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August 2003 | Vol. II - No. 8

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Klickety Klacker
from D & Me

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.

Wild Wood

Quite inventive is Tag Toys’ P-1 FunWheel (ToyShow Preview) ($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

Wood Art

Creative inspiration is the intent of Learning Materials Workshop’s award-winning (ToyDirectory) 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 Brio ’s Natural Blocks (ToyDirectory) ($24.99). For ages 2 to 6 with art on their minds, a Mission Design Wooden Easel ($99.99) from Little Tykes Natural Interiors Collection (ToyDirectory) is just the ticket. Choose either the chalkside or dry erase side, or use the magnetic clips to secure paper for painting and drawing. It’s 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).


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