Category

Toys

wooden toys

Wooden toys

By | family, fun for children, Party, play, Playing, Toys
by Susan Luxford
Timeless Toys

Wooden toys- the freedom to explore, create and grow

It might be surprising to know that wooden toy brands have been around for a long time. Leicester based Lanka Kade and Surrey based Le Toy Van both celebrated 25 years in 2019 whist German brands like Goki and Heimess have been making wooden toys since the early 1970s. Despite their longevity, it is only in the most recent years that wooden toys have seen a revival and are experiencing an ever-growing popularity. But why?

There has been growing awareness of the value of unstructured open-ended play and wooden toys have often been designed with this in mind, enabling children’s imaginations and creativity to be boundless. These toys don’t have an obvious single use, instructions or rules giving children the ability to be in control of how they play, keeping their minds clear as they think through different scenarios or solve problems. By encouraging open-ended play, wooden toys can help develop a child’s reasoning and problem solving skills, social interactions, improve their hand/eye coordination and fine motor skills and aid speech development.

There’s been increasing health concerns about the chemicals used within plastic toys to make them pliable and colourful, that children then absorb through their mouths and skin. Despite regulations in place, toys made to unsafe levels are still commonly finding their way into homes. In 2018, 31% of toys sold in the EU were recalled over safety concerns with 25% of these having unsafe chemical levels1 – whilst 722,000 toys were seized and impounded by the EU in 20182. Wooden toys do not contain PVC or phthalates that cause endocrine (hormone) disruption, they are free of preservatives and formaldehyde, respiratory irritants linked to asthma and allergies and free
of Naphthalene and its chemical cousins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are strongly suspected to cause cancer.

Parents are questioning whether previously popular electronic toys marketed as educational and interactively beneficial, are either. Noises and electronic features can interrupt a child’s thinking process and limit how far a child’s imagination can go. Overstimulation can make it difficult for the brain to think critically. Additionally, with parents now spending twice as much time with their children as 50 years ago and more time at home than playing outside, parents are seeking toys that foster a calmer home environment.

The issues of plastic pollution, waste and environmental damage are big issues we are all concerned about. 8.5 million3 new, perfectly good toys are thrown away every year in the UK, which then end up in landfills, incinerators or in the ocean. Wooden toys are robust, durable and repairable, will hold a child’s interest for longer and can become family heirlooms, yielding less waste. They can be recycled easily and will fully biodegrade harmlessly within 13 years. Wooden toys use minimal fossil fuels to create them and quality brands only use FSC woods, a global forest certification system that means the wood is not only renewably sourced but comes from responsibly managed forests that protect fragile ecosystems and respects local indigenous populations.

Last but not least, there is a growing interest in the impact our buying power has on the communities and workforces where manufacturing is taking place. Many wooden toy brands are already ahead in the toy industry for their sustainability and ethos to ethical practices. The majority are still family-owned independent companies and run charitable education foundations and reforestation programmes.

With spring now here, it’s the perfect time to declutter those shelves of unloved toys and the noisy ones that irritate you. Consider making your next purchase a wooden one, with no right or wrong, no levels, no batteries, no flashing lights or sound. Just the freedom to explore, create and grow.

1 https://ec.europa.eu/consumers/consumers_safety/safety_products/rapex/alerts/repository/content/pages/rapex/reports/docs/RAPEX.2018.Factsheet.EN.pdf

2 https://eeb.org/more-banned-chemicals-in-toys-than-any-other-product-type/

3https://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/environment/rubbishandrecycling/factsandfigures/

Timeless Toys specialises in wooden toys and is at 103 Portland Road, Hove BN3 5DP – open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday. For more information see Timeless Toys UK on Facebook.

 

Why do children love to play so much?

By | Education, environment, fun for children, Green, Playing, Summer, Toys
by Tanya Petherick
Class Of Their Own

Children love to play. We know that, but just what is it about play that children love? At this point in an article, you might expect to see a definition of play. As people who study play are fond of saying; play is easy to see, but hard to define. The desire to play is innate. Innate is a word we can define. It means natural, in built, instinctive – in other words, no one needs to, or indeed, can, tell a child how to play. Play can be facilitated by adults, yet it is essentially child-led; children doing what they want with the resources they have available. Think about all the times a young child has been more interested in the cardboard box than the gift inside. Yet, play is not just for toddlers. Children of all ages learn through play. This might be something pragmatic, such as young children playing shops and counting out one apple and two pears, through to older primary-aged children playing card games using more advanced numerical skills.

Children receive a natural satisfaction from play. In academic circles, this is termed intrinsic motivation; a behaviour which is driven by an internal reward – put simply, play is something children want to do. A lot of the time, play is fun. Playing with friends, playing outside, getting wet, staying dry, playing in pairs, playing in groups, playing alone, imagining, making, cutting, sticking, creating, cooking, discovering, exploring – they all sound like great fun. Undoubtedly, one reason children might love play is it can be enormous fun – but it isn’t always. Sometimes play is sad, unfair or physically painful; think about children role-playing sad events, not being included in a group game and that childhood staple of grazed knees.

These three examples alone show how play can prepare children for life as an adult, sad things do happen and developing skills to process these emotions help us makes sense of life, understanding unfairness helps us to process information, and those grazed knees? Well, they teach us to tie up our shoelaces or the need to take more care on the scooter.

Can you remember being bored as a child? Getting part way through the long school holiday and declaring the dreaded “I’m bored” phrase? Being bored, or more importantly, being allowed to be bored, is an important part of a child’s development. It is when children are bored that they make creative use of the resources around them. I can remember ‘ruining,’ in my mum’s words, and ‘making more fun’ in mine, a game of Connect 4 by painting the inside of all the red and yellow circles with different coloured paint and using my new pieces to create a more complex version of the game. Had I not been bored with the original version of the game, I would never have developed my own, more engaging version of the game (I have to confess that this happened years ago, and I am still waiting for Connect 4 to pick up my great idea!). It is the necessity of creativity that results from being bored that can create fantastic fun.

