Wood was one of the first materials to be carved into the likenesses of animals and people to delight both young and old alike. It is difficult to pinpoint when exactly wooden toys first appeared, but there is evidence that the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks used wood, with the first hand carved wooden playthings being painted by hand as well.
Today's world encourages children and adults to play their games on their computers, and although there are advantages to be gained from this type of mental exercise, there is a recognized lack of tactile satisfaction. Electrical and battery operated gadgets litter toy boxes and children's rooms, and multitudes of toys are soon discarded in favor of the next mechanical marvels. Attention spans dwindle and plastic toys reign supreme.
The Good Old Days
In spite of the seemingly shallow devotion to mass produced playthings, there is now a rapidly emerging call for the return of the classic toys of yesteryear. Parents are searching now for the quieter, more thoughtful objects and games of days gone by.
There is a yearning in America for simpler times, simpler diversions, places where we can go and things we can use to stimulate our imaginations. The toys of yesteryear were hand-carved, often artistically designed, and luckily for us, passed down through the generations. Antique wooden toys are in great demand because now, based on that emerging nostalgia for the charm and appeal of childhood classics, the wooden toy is coming back into favor.
Wooden toys and puzzles still have distinct advantages over plastic and value above and beyond nostalgia:
- Wooden toys last the longest and take the most wear and tear.
- They contain no toxic PVC.
- They stimulate the imagination.
- Enhance motor skills.
- Encourage social and emotional development.
- Develop problem solving skills.
- Aid in color and form recognition.
- Grow in value and become heirlooms.
Wooden Toys Available Today
Games of wooden checkers and chess make for quiet thought provoking contemplation. Cars and trucks made of wood still delight the youngsters. And toddlers continue to love all the wooden pull along toys. Wooden toys are usually simple playthings and they can be found on line - a fire station, a farmhouse, a dollhouse and furniture. For both children and adults, jigsaw puzzles remain cherished pastimes and new trends in puzzle making are continually emerging.
Three dimensional wooden puzzles are one of the latest innovations in modern quality toy making. These so-called "live" puzzles are formed via a unique technique of sculpting and puzzling a single piece of wood into a three dimensional interlocking puzzle.
The animal you hold in this new form of puzzle articulates and moves like the creature it represents. Sequentially locking pieces create a sculpture that stays together when locked with the eye piece and each puzzle has a surprise inside. The giraffe may have a baby giraffe inside, the cat a mouse, the turtle an egg, the golden retriever a puppy, the bear a cub, etc. Mahogany, cherry, and walnut are the woods of choice and the artist's renditions are sought after, not only as cherished gifts for children, but by adults as works of art and conversation pieces.
The resurgence in wooden toys is not surprising given the fast pace in today's society. Country living has come back into favor along with the joys of a hammock and a good book, while toys have naturally followed suit. Parents are beginning to realize the benefits of the simpler pleasures in life, even for their young. Little Johnny pretending that his wooden sailboat is a great ship on the high seas requires imagination, inward storytelling, and quiet concentration which may be better defined as peace and quiet. It is in that land of peace and quiet that we are most receptive to learning, where we grow to know ourselves and to discover our own dreams.