Are Wooden Toys Really Better?

If you have or work with young kids, there is a good chance you’ve heard the hype about wooden toys, and for good reason. Wooden toys are usually open-ended, not overwhelming, and can last a long time. However, are wooden toys the “best” toys and should you ONLY be buying them? From my experience, not necessarily. While wooden toys have many benefits, you can find good quality plastic toys as well. What’s most important is that a toy is designed well with an understanding of child development so that it is practical to use and is not over stimulating with many buttons and functions. The goal of a toy should be to inspire a child to take some sort of action (explore, move, use hands to perform a task, play pretend, etc). The goal of active play can be achieved with many plastic toys just as it can with wooden toys. In fact, there are many fun, creative and interesting toys that are plastic that teach kids many valuable skills. Take a look at the list below with a few examples of some of my favorite plastic toys that would make an excellent addition to any playroom.

1) Pop n’ Play Animal Friends

Why I like it: This toy teaches cause and effect since the animals pop up as soon as the knobs are activated. Also, each knob moves differently, so children have to problem-solve to figure out how each one works.

2) Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog

Why I like it: This is an exciting and more meaningful twist on the typical pegboard toy as children have to take out and insert spikes onto the hedgehog. The spikes snugly fit inside and require some resistance to take in and out. This helps build muscles in the hands and helps develop fine motor skills

3) Tobbles Neo

Why I like it: Tobbles Neo is a unique balancing and nesting toy that encourages exploration and active play as children stack the wobbly pieces at different angles without them falling over.

4) Shape Sorting House

Why I like it: This shape sorter has a clear and straightforward design which makes focusing on the goal of sorting that much easier.

5) Farm Animal Pop Blocs

Why I like it: These 2-piece 3D farm animal puzzles are great for building strength in the hands and encouraging both sides of the body to work together. Playing with these also encourages problem-solving as children match the correct pieces to create the animals.

6 ) Mrs Potato Head

Why I like it: Mr. Potato head is an excellent toy for building eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills while learning spatial relationships (front, back, up, down, etc.).

helen sadovsky