I love puzzles, specifically wooden block puzzles. While there are similar kinds of puzzles made out of plastic or glass, there is something therapeutic about holding a piece of smooth wood and figuring out how it fits into a larger whole. After some introspection (and completing a few puzzles) I realized that part of my love for these old-fashioned wooden toys is nostalgia. Do kids today like old-fashioned wooden toys or am I just seeing through rose-colored glasses?
While it might be easy to go to the store and pick the first colorful toy you see (or the first one that your kid asks for) off the shelf, it’s important to pick toys that encourage interaction. It’s critical that the toy isn’t just going to distract your child for a few hours but can help them develop their conversational skills. What does that mean? Toys are actually a great way to teach kids language. A Jama study found that children learned more words during play with traditional, old-fashioned toys rather than new, electronic ones. Here at Troomi, we encourage learning all kinds of skills. Whether it be safety with smartphones, taking public transport, or picking good toys, our goal is to help your child become well-rounded, educated, and tech-smart.
So What Makes for A Good Toy?
Troomi puts a lot of thought into making a smartphone that’s safe, educational, and accessible for kids. Part of that development included asking questions. Questions are an important part of figuring out what’s best for your kids. So what are the questions we should ask to pick out a good toy for our kids?
Can it generate imagination? Imagination is key. Pick toys that encourage kids to play pretend, problem solve, and create. Plain blocks can become a house, a tower, people, and more!
Does it encourage socialization? Picking toys that encourage parent-child socialization is also critical. Your involvement can take the toy from entertaining to educational. For example, my nieces would make me different kinds of pizza out of playdough. This encouraged them to think of new pizza flavors, shape the playdough, and communicate their ideas with me.
Does it encourage questions? Encourage kids to ask questions as they play. When Jama ran their study on the benefits of traditional toys, they found that what set old-fashioned toys apart from the new style of toys are the questions and conversations they can generate. It’s not just playing with blocks—it’s creating a city and imagining the people who live in that city. They might ask questions like, “How do I build a house out of these blocks?” and you can help them answer those questions.
What Are the Advantages to Old-Fashioned Wooden Toys?
Wooden toys have a few advantages over tech or plastic toys.
Quieter – One of my personal favorites is that they are quieter. This benefit goes beyond parent comfort. Loud toys can potentially be more dangerous than we might first think. Some toys are loud enough to harm hearing, but even at safe levels these toys can impact kids’ ability to pay attention and affect their language development.
Safe, durable, and long-lasting – Wooden toys are more safe than plastic toys for another reason. When plastic toys break, they can shatter into sharp pieces that could potentially lead to cuts. Wooden toys, on the other hand, are more durable and don’t break as easily. This means that kids can play with them for longer. They can even be refinished or repainted if they start to fade or wear. Wooden toys are also more environmentally friendly than plastic.
Critical Thinking – Wooden toys can encourage critical thinking. Wooden block puzzles are a kind of toy that has multiple purposes. They can be put together as a puzzle or just used as toy blocks. Kids learn problem-solving skills using these old-fashioned wooden toys.
Are There Disadvantages to Old-Fashioned Wooden Toys?
There are ups and downs to every kind of toy. When buying toys, make sure to consider where you’re purchasing the toy from. The CPSC has guidelines on what makes a safe toy. A downside to old-fashioned wooden toys purchased from a second hand store is the possibility of it containing lead paint or being flammable. There are swabs that let you check for lead paint. Take this safety measure to keep your kids safe from lead paint if you’re worried about their toys.
Old-Fashioned Wooden Toys
So what wooden toys are out there? And how can you and your kids play with them?
Construction toys like Lincoln Logs, construction sets, and wooden trucks. Kids can use toys like these to build or to create elaborate structures.
Pretend toys like kitchen toys, dolls, and play houses. These toys allow kids to play house or even create a make-believe restaurant. These games can encourage socializing and group problem-solving.
Educational toys like counting beads, puzzles, and mazes. These toys can help kids learn problem solving, creative thinking, and goal setting skills (and they’re also my personal favorite).
Kids can learn a lot through play and the conversations that come from play. So when you’re looking for educational, durable toys for your kids, don’t forget about good old-fashioned wooden toys. And maybe consider getting a block puzzle for yourself, too!