Sunday, October 5, 2008

Start Planning Your Wooden Christmas Toy Shopping!

Well, Christmas is already streaming through the horizons, and parents are beginning to wonder what toys to get for their little ones.

Picking a toy for a child is never an easy feat, especially when you are trying to combine what is good for them (wooden toys, educational toys) and what they actually want because their friends have it. Of course it’s much easier with younger kids. They are still not as much friends-oriented, and therefore tend to like toys within a theme of their own choosing.

So, let’s say you have a boy who’s in love with cars and trains. You are in luck! Wooden cars and train toys are a staple of the natural toy industry! For example, you could find Automoblox toy cars in any nice specialty toy shop, and they look just like the real thing:

Gorgeous eh?

While Hero toys (a great German company, why are Germans so ahead of us in all things natural?) make fantastic wooden railroad systems for the future train-conductor in your family.

Just be prepared to give up the usage of your floor for the next millennia. Once these rail roads start spreading, there is no walking without stepping on something… (Unless, of course you buy a special designated table… Hmm… That’s a thought…)

And just check out this locomotive:

The same kind of logic applies to any conventional toy. Pretty much all of them can be replaced with higher quality toys made out of wood.

It’s a sign of changing times that even big box stores are beginning to carry quality wooden toys. Here all stores carry wonderful products by “Melissa and Doug”. They make quality wooden puzzles that for some reason really appeal to babies and toddlers. I don’t know why, but my kids are very adamant about learning about shapes through the big-knobed puzzle I got them on a whim. (No other system has done it for us).

Seriously, I know it looks basic. But when we are talking about one year olds handling these knobs it is a lot easier (and more intuitive) for them than trying to do the same with the tiny cardboard puzzles available elsewhere.

And if you want to take the whole puzzling thing to the next level, Melissa and Doug also have great wooden puzzles for the bigger kids, such as these chunky ones:

Or something like this, if you want to go really fancy:

And the beauty of these wood puzzles is that they can be dropped, chewed, thrown and walked on, and yet they’ll still survive…

So, in a nutshell, Christmas is coming sooner than you think – start planning your toy shopping!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Wooden toys nourish the soul

Wooden toys are experiencing a definite resurgence on the market. Not so long ago they were pushed aside into the antique departments of our psyche. But now more and more parents are realizing the benefits of wood and choose these toys for their kids.

There is just something about a well crafted wooden toy that gives us a cozy-warm feeling. If you really think about it, wood has a great power over humans. Our associations with it run back into our very own roots. By using wood we learned to keep fire and thus survive the cold. Our first tools were made out of wood, and what are toys but tools for learning? And many scientists believe that we came down from the trees in the first place…

Think about it, do you feel more comfortable in a room full of plastic or concrete, or in a room with wooden floors and furniture? Do you feel calmer in the concrete jungles of our cities or the forestry greens in the country?

Nature has not lost it’s power over us. Giving children wooden toys nourishes their souls. It stimulates their growth on many more levels than we can see with a casual observation.

People of many cultures have attached magical properties to wood. For example, birch tree is thought to have cleansing and purifying energy, oak is healing and protecting, maple is for spiritual healing… For wood is a living material. It has pure energies of nature in it, and when enhanced with human creativity, especially when handcrafted by a dedicated master, they transfer those energies to people. And to our kids.

I believe that the subtle comforting energy of wooden blocks are much more beneficial to children then the factory stamped plastic contraptions. Not to mention the recently surfacing information about all the toxins in the main-stream toys. There are many quality manufacturers out there making wonderful toxin-free wooden toys. They range from pure fun to educational toys. Push toys, pull wooden toys, wooden kitchens and supplies. Toys for any stage of a child’s development. Fewer toys made from high quality material can be much more beneficial to your child than a myriad of plastic imitation.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Selecta Wooden Toys

Another great brand of wooden toys is the German Selecta.

Selecta Spielzeug AG (full name of the manufacturer) was established in 1968. The name of the brand, “Selecta”, translates as “the chosen” from Latin. Selecta’s head office is located in Edling, in Bavaria. The brand’s focus is on education, safety and fun.

Selecta toys use natural wood of maple and pine trees in the Bavarian Forest. Water soluble varnishes and beeswax finish are applied to the toy surfaces, to give them a smooth touch. These toys are frequently on the award winning lists and are universally known for their quality.

Their categories include Grasping Toys, Cars & Pull-along Toys, Push-along Toys, Dolls &Dolls Houses, and various Educational games.

Here are just some examples:

No wonder these toys are award winning.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Plan Toys Wood Toys

A brand of wood toys I’ve recently discovered, is Plan Toys. The first product of this company to arrive in my house was this “Punch and Drop” toy.

My son is absolutely delighted with the hammer, and apart from hammering the balls into the box, he’s been testing his hammering abilities on my walls, drawers and knees.

Upon studying the catalogue of Plan Toys, I’ve realized that they have a very impressive selection of wood toys for kids, starting from the age of first tentative gripping and staring, all the way into preschool and beyond.

Plan Toys market themselves as a Green Company focused on educational wooden toys. They use green materials, such as water based color, recyclable packaging, soy ink, non-Formaldehyde glue, and preservative-free rubberwood. So you can feel good about getting their products for your kids.

Plan Toys are a brand manufactured by Plan Creations Co. Ltd. This manufacturer is based in Bangkok, Thailand, and has been in business since 1981. Its main market is North America

The toys themselves have a very neat and accurate appearance. The focus is both fun and education. Lacing, counting, shape recognition, manual dexterity, and real world imitation are among the skills that can be developed via these toys.

In short, these wood toys are every parent’s dream.

Here are some examples that I found particularly appealing:

Tie-Up Shoe:

This is for the older toddler. A beautiful wooden shoe, to make sure it lasts through all those trial-and-errors.

Fun Stacker:

I think all kids go through a stacking frenzy. At least mine do. This is a great alternative to the usual pyramid.

And it can also be stacked thus:

And thus:

And I’m sure your kid will think of gazillion other ways.

So go ahead, give it a try.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Wood Toys -- The Best Toys for Our Kids

Wood toys are simple and fun. They’ve been stimulating imaginations of children for thousands of years. And even in this brave new age they still bring in the joy, the fun, and the wonderful world of fantasy, that no amount of technological gadgetry can displace…

In this blog I intend to write about all aspects of wood toys. From who makes them, to how and when. Maybe I’ll even delve into making wood toys…

So stay tuned, and enjoy the ride with me.