There is something so simple and nostalgic about wooden toys and even the most modern designs still have the simplicity and innocence we want every child to enjoy. Wood has been carved, shaped, engineered, and placed in little hands for millennia, yet it can seem like the benefits of wooden playthings are a relatively new discovery after all the noise, lights, and screens of contemporary toys and games.
Outstanding benefits of wooden toys.
It’s almost as if the wood was made specifically for childhood toys such is its resilience and versatility. It’s great that it’s an all-natural substance and worry-free for skin and mouths when painted or coated with non-toxic materials.
Because solid wood is so readily shaped, traditional wooden toys are usually child friendly and easy to hold and manipulate which is great for helping kids hit their developmental milestones. Best of all wood toys are really fun and bring the whole family together in working on a puzzle, playing a wooden game, or building another tower of chunky bricks.
What are the wooden toys that are shaking up the market in 2020?
If you know anything about wooden toys, you’ll know that tradition is what sells. Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles love that they can share a toy that they enjoyed in their childhood with little ones. This means the main types of wooden toys never go out of fashion. There are also so many ways of altering the color, style, and design of wooden toys that they offer something for everyone, from design-conscious urbanists to retro or vintage enthusiasts. It should be easy to find something for everyone. Read on for our well-curated list of 2020’s best wooden toys.
Top wooden toys that make a great investment for childhood play in 2020
Imagine a supercomputer you could put in even the tiniest of hands. That is what you will be giving with an abacus. Beyond the bright colors and chunky beads is an ancient counting machine that originated in the Middle East thousands of years ago. Since those dusty old days, the abacus has spread around the world, with Roman, Sumerian, and Japanese abacuses just being few of the available varieties.
You’ll have great fun learning to count to ten and one hundred, but did you know that this humble wooden toy can crunch numbers up to a billion? What a learning goal to set! It’s all about place value and should give adults a great mental workout too.
2. Alphabet blocks
Humble alphabet cubes will provide toddlers with hours of gainful occupation, so it’s no surprise that they are a toy that parents just keep coming back to time after time. The concept of these wooden blocks is a simple one:
- One face of these bricks has engraved letters.
- Another face carries numbers
- Alternate sides of these wooden cubes depict animals and objects, shapes, and colors.
Use parent power instead of batteries to get the most out of these blocks which can really help your pre-K child get a solid grasp of letters, numbers, and first words. Plus, they are usually just the right size for your baby’s first attempts at stacking and arranging bricks.
3. Building bricks
Solid three-dimensional shapes like:
- wood cubes
- wooden cuboids
- pyramids that are made of wood
- carved cones
- hardwood cylinders
These building bricks come in a range of colors and shapes and can be used for building all sorts of things. With enough bricks, the only limit is the imagination, and your child will be pleased and excited to take you on a VIP tour of the castles, bridges, and cities they have made.
These wood blocks can be made of all sorts of wood and have a range of finishes that nowadays are free of toxic chemicals and heavy metals. If you have some basic carpentry skills, you may also want to have a go at making your own blocks from beechwood or other suitable woods.
It’s safe to say that 2020 has been the year where plans to have that 10 pin bowling night has had to be put on hold. However, wooden skittles will set your garden or living room floor alive and can put the local bowling alley to shame.
Skittles is a classic game that everyone, whether young or old, can enjoy and it is great for getting everyone together to have a great time and eat loads of snacks! For younger children look for a smaller set with a lighter weight bowling ball that they will find easy to handle. Bowling will be great for younger children who can get their coordination and spatial awareness built up by having lots of turns.
A wooden wagon is a great toy to have on hand around the house. You will find that providing your toddler with one of these will bring out their inner leader and get them dragging the wagon after them everywhere they go. Take the opportunity to use a toy wagon as impromptu storage and encourage your child to tidy up scattered toys and projects by placing them in the wagon. Larger wooden wagons can also be purchased for seating your children in when on a camping excursion or beach trip.
Pull toys are a classic first plaything and make a great present for babies that are beginning to find their feet. The old-fashioned rotary dial phone with a smiley face is still going strong as parents remember this style of pull toy from their own childhood. Other favorites include ducks, dogs, and vehicles.
7. Wooden Puzzles
Wood is a high-quality material for puzzles of all levels of complexity. It will withstand the chewing and bashing of younger users and pieces do not wear out as the modern cardboard puzzles do. The very first puzzles, made over 400 years ago were made from wooden sheets overlaid with paper maps and cut with a jigsaw. Today maps can even be comprised of three-dimensional blocks providing a great mental challenge for all ages
Stacking rings are a great pick to encourage babies and toddlers to sit down and concentrate on something for a few minutes. There are many cheap plastic versions of this toy, but the solid wood original is still the best. These rings work hand to eye coordination which is a developing skill for young children.
The developmental milestone of being able to place the ring over the poles and stack them usually becomes attained between ages one and two, though there need not be any pressure either way. Offering toys that help your child gain dexterity and coordination is beneficial even to older children who will know how to organize the rings by size.
If you have a young child who is teething, natural wood rings, stained with natural dyes and finished with beeswax could not make a more ideal teether.
Peg dolls make a delightful gift for children and are a great substrate for imaginative play. They can be anything from decorated wooden clothes pegs to something closer to the original wooden Bavarian dolls, complete with articulating carved limbs and costumes.
