Wooden toys have been around a lot longer than you may think.
Research suggests that the earliest wooden toys date from sometime during the Stone Age (2.9 million years ago-2030 BC). These toys were simplified models of implements of everyday use such as clubs, axes, bows and dolls, with the intention to teach children the critical survival and in Africa and were simple models of useful implements such as clubs, axes and bows as well as dolls. The intention was to teach children critical survival and family skills and as a secondary intention to entertain them.
Educational toys were created in England in 1700's with the advent of wooden alphabet blocks. The 18th century also saw the emergence of wooden sleds and carved miniature animals.
Small scale commercial manufacture of wooden toys began during the middle ages before industrial manufacture commencing in 1800's. This was seen in Germany and Northern Europe when wooden cars specifically fire engines and trolley cars became very popular. 1914 saw the invention of tinker toys which continued the educational toy example and produced toys where the child's imagination would be tested to create different objects
Different types of wooden toy
There are many different types of wooden toy each having their own additional purpose other than the enjoyment of playing with them.
Educational toys - Made with the purpose of the child learning something whilst using them. This could be counting, making words, following instructions or using imagination to create own ideas. Examples would include number/ letter blocks, abacus and tinker toys
Construction - Toys that are used to build objects promoting problem solving, imagination and creativity in the child. Examples including wooden blocks to build buildings, dolls houses or animals
Ride on - These toys are created with the function of the child being able to sit on and use the toy physically. This can promote physical health benefits as the child has to push themselves as well using balance and motor function. Cars and rocking horses are good examples of this type of toy
Pretend play toys - Toys that replicate situations in normal life. These give the child the chance to pretend to be an adult again promoting imagination. Workbenches, mini kitchen and wooden tools are examples
Benefits of wooden toys
Wooden toys have a number of benefits over their plastic counterparts
Less likely to break than plastic toys and wouldn't split leaving sharp edges sharp edges
Wood is a robust material, toys can end up being passed down through generations
Wooden toys do not have electronics or voice commands leaving the child to imagine and work out what to use the toy for. Many wooden toys are designed with this purpose
Wooden toys are normally heavier than plastic ones requiring more awareness to use and promoting greater development of motor skills
How wooden toys are made