Children have an innate desire to play, are intrinsically motivated to do so, and are creative about it, but does that answer our question about why children love to play? In a way it does. But let’s look at the question from a different angle. Maybe it is less about a child’s desire to play, and more about the associated benefits of play that have kept play at the evolutionary forefront of a child’s development. It is through play that children develop confidence, self-esteem, independence, emotional resilience, physical skills, concentration and creative thinking. Or, put another way, the skills that follow children into adulthood. At a time when children face criticism for being too attached to electronic devices, not doing enough exercise and being ‘over-scheduled’ the benefits of play may seem an overly simplistic response, yet as we have seen, it is through play that children find out who they are, and how the world around them works.

It can be easy to overlook the benefits of your child ‘just’ playing when planning the summer holidays. Allowing a child to follow their individual interests reduces guilt when planning holiday childcare, however, do not feel the need to overschedule children. As a parent or carer in today’s busy world, giving children the time and space to play is one of the best things a parent can do to help their child develop the skills they will need growing up and into adulthood. So, turn off the tablet and let children play in the way you did: on their own, with friends, at a holiday club and don’t forget, you can join in too! Let yourself be led by your child and don’t worry if you can’t remember how to play. It is what children do, so give them 30 minutes of your time and encourage them to choose what you do together – it is invaluable time together, and your child (and you!) will love it, but, also allow them to get bored and get creative – you never know where it will take them!

Class Of Their Own offer high quality, affordable and secure out of school clubs for primary school children aged 4-11. www.classoftheirown.com

Five favourite toys for under fives

By | family, fun for children, Toys, Uncategorized
by Kerin McDonald
Fennies Day Nurseries Ltd

Our five favourite toys for under fives come from a form of play that we use in everyday life at Fennies Nurseries called ‘Loose Parts Theory.’ It is not a newly invented form of play nor are the ‘must have toys’ anything new, but they are all magical and treasured by children and therefore loved by us and by parents. The ‘toys’ don’t have instructions and can be played with on their own or in combination. Better still, they inspire creativity and inventiveness and can be found all around us, in nature and around the home.

1. A stick
What is it about little boys and sticks, or little girls and sticks for that matter? The stick is our number one for good reason. Sticks can become anything from swords to pirate flags to wands, pens and markers. They can be used in high action adventures or to build dens or they can be used for drawing in the dirt or sand, or to practise writing and numbers. A stick can be a boat or a raft and raced under bridges or they can be bridges themselves. Children play with sticks on their own or combine them with other sticks or toys (or with other children). Sticks can be any shape, size and colour and are also super in a great big pile of sticks. Bigger seems to be better although there are no limits to the size of a stick, (other than what can be held, at which point a stick becomes a log.) We have an assortment of smaller sticks adorning our nursery hallways and these are regularly updated for newer and ‘better’ sticks. Best yet, sticks are cost-effective toys and, in this case, they do actually grow on trees.

2. A box
A toy nearly as versatile and valuable as a stick. Boxes come in many different sizes, shapes and colours and can be used indoors and outdoors. Boxes transform into ships, cars, trains or any mode of transport. A box can be a chair, a den or a cave. If a large box is squished on one side it becomes a slide. Boxes can be used on their own or combined to become building blocks, treasure chests or beds and they can become houses and resting places for teddies or dolls. It is no surprise that more often than not, new expensive toys are discarded in favour of the box and wrapping they came in. Boxes come in all shapes and sizes, very large and very small boxes are favoured and boxes with lids stimulate even more imaginative play. You might have to buy something to get a box or you can get boxes free of charge from supermarkets or shops.

3. A cardboard tube
Hours of fun once the paper towels, toilet roll or wrapping paper are used. A cardboard tube brings delight and wonder to children of all ages but especially those under five. Tubes come in a variety of sizes and children adapt their use accordingly. A cardboard tube is most commonly transformed into a telescope or a megaphone, however, it can be as versatile as a stick. Cardboard tubes are not as robust as sticks but they are a more practical choice if being used indoors. Tubes can become tunnels, funnels or slides for other toys. Cardboard tubes are not free, however, you will find that many items around the home have a cardboard tube inside them and once they have been played with over and over and over, a cardboard tube can be recycled.

4. Water
We are not sure if water can really be classified as a toy as it needs a receptacle, however, it is marvellous to play with. Ironically, children don’t always love being in water but they do adore playing with water. Water, requires close supervision but there doesn’t need to be a large amount to excite or inspire. Water can be swished, swirled, splashed, bubbled, spilt or poured. It is a wonderful texture and makes great sounds and movements. Water can also be magically transformed into ice or snow which has infinite possibilities for never ending play.

5. Dirt
Finally, a controversial toy or play thing, yet one with endless play opportunities and with probably the highest success rate with children under five. Dirt is fun and children absolutely love to get messy. Dirt can be dug, spread, piled, heaped and used in all manner of ways that only children understand. Dirt can be found in many different places and if you add water, dirt gets even more exciting as it miraculously changes into mud! Although children love to bring dirt inside, it is really an outside toy especially when combined with other toys or water. Dirt is by its very nature, dirty, but it is easily washed away and it is worth the clean-up for such a wonderful toy.

Kerin McDonald is a mummy of two boys under five and is Head of Marketing for Fennies Day Nurseries Ltd, a group  of ten, family run nurseries across Surrey and South London.
Established 25 years ago, Fennies offers wonderful childcare and learning for children aged three months to five years. www.fennies.com