Wooden Toys — by Guest Mom Rebecca Bingham

March 8, 2007

I love wooden toys. I will take a wooden and mute toy over plastic, talking and blinking one any day. I love that it makes my kids use their imaginations. I hate that they make great projectiles. I love that they carry a sense of permanence that the plastic ones don’t. I can almost make myself believe that if they toys are built to last a long time, the kids just might stay little enough to play with them forever. I still really hate that my son can do serious damage with them. We have plenty of toys that light up and talk around our house, but they don’t always manage to survive the quarterly toy “editing” process like the wooden ones do.

There is a really great store here in Palo Alto called The Playstore. It is full of wonderful wooden toys. Whenever I go in there I wish that I had more of Design Mom’s great toy storage in my house. I could buy EVERYTHING in here and have to limit myself. Our favorite thing is this rainbow. It is much bigger than it looks in the picture. There is also a less expensive and smaller version. We also love these rattles for the baby. My two year old, Cubby, is obsessed with these beads. The Playstore does ship, but most towns have some sort of wooden toy store. I bet there is one near you.

If you don’t manage to find a store near you, you can always
try Ikea.

Or Target. They carry Melissa and Doug toys now.

Or Back to Basic’s Toys.

Did I miss anything? Does anyone have a great wooden toy find?

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Girl con Queso March 8, 2007 at 7:56 am

I love wooden toys, but they are so hard to find! That rainbow is cool, and the Hurricane would love those beads! Thanks for the finds!


2 compulsive writer March 8, 2007 at 8:46 am

Aren’t pretend food toys so much fun? I love watching little kids prepare healthy plates of donuts and a banana and politely serve one another. Usually the plastic stuff gets all chewed up–wooden ones would be perfect!


3 Leisha March 8, 2007 at 9:22 am

This line was brilliant! “I can almost make myself believe that if they toys are built to last a long time, the kids just might stay little enough to play with them forever.” I totally got teary-eyed! We love wooden toys too (esp. play food) but the projectile dilemma is always forefront in my mind!


4 Bek March 8, 2007 at 11:23 am

Projectiles are ALWYAS an issue in our house too Leisha….

The rainbow is the BEST. ALL kids should have one, it stacks, it becomes a tunnel… best toy ever..

CW–I have seen the same thing. The plastic ones get chewed on all day…. good point.


5 rebecca March 8, 2007 at 11:45 am

I think our basic wooden blocks are the most used toys in the house– we build parking lots, race tracks, marble runs, castles, animals houses, etc. You get the idea. It’s definitely worth the investment to get a good set of blocks!


6 michelle March 8, 2007 at 12:01 pm

Land of Nod has excellent wooden toys and for a great price.


7 Bek March 8, 2007 at 12:36 pm

I got some at IKEA a few years ago (and they don’t have them in the US anymore). I painted each shape a different color and we STILL use them the most. I think that every child needs wooden blocks.

Back to Basics toys has a huge set for about 100$. That is a lot, but you really will have them forever. THanks for the Land of Nod tip…


8 Micaela March 8, 2007 at 12:38 pm

Plan Toys is another great brand of wooden toys. I find them at specialty kids stores. Here’s a link to their website: http://www.plantoys.com/homepage_th.html
We’ve got the wooden fruit and vegetables – they are a blast!


9 lisa v. clark March 8, 2007 at 1:04 pm

Wooden blocks are what caused the hundreds of tiny dents (on the bottom half) of our condo walls. I guess every childhood memory has its price.


10 julie March 8, 2007 at 1:45 pm

My son just had a birthday and we bought him a wooden marble run called the Quadrilla twist set; I highly recommend it!


11 tracy m March 8, 2007 at 1:51 pm

Here are some great suggestions for wooden toys:

Haist Spiel & Play (rainbow tunnel and other really cool things)
NIC (cars, vehicles and ride-ons)
Ostheimer Spielzeug (hand carved wooden figures of every conceivable kind)
Maple Landmark (Amercian made wooden railroad)
Elves and Angels (wooden kitchens, playstands and house things)
Kinderkram (wide variety of wooden things, mostly from Germany, but available here)


12 Design Mom March 8, 2007 at 2:06 pm

Another excellent post, Bek.

