Why are wooden toys the finest play and learn things? Are they even better than educational board games? A painting session? A beehive?
Is there such a thing as the ideal toy? If that's the case, wooden toys could be the closest thing. Maria Montessori preferred "natural" toys made of natural materials such as wood because they are healthful, safe, and motivating for children. They're also elegant and long-lasting; some of the first toys found were made of wood. You could even get a beehive made of wood.
A simple, wonderfully built wooden toy may pique a child's curiosity without overwhelming them, and it can inspire rather than drive their creativity.
Here are eight reasons why you should buy wooden toys:
1. They assist youngsters in concentrating.
According to research, natural materials such as wood in play and early childhood centers help youngsters concentrate, focus, and even quiet down more than other types of places. Touching the wood physically relaxes youngsters, implying that playing with wooden toys can have a neurological influence on a child's brain.
According to a National Institutes of Health research published in 2017, "contact with wood produces physiological relaxation." Toys that foster a quieter and more continuous play environment can be extremely useful to young children and their cognitive development in an age of overstimulation and continual input. Not at all like a beehive.
2. More applications equals fewer toys
When it comes to toys for babies, toddlers, and kindergarden children, less is usually more since too many options may be overwhelming. This attitude is evident in the minimalist interiors of Montessori and Waldorf homes and early childhood education programs, which often contain a smaller variety of flexible, open-ended wooden playthings.
A 2018 study randomly assigned a group of toddlers to two different play environments, one with 16 toys and one with only four, and discovered that "as measured by sustained play and variety of manners of play, toddlers had a greater quality of play in the Four Toy condition compared to the Sixteen Toy condition.""
When there are fewer toys to pick from, children naturally build closer ties with them and engage in deeper play. Because wooden toys are open-ended, children may invent their own games and spend longer time with a single object.
3. They encourage imaginative play while also teaching the concepts of cause and effect.
Flashing lights, vibrant colors, displays, and loud noises abound in the toy industry. These features provide rapid reward for young children, but they also limit chances for problem-solving and imaginative play.
Because wooden toys are simpler, they can help with cognitive milestones in ways that showy ones cannot. Around 9 months, for example, newborns begin to comprehend cause and effect more clearly: hitting a block on the ground produces a noise, dropping one causes it to disappear. A basic wooden toy, such as a block set or a simple puzzle, distills this notion to its essence: "when I do something, something else happens as a result.""
Wooden toys, on the other hand, provide a lovely, tactile, open-ended "blank canvas" for a kid to explore at their own speed and on their own terms. The added bells and whistles that can make other toys more tempting to youngsters tend to limit and influence how they play with them.
4. They're a low-key introduction to life in the real world.
Toys, in many respects, serve as an introduction to how the physical world works: they are among the first items that youngsters touch, chew on, and play with. Simple wooden toys give peaceful, calm lessons in physics, cause and effect, object permanence, creativity, problem-solving, and a variety of other fundamental concepts.
Yes, a determined infant or toddler can generate noise out of anything, but wooden toys are often quieter, allowing for a more relaxed playing atmosphere devoid of the noise (not to mention lights and activity) of many plastic toys.
5. They are motivating.
Wooden toys are ideal for constructing new worlds from the ground up. Blocks and other wooden toys may be transformed into anything a kid desires and can accompany a child's growth from simple symbolic play to complicated creative play, even a (fake) beehive. Montessori practitioners (along with many other educators and caregivers) believe that using basic, natural materials leads to greater meaningful and persistent involvement.
Children may use their own developing imaginations to construct, innovate, tinker, make-believe, and create, whether they are creating a city, zipping a wooden vehicle around, or designing a railroad track that runs from room to room.
6. They teach youngsters arithmetic and physics.
To build and balance, wooden blocks need dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and a great deal of fine-motor accuracy. They also help with crucial numeracy abilities like pattern matching and identification.
Because there are no magnets or connecting mechanisms to hold the blocks together, youngsters must concentrate on coordinating their hands and eyes to create and balance the various pieces. When a structure topples when the sixth block is placed on top, or when a ball slides down a ramp, children learn early physics concepts.
7. They are durable.
There's a reason why wooden toys are the most frequently donated, passed down, and inherited. They are not indestructible, but they are long-lasting if properly cared for.
Montessori encourages young children to investigate toys and playthings in their own unique way, which for infants, toddlers, and kindergarden children may include repetitive mouthing, throwing, and rolling. This implies that safety is a key factor to consider when selecting playthings: which ones will last and remain safe as they age? Wood is one of nature's safest materials for newborns and toddlers.
8. They're stunning.
Aesthetics may or may not be high on everyone's list of toy selection criteria, but beauty does matter—especially when it comes to long-lasting toys. Wooden toys, furniture, art, and other objects are visually appealing whether painted, stained, or left natural. Physical beauty is highly valued in the Montessori philosophy: clean lines, appealing (but not excessively brilliant) colors, and exact order all contribute to a quiet learning environment. Wooden toys are a natural choice for these areas since they are generally stackable, simple to clean, and visually appealing.