Toys have been an important part of childhood since early civilization, and while children today are very different from those of thousands of years ago, many of their favorite toys are similar to those that have been around for centuries. Already in the ancient Greek and Roman empires, children are known to have played with dolls, horses and chariots. The first toys discovered by archaeologists were all made of wood.
Wooden toys continued to be a common part of childhood for thousands of years. In the 1700s, German toymakers began making a variety of wooden toys for sale to the general public. Vendors traveled Europe to market the popular wooden toys, taking advance orders for special occasions and often for custom-made wooden toys. Life-like dolls and animals were becoming favorite toys for children across Europe.
Over the next century, toymakers became more elaborate and detailed with their wooden creations. Wooden miniatures such as dollhouses and playhouses became popular during the 19th century, as did wooden toy soldiers. Many wooden toys, like the classic Jack in a box, were hand-painted in bright, vivid colors. Wooden trains, along with their wooden tracks, were one of the best-selling toys during this period.
At the end of World War II, several new materials were introduced to the manufacturing industry, including plastic, which is still popular. The production of wooden toys steadily declined as more and more toy manufacturers switched to cheaper and more modern materials. Plastic toys were much easier to mass produce and were more affordable for families with children.
Today, wooden toys are rarely seen on traditional toy store shelves, but the allure and appeal of these childhood classics have kept several wooden toy manufacturers in business. A variety of wooden toys can be purchased online, from miniature appliances to small gifts and novelty games.
Wooden toys are usually simple toys that encourage a child to use their imagination. Wooden puzzles encourage children to develop cognitively and develop fine motor skills. Wooden ride-on toys and pedal cars enhance physical skills and gross motor development. Whether it’s a fire station or a farm, miniature wooden play sets aid in social and emotional development. Wooden toys have great educational value due to their simplicity.
Plastic toys are still generally less expensive than wooden toys and are considered by some to be safer due to the flammability of older wooden toys and possible injuries from thrown or falling wooden objects, but wooden toys are not They contain toxic PVC like plastic toys. Wooden toys are the most durable toys and can usually last for generations of play.
Today’s wooden toys are just as innovative, if not more so, than modern electronic toys. Wooden cars, trucks, and ropes make wonderful gifts, and wooden pull-along toys delight young children. Calm games like chess and checkers, and even tic tac toe can be found made of wood, as well as physical games like ring toss. For toys that provide educational benefits and last for decades, choose the time-tested, wooden toys.