I too am a wooden toys fan. My favorite ever is a little elepant that walks down a ramp. It’s made in Prague. I blogged about it last July (I think) when I first started this blog.

And Tracy, thanks for the company name sources. I love seeing who actually produces this stuff.


13 tracy m March 8, 2007 at 2:19 pm

PS- also, for an American distributor of many fabulous Europen wooden lines, try NOVA natural toys. She accepts internet orders…


14 Bek March 8, 2007 at 2:25 pm

I knew Tracy M would have input on this….

When I was in Italy last year I was very excited to go see the “wooden toy store” that our host kept telling us about but it really didn’t do anything for me. I hear that you have to check out the German toys (Tracy confirms that).

Lisa, you are correct about the destruction factor. That is the trade off. So far we have escaped major damage, but I also don’t leave them out where Cubby can get to them…. the are a “supervised” toys…. kind of…


15 laurie March 8, 2007 at 2:44 pm

Oh yes. I love wooden toys. Thanks for bringing this up, Bek!

I recently discovered Oompa Toys. Great website, huge selection. Lots of wooden toys.

Also, a favorite favorite is Magic Cabin. We’ve bought lots from them over the years, including this fabulous wooden sandbox which has held up beautifully for 2 1/2 years. And they have your nesting rainbows, Bek!

But my very all time most favorite wooden toy is this set of Cherry Tree Blocks. They are gorgeous. And fun to play with. And lovely to hold. And they totally inspire my 4-yr-old daughters to create similar structures in the real live outdoors (imagine that!).

Hooray for Bek! You’re rockin the house this week!


16 tracy m March 8, 2007 at 2:54 pm

If you like the cherry tree blocks, there is a company called Glueckskaefer (means “ladybug”) that makes doll furniture out of cherry and other fruit tree branches. Incredibly cute. I don’t have the links, but if you google…


17 tracy m March 8, 2007 at 2:57 pm

Bek- not meaning to hijack your thread here- forgive me from chiming in, but this is something I know a lot about… ;)

One word of caution about Magic Cabin (they have some nice things, and I purchage from them…) but occasionally they find cool German toys, and instead of selling the real thing, the make a knock-off in China and see it. So make sure they give the country of origin when you buy from them. My $0.02 worth, if you care about fair labor and stuff like that.


18 wendysue March 8, 2007 at 3:17 pm

Love those! AND I will say that wooden puzzles are my absolute fav. When we visit my Mom, she pulls out all the ones we had when I was little for the grandkids. . .still in great shape!!


19 Bek March 8, 2007 at 5:47 pm

I love the Cherry Tree blocks…. great tip..

Also, I just found out that Tracy M (both a blog friend AND a face friend) used to manage that store that I linked to and was their BUYER for year (she went to Germany to pick the toys…and apparently she wrote their catalouge!!!!). So, if we have any questions about wooden toys from here on out we ask her!!!

Irony–she doesn’t live anywhere near me any more (a few states over in fact) and I didn’t know this until I wrote this post…. that is blogging for you..

Laurie–THANK YOU!! We each deserve to be told we rock at least once a week… :-)


20 Adriana March 9, 2007 at 10:55 am

Rebecca, I’m so glad you were a guest blogger — I’ve loved your posts!

Our neighborhood is LOADED with toy stores with wooden toys. Before I had Jasper I had romantic notions of buying only beautiful, hand-made in some forest by elves wooden toys. 1000 little plastic pieces later the wooden toys are stuggling for shelf space in our home (how to compete with Buzz Lightyear, Wonder Woman, and Legos?).

But my favorite wooden toy find of late is the Automoblox car — its a wooden car you can take apart like a puzzle. Even better, the parts are all interchangeable with other Automoblox cars –that is, if you don’t mind paying $35+ for a toy car. We’re still working up to that 2nd car.


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