buying new batteries, a wooden toy can last for decades! This means you can pass down toys and reuse them, saving you money in the long run. Additionally, toys without batteries or electrical components are much easier and cheaper to maintain. While the short term cost is more important, the long term cost will save you a big chunk out of your pocket, so parents make the right choice!
THEY ARE A GENTLE INTRODUCTION TO THE REAL WORLD
Toys are, in many ways, an introduction to how the physical world works: they are among the first objects that children touch, put in their mouths and play with. Simple games that teach lessons in physics, cause and effect, permanence of things, creativity, problem solving and many other fundamental topics.
(Photo Credit: Canva / Décover the world with wooden game)
Yes, a determined baby or young child can make noise with anything, but wooden toys are generally quieter, promoting a quieter play environment, free from noise ( not to mention the lights and movements) of many plastic toys.
Wooden games and educational égames are perfect for creating new worlds from scratch. Blocks and other toys can be transformed into anything the child wants, and can follow the child's development from simple symbolic play to complex imaginative play. Montessori practitioners (and many other educators and caregivers) argue that simple, natural materials often lead to more meaningful and lasting engagement.
(Photo Credit: Canva / An imaginary world)
Whether children are building a city, racing a wooden car, or making a train track that stretches from room to room, they can use their budding imagination to build, invent, tinker, pretend and create. At this occasion many versions of imitation games are now available such as the children's dinette, the wooden kitchen, the to tool box, the wooden garage or bowling again!
THEY INTRODUCE CHILDREN TO MATHEMATICS AND PHYSICS
The ultimate STEM toy, wooden blocks require dexterity, hand-eye coordination and great fine motor precision to stack and balance the pieces. They also promote the acquisition of skills important for knowledge of mathematics, such as matching and shape recognition.
Since there are no magnets or connecting systems to hold the blocks together, children must focus on coordinating their hands and eyes to build and balance the different blocks.
Children learn the first lessons in physics when a tower collapses after the sixth block has been placed on top, or when a ball rolls down a ramp.
It is not for nothing that these toys are the ones that are most often given, passed down or inherited. They're not indestructible, but they are durable - as long as you take care of them. A wooden game can therefore be found in a family from generation to generation!
(Photo Credit: Canva /Intergenerational sharing)
The Montessori method encourages young children to explore toys and play objects in their own way; For babies and young children, this may involve putting them in their mouth, throwing them, and rolling them. Safety is therefore an important element to take into account when choosing toys: which ones will last and remain safe as they age? Wood is one of the safest materials that nature offers to babies and children.
ADAPTABLE AS CHILDREN GROW
Everyone knows that children tire of toys almost as quickly as they do of school uniforms. Parents must therefore always be prepared for the possibility of moving up a gear when it comes to toys.
As wooden toys can be discolored, repainted and varnished without losing the quality or structure of the material, they can then be adapted to the child's age and interests .
(Photo Credit: Canva / Budding photographer with wooden camera)
Has he suddenly become obsessed with unicorns? It's easy to adapt a child's rocking horse to create their own unicorn, with just a wooden horn and a lick of rainbow paint. Instead of buying a whole new toy, you can adapt and reimagine the toys they already have.
The same goes for classic wooden building blocks. Colorful blocks will help very young children begin to develop their imagination and creativity, but as they get older, you can repaint the blocks to look like red bricks or concrete blocks, so so your child can create their own real-life city in their bedroom.
THEY ARE SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL!
Aesthetics may or may not be at the top of the list of toy selection criteria, but beauty is important, especially when it comes to choosing toys that will last.
(Photo Credit: Canva / Traditional wooden toy)
Whether painted, stained, or left natural, toys, furniture, and other wooden objects tend to be visually appealing. The Montessori philosophy places great importance on physical beauty: clean lines, attractive (but not too bright) colors, and precise order promote a calm learning environment.They are a natural fit in these spaces, as they are often stackable, easy to clean, and attractive to display.
ARE WOODEN TOYS NEW?
There is undeniably something wonderful about thinking about our children playing with the same traditional wooden toys that we used as children. wooden building blocks and stacking toys, little wooden cars and beautiful dolls' houses. Some of these toys may have been purchased new, others may have been stored in the attic, but the feeling is the same.
(Photo Credit: Canva / Antique wooden horse)
If you look into the history of this type of toy, you will discover that they have existed since Greek and Roman times. And what's even better is that they played with toys similar to those that children love today. Little dolls, horses and chariots.
An image of an ancient Greek wooden horse with wheels found in a tomb dating from 950 to 900 BC.-VS. is remarkably similar to the pull toys we can find today in 2022!
Among the oldest toys ever discovered are rattles dating back more than 3,000 years ago. It's funny to think that, despite all our technological advancements, rattles remain one of the most popular early childhood toys.
(Photo Credit: Canva / Wooden rattle, early millennium)
Maybe it's because, although we've discovered so much and learned so much over the last 3,000 years, fundamentally, at a basic level, we haven't really changed. The way we learn as children, the way our brains develop and the way we play remain the same. An excellent reason to prefer wooden games to screens and plastic.
In the 1700s, German toy makers began making toys for sale to the public, which became increasingly more elaborate and complex over the years. Think wooden dollhouses, miniature theaters, and brightly painted box jacks.
In the 19th century, factory-made toys were widely available, including wooden trains, toy soldiers, rocking horses, puzzles, dolls' houses, and Noah's arks. Apparently, some children were not allowed to have any toys on Sunday other than Noah's ark as it appears in the Bible.
(Photo Credit: Canva / Small refined wooden train)
It was only after the war that the popularity of wooden toys began to decline, with cheap plastics allowing toys to be mass produced at much lower costs. Fortunately, wooden toys are making a comeback. Not only because of greater awareness of the environmental impact of plastic, but also because simple, open-ended toys teach children things that electronic toys do not. plastic can't do.
If you have a collection of wooden toys, it will one day be passed down to other children and hopefully future generations. Board games are also increasingly made of wood, to find out more read our new article: Why play board games?
Another great thing about wooden items and games is that they can be used at all ages!
From 0 to 3 years, for baby's awakening with the discovery of shapes and colors but also of touch.
(Photo Credit: Canva / Little boy discovering shapes)
From 3 to 8 years old, for creative and reflective activities such as children's puzzles and different construction games.
(Photo Credit: Canva / Wooden puzzle games)
From 8 years to 99 years, for board and memory games to share with family and to pass on to future generations!
(Photo Credit: Canva / Wooden family board games)
To conclude, wooden toys are more durable, more environmentally friendly and healthier for children physically and developmentally.They're also not ridiculously expensive, so it's a product we can all afford. This is not to say that all plastic toys are bad. Plastic toys may still have their place in the toy box, but it's a good idea to evaluate the durability and educational value of toys before purchasing them.
We hope we were able to clearly and simply highlight the benefits of wooden toys. Plastic toys are obviously not to be banned but we think it is important to have the right balance. With this in mind L'Enfant Malin offers you a wide variety of educational games for your children.
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