Have you ever wondered what happened to those quaint wooden children’s toys you played with as a young child? Today babies and toddlers are playing with colorful plastic electronic toys that do all the work for them. This raises issues as to whether kids are just being entertained or is there actual learning that occurs while playing with electronic toys and games. Growing up now is much different from when most of us were kids. Even though technology has increased drastically in the past few years, the attention spans and communications skills have definitely seen a decline. The days of playing with wooden toys are gone, or are they? So the question is what can we do to ensure that our children have the right kinds of experiences that teach them to be creative and to develop proper communication skills to succeed in this world? It all starts with the kind of things our kids are given to play with.
“Play is the work of the child,” is attributed to Maria Montessori MD, who was famous for her work in psychiatry, education and anthropology. One of the most important roles of play is activity that assists children in making choices and learning by doing to achieve mastery. Varied experiences in language, music, art, science, math and socialization contribute to brain development. With that in mind, if play is the work of the child, then toys are the tools to accomplish these tasks. As children play they are learning about themselves and others. Among the skills learned are figuring out how toys work, identifying new ideas, developing and refining motor skills, imaginary play, problem solving and learning to work with others Ryan Van Wagenen.
Giving children the right kinds of toys can increase their motor skill development and ability to communicate. Many of today’s toys include a lot of fun, noisy and colorful things, but very little that is built with such fine craftsmanship as wooden childrens toys. Along with the quality of the toy, the purpose of many older heirloom toys was for the educational value. Among the many examples were old wooden puzzles, blocks, log cabin structures, and other handmade toys that not only allow the kids to be creative, but to play without fear of breaking them.
On the social side of the equation there are toys like wooden puppet theatres that allow kids to role play. This role playing allows them to express themselves in a safe way. These ideas are just a few of the ways that wooden toys can be used. The durability of the toys, along with the old school way of thinking will allow children to become all that they were meant to be. Because of their durability these toys will last for several generations of fun for children. While handmade wooden toys may be more expensive initially their lasting qualities more than justify the additional expense when making a choice between plastic or wooden toys. The wooden toys will be loved for many generations by young children and passed on so their children can enjoy them too.