Why wooden toys are the best
I absolutely LOVE wooden toys for my children and I hope, by the end of this post, you will too. Wooden toys, really are the best! I love to see what my kids can create from simple wooden objects…it's amazing!
If you are new to Montessori, or even just new to parenting, you may be wondering what the big deal is with simple wooden toys!
What is a Montessori toy?
To be clear, there is no such thing as a “Montessori toy”. There are just toys that lend themselves to the development of certain concepts, much like the materials in a Montessori learning environment.
And many Montessori parents appreciate toys geared toward Waldorf and other alternative learning philosophies. Because there are no Montessori toys, Montessori parents have the choice of exposing their children to traditional toys (lights, buttons, music, ect) or open-ended wooden toys.
Now, I will say that toy companies make some pretty awesome stuff these days! Toys that light up, play music, and even teach your child the alphabet, colors, numbers…impressive! Toys talk, walk, flip, fly…I mean how can a bucket of blocks compare to that!?
So, why go back in time, toy-wise? Doesn't it seem like kids with wooden toys are deprived of the action-packed, educational benefits that many plastic toys provide?
Here are 6 good reasons to go back to wooden toys
1- They aren't easily broken, which means they will survive the wear and tear of your children and still be in good enough condition to pass down to the next generation or to donate/sell.
As any parent, veteran or newbie, knows, toys need to be tough. They need to last. Even just one child can put a toy to the test!
2- Babies and young toddlers put things in their mouths and plastic is kind of… Yucky.
PVC plastics, for the most part, are what makes plastic toys dangerous for kids and babies. The danger mostly comes from when the toys are used with very young children and babies, because, as we all know babies put everything in their mouths.
Plastic teething rings and bath toys can be extremely toxic. The reason for this is the chemicals used to make these plastic toys leech out into the child's digestive system, and eventually their bloodstream.
3- Wooden toys are far less likely to be toxic and far more visually appealing, inviting the child to play with them. Wood, especially when left unpolished/unpainted, is pleasant to the touch, as well. Each wooden toy has a unique texture; something for the brain to sense, as well as the hands.
Try for yourself! Pick up a plastic toy, then pick up a wooden toy. Wooden toys have a warmer, more comforting feel. All plastic feels the same…cold and smooth. There is no variation in texture, no uniqueness or variation.
Displaying your wooden toys (or even your plastic ones) on shelves is going to make them even more inviting to your child.
4- Simple wooden toys lend more opportunities for open-ended play. This type of play is how children make discoveries, test hypothesizes, and develop crucial developmental skills, especially if your child is playing independently.
5- Many wooden toys require a child to build, expanding their spatial and mathematical intuition. Open-ended toys (which most wooden toys are) require a child to learn by doing. This is not to say that no plastic toy requires a child's creativity and concentration. Magna-tiles and K'NEX are two examples of plastic toys that encourage concentration and creativity.
6- They are more environmentally friendly.
Let's face it, folks. Our hyper-consumption of plastic has done no favors for our planet.
Plastic seemed like the solution to deforestation. We were all so happy to find an alternative to wood! Yay!
Not so fast!
The problem is wood and paper decompose and plastic does not. It sits in our landfills, leaching into the soil and water. And don't get me started on the fossil fuels it takes to produce all that plastic!
There you have it! 6 great reason why wood toys are better than plastic toys!
No need to go give away your children's favorite toys just because they are plastic, though. Plastic toys, except for the light up/button pushing ones, do not go against any Montessori principal.
All I am saying, is give wood a chance!
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