What is it about "Toys", especially wooden toys, that is so endearing and educational to children? Do you remember a favorite wooden toy that you played with as a child (maybe you even still have it)? If you can still remember it after all this time, chances are, you played with it often, learned a lot, had many adventures with it, and it has even created a "treasured" memory from your childhood.
Developmental wooden toys have fantastic value, not only as learning tools, but they also have emotional and sentimental value, as well.
A child can become very attached to a specific toy, whether it be a stuffed animal, developmental wooden toy or educational toy, and if that toy gets misplaced, or "god forbid" left at a restaurant while on vacation, the heroic measures taken to rescue that toy are tremendous!
Open-ended wooden toys that offer creative and imaginative play are great teachers and can help children learn how to:
1. Figure out how things work
2. Pick up new ideas and concepts
3. Use their imagination
4. Solve problems
5. Build muscle control and dexterity, as well as strength 6. Learn to cooperate and play with others
How to choose the right toy for that "special" little one:
There are many different types of toys to choose from, based on your child's age, and what type of skill you would like to help foster.
Below are some examples of different types of toys, and what they help teach.
Hands-on toys help encouage ideas about how things work, foster problem-solving, and build hand-eye coordination.
Some examples of "hands-on" toys are: Shape sorters, stacking toys and wooden blocks, wooden puzzles and lacing cards.
Books help teach children about literature, their alphabet, colors, and help foster concentration skills.
Educational toys teach children all sorts of things including math, science, colors, shapes, numbers, nature, etc.
Hardwood Unit Blocks (classic wooden building blocks) are probably one of the most durable toys for all ages. They teach children about geometry and gravity, shapes, color and balance.
Musical instruments and experimental materials such as sand and water offer children control while appealing to their senses.
Pretend play objects such as dolls, stuffed animals, and puppets give children the opportunity to try out new behaviors in imaginative ways.
Active play equipment helps build strength and confidence to help master physical challenges.
Some examples of "Active play" equipment are: Ride-on toys, Rocking Horses, and small climbing structures.
Appropriate toys for your "developing" child As your child grows and develops, so does their play style and taste in toys.
Here are some guidelines for what to expect at each developmental stage, and suggestions for appropriate toys and activites, brought to you by the "National PTA".
• Use their bodies as the primary avenue to explore the world.
• Learn to participate in and control simple social interactions with caregivers.
• Learn to recognize, explore, and control objects, sights, sounds, textures, and tastes.
• Explore, master, and learn to use their body parts.
• Learn how to get desired reactions from people and objects.
Examples of appropriate infant toys: mobiles, rattles, toys with wheels, stacking and nesting toys, unbreakable mirrors, washable stuffed animals and dolls, cloth and heavy cardboard books. (Try to avoid electronic toys that do things infants can't understand or control.)
• Enjoy the physical activity that comes from their new mobility in the environment.
• Explore relationships between objects and how to control them.
• Expand their understanding of object permanence--e.g., hide-and-seek activities.
• Start to see themselves as part of the community and develop skills
to participate, especially language.
• Work on using symbols and make-believe in play.
Examples of appropriate toddler toys: pull-push toys; blocks; an assortment of balls; Play Doh with simple tools (craft sticks and wooden rollers); picture books; containers, scoops, sifters, and other objects for sand and water play; toys and props for dramatic play like scarves, hats, a toy telephone, stuffed animals, and generic baby dolls; large pegged-top puzzles; a small climbing structure (a changeable structure is most versatile).
• Develop friendships and skills for playing with other children.
• Learn to use symbols in more complex ways and in two-dimensional form.
• Expand their ability to attach language to actions and ideas.
• Explore relationships between objects and how parts and wholes fit together (as in making constructions).
• Experiment with how to make desired effects happen with objects and people.
• Develop increasingly complex large and small motor skills.
• Learn how to plan ahead.
Examples of appropriate preschoolers' toys: Construction toys with interlocking pieces; new dramatic play items--props to recreate real life (gas station, post office, store) and puppets; art materials such as markers, paint, scissors, glue, and an assortment of blank paper of various colors and textures; simple musical instruments and noisemakers, including shakers and rhythm sticks; wheel toys (ride-on equipment such as bikes and wagons); outdoor play materials (balls, bats, bubble blowers and liquid soap, and giant chalk pieces); and natural outdoor materials, (rocks, sticks, and leaves).