You may want to provide exquisitely painted peg dolls that can be decorated as soldiers, nurses, and characters from your child’s favorite books. Alternatively, most craft stores will carry plain carved peg dolls that you can try painting yourselves. If you want to have a go, we recommend reading the article “Tips for non-toxic paint for peg dolls” which includes key points on painting the wooden dolls.
If you are looking for wooden toys for older children, there is no excuse for boredom with this classic game of strategy. Chess can be successfully introduced to children as young as five or six years old and a beautiful chess set with well carved and striking wooden pieces will really help them retain the key principles. Some wooden chess sets, double up for playing checkers which may be easier to master.
11.Wooden hammer bench
A wood hammer peg bench is ideal for a budding carpenter who will want to take a toy hammer to anything and everything in the home. Providing this classic bench and pegs will give them the satisfaction of driving in the chunky wooden pegs again and again. Not only are the key coordination and dexterity skills strengthened, but the pegs can also be used to aid color recall or recognition of shapes. You can go right ahead and purchase this wooden toy for children aged 1 or over.
Wooden toy rattles have been an amusement for babies for centuries. They provide great stimulation and will get a baby to start handling a simple object and follow it with their eyes. It is amazing that something so simple can hold their attention for such a long time and a simple natural wood design will be just as effective as something bright and colorful. Carvings or the handle can also be used by a young child to some extent, for teething.
13. Percussion set
Bring all the benefits of music into your home in a simple and accessible way. Wood is a great choice for getting your children introduced to rhythm and sound. Consider adding some great wooden percussive instruments or world music instruments to your child’s toy box including:
- bongo drums
- wooden handled bells
and more! They can have a go with everything but be prepared for the cacophony! Alternatively, sit with your child and put on a favorite piece of music and encourage them to play the instruments along to the tune.
Wooden xylophones are perfect for exploring pitch and tone, which has always made it a popular childhood toy. Striking the wooden bars with the stick causes vibrations that our ears interpret as sound. Varying the length of the wood alters the tone. A musical instrument like this will challenge your child’s reasoning as they strike the different bars and consider what is different about each one.
15. Train set
Swedish company Brio is world-renowned for its iconic wooden train sets that can be expanded with miles upon miles of their untreated birchwood track and other accessories. Wooden railway sets are highly collectible and interchangeable, and they come in a range of designs including stylish New York City Subway cars and other special editions.
The best thing about collecting wooden train sets is that you can start small and expand your child’s collection with new or second-hand track, trains and carriages that come your way. If you get your hands on some old rail tracks, you can clean them up with the tips we share in the article “cleaning wooden railway tracks”.
16. Trucks or other vehicles
Wooden vehicles are great for imaginative play and will get your child off the sofa and onto the floor and active. Wheeled toys like cars or trucks are great for building up a child’s fine motor skills as they push and pull their toy around.
Also known as Jenga, this popular game consists of over 50 wooden blocks that are stacked in a tower and progressively removed and built up on top of one another in a competitive family game. Despite being so basic and simple, groups can have hours of fun as they try to evade being the competitor that topples the tower! Many versions of this balance game are now in existence including giant topple towers that can be played in an outdoor space.
A wood clock can never be introduced to your child too early, as they usually comprise so much more than the basic timekeeping device. Wooden clocks usually combine solid wood shape blocks, numbers, and a basic puzzle toy as the clock is assembled and disassembled over time.
Let your child simply play with this clock and they will in time start to relate the clock to your watch or the clock on the wall. They are great for explaining concepts like the big hand and little hand that a child will be able to move as they build on the key principles of telling the time.
19.Wooden balance bike
Fresh air and whole-body physical activity should be staples for every child. Get your child moving with balance bikes, one of the year’s most popular wooden toys. Parents worldwide have been finding that using wooden balance bikes or gliders are a very effective way of preparing your child to ride a bicycle.
These wooden balance bikes do not have pedals, brakes, or gears and are operated by your child moving their feet. They really build up the balance and if your nerves can take it, you find that even young children can master moving very quickly on these bikes. Find out more about balance bikes and some great recommendations in the article “7 Best balance bikes of 2020”
20. Play kitchen
Children love to watch their parents at work in the kitchen and with a wooden kitchen, they can practice the things they see. A play kitchen does not need to have all the bells and whistles. You can always start by collecting a few items, like wooden fruit or vegetables, pots, pans, and utensils, and build up from there.
Families with limited space need not put off taking the plunge and buying a toy kitchen, there are some great contemporary designs that are compact enough for a cozy corner of a room. Wooden toy kitchens are not only a great choice for a family but are also a great investment for playgroups and daycares too as it is such a hard-wearing material.
Purchasing from a reputable brand is wise as replacement parts can be procured if needed.
21. Play workshop
After all this talk of wood and its many benefits, we could not leave this list without promoting the benefits of a play workshop for the budding carpenter in your home. Play tools, pegboards, and workbenches are perfect for imaginative play and exercising the various movements and skills associated with handling the different toy tools. Nuts, bolts, and dowels can usually be skewed or hammered in various places and most will come with the classic wooden toolbox to tote around the home to various DIY jobs.
It’s clear to see from our whistle-stop tour that wooden toys are the great buy for 2020. They will be able to keep even the most distractable child well-occupied and are a wise investment if you are spending more time at home.
There is something for every budget and taste, and with each of these wooden toys, you can be confident that you will be building up a range of invaluable skills in your child. Wood really has stood the test of time and we’re sure that any of these toys will definitely outlast even the most vigorous play.
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