Wooden Toys for Kids
I grew up with lots of different types of toys. Both wooden dominos and plastic. I had metal die-cast cars and yes, I even had some wooden cars. Plastic Legos as well as wooden blocks. However, growing up in the 80's most of my toys were made of plastic. I loved toys for sure but as I look back, I enjoyed metal and wood toys the best. There was something about the weight, the quality and sheer durability that put them on my top ten list every year. Wooden toys for kids are such good quality in fact, that I still have many of them today in a box somewhere.
What does all this have to do with music you may ask? It's simple, most, if not all instruments, save a few, are made up of wood and metal. Take a piano for instance, beautifully crafted wood and 88 steel strings tensed and tuned to perfection. Clarinets, oboes, saxophones,(if you include the reed), marimbas, guitars, drums, and even xylophones. Such quality construction is certainly part of the reason that certain instruments have lasted for hundreds of years.
Wooden Toys For Special Needs
With so many kids in the special needs community dealing with sensory issues, it is critical to make available as many toys with natural materials. In my years as a music therapist, I have noticed that often, kids with autism are particular about the types of toys that they play with. It can vary from a specific texture on the surface of a toy to a particular type of toy. Each child is unique and responds differently to each situation. When it comes to musical instruments, many children with disabilities are drawn to the sound that they make and more importantly, the sounds that they can personally make. The better constructed the toy, the longer it will last for them. Many parents share the joy that finding that perfect toy for their child has for them. Having those toys last a long time is a great quality.
Wood Toys Over Plastic
There has been a growing trend for wooden toys in the past ten years. Even wooden LEGO blocks are available now. That's actually pretty neat. Environmentally friendly and extremely cool to boot. Waldorf education uses only toys made with natural materials. The idea is to keep the toys simple, encouraging a child's open-ended play. I ascribe to this philosophy. While I don't oppose the use are inclusion of plastic in a child's toy, I feel that the better it is constructed of better materials, the more it will last. Even the experience I feel will be a better one for the child.
Wooden Toys Last a Long Time
When it comes to toys, kids tend to be rough on their toys and other educational materials. Wooden and well constructed toys tend to last practically a lifetime. They are sometimes even passed down through generations. Instruments, tend to fall into this category. They last for years and years and if they are not sold for some reason, they are usually given to the next generation to enjoy.
That is why I wanted out Color Me Mozart™ xylophone to be constructed with quality materials. I wanted each note be tuned perfectly and the wood to feel solid. Most importantly, I wanted it to stand the tumble and rumble of a toddler and young child. Whether it was the perfect toy for a toddler or a way for a kid to learn the foundations of music, I wanted it to last for years to come.
Perhaps I am a little biased when it comes to wooden toys for kids because loving music so much, instruments fall heavily into that category. However, I feel as a whole that the benefits of wooden toys are many. Blocks help kids learn tactile play and how to use their imagination to build structures that only exist in their mind. Just as with notes, wooden blocks for instance give kids basic ideas and leave the creating up to them. The music is literally inside the instrument, however it is up to that child to bring it out.
Does a drum play itself? An iPad on the other hand does all the creating for them. I have nothing against using technology for education. I am, at this very moment, writing this on my laptop so clearly I am all for technology. What I am not a fan is letting technology do all the teaching. A healthy balance I feel is ideal. Education toys that inspire your kids to create need their fair share of representation in your toy box.
As always, whatever your kids play with, make sure it inspires them and you to create things!