After last week’s post on my approach to play, I am starting the hunt for my favorite toys, beginning with early learning toys. It’s easy to walk through the aisles at our local toy store and be underwhelmed by all the cheap, battery-operated and character-licensed toys that are flooding the market. As I work on curating list of my favorite toys, I will mostly be considering what is termed “slow toys“. In short, here were my criteria in making this list:
1) The toy must aid the development of early learning and sensory skills. This is a huge difference between purposeful play and mere entertainment.
2) The toy must encourage open-ended play. Helping to foster my daughter’s imagination is extremely important to me. Toys designed for open-ended play, also allow children to discover at their own pace.
3) The toy must be made of quality, natural materials. All of these items are made from wood. I love this blog post by one of my new favorite online toys shops, Oompa Toys, on the value of wood toys. Not only does this ensure the toys are safe, but that they’re more likely to last for multiple children; and they’re also beautiful to to both sight and touch.
4) The toy must remain relevant for a minimum of 3 months. Ideally, many of these toys will be used for a least a year or more, in some capacity.
With that in mind, here are my top ten wooden toys for early learning (infants and toddlers). As discussed in my play philosophy post, quality toys can be expensive, so I’ve also included links to very affordable budget versions for each type of toy listed.
No. 1 Shape sorting house from Janod, $28.50, Budget version from Toys R Us, $9.99
No. 2 Solid drum from PlanToys, $17.85, Budget version from Darice, $7.62
No. 3 Lock activity box from Mamagenius, $49.95, Budget version from Melissa & Doug, $21.99
No. 4 Marcel the cat from Vilac, $34.90, Budget version from Walmart, $4.97
No. 5 Rolling wheel from Grimm’s, $39.95, Budget version by Maxim EverEarth, $9.99
No. 6 Frappá ball from Janod, $28.13, Budget version from KidKraft, $16.99
No. 7 Windmill stackeroo from Discoveroo, $14 on sale Budget version from Ikea, $5.99
No. 8 Zig zag ball run from KidKraft, $33.99, Budget version from Maxim, $15.99
No. 9 Flap from Glodos, $149.99, Budget version from Classic Toy, $33.50
No. 10 Tunnel mountain from Hape, $88.61, Budget version from Ikea, $7.99