The classic elegance of wooden toys speaks of less complicated days when
a hand-carved toy was a treasure, and perhaps the only toy a child might
own. The medium demands a clearness of purpose, of truly envisioned craft,
which explains their lasting appeal in an age of pixels and sound samples.
Knock on Wood
FunWheel from TAG Toys
Henessey Hardwood Swing Horse
Some of the most practical and beautiful toys made today take advantage
of the durability of wood. Such are the products at D & Me,
hand-crafted in Montana of mixed hard and soft woods and nontoxic toy
enamels. Their Klickety Klacker ($24.95) is created completely
of wooden parts and is sure to be loved by generations of toddlers.
Maine's family-owned Elves and Angels makes a solid
pine Play Canopy ($289) that's easily assembled and provides
the perfect backdrop for imaginative play, either indoors or out.
Quite inventive is Tag Toys P-1 FunWheel
($70), a 30 x 26 ferris wheel with swinging seats that will hold dolls
up to 8 inches tall. No toy room is complete without a Henessey
Hardwood Swing Horse ($5800), an heirloom-quality gliding rocking
horse available in black walnut, eastern hard maple, white or red oak.
Learning Materials' Design Set
Brio s Natural Blocks
Mission Design Wooden Easel from Little Tykes
Creative inspiration is the intent of Learning Materials Workshops
Buco Open-Ended Design Set ($79), which encourages children
6 and up to build post-modern architectural models using brilliantly-colored
hardwood blocks and dowels, fabrics, grommets and acrylic prisms.
For aspiring tower-makers, nothing could be finer than a 50-piece set
of Brios Natural Blocks
($24.99). For ages 2 to 6 with art on their minds, a Mission Design
Wooden Easel ($99.99) from Little Tykes Natural Interiors
is just the ticket. Choose either the chalkside or dry erase side, or
use the magnetic clips to secure paper for painting and drawing. Its
built to last and is a piece of artful design all by itself.
Writer's Bio: Karen Mendez Smith has been involved
in children's media for over twenty years as a literary agent, writer,
and creator of animated television and film. Co-founder of Satori Organics
and M/Path Press, she is a parent to eight children and five incredible
grandchildren (and counting).