The History of Wooden Toys


The history of wooden toys

There’s undeniably something wonderful thinking that our children are playing with the same traditional wooden toys we did as children. Wooden building blocks and stacking toys, little wooden cars and beautiful dolls houses. Some of these may have been bought new, some may have been saved in the attic, but the sentiment is the same.

Personally when I watch a toddler, stacking blocks, figuring out how they balance and developing their fine motor and problem-solving skills I imagine that this is the way children have learned and played since the beginning of time.

So how long have children been playing with wooden toys?

Well as it turns out if you look into the history of wooden toys you find out that wooden toys have been around since Greek and Roman times. And what’s even better is that they were playing with similar toys to those kids love today. Little dolls, horses and chariots.

An image of an ancient Greek wooden toy horse with wheels found in a tomb dating between 950-900 BC is remarkably similar to the pull-along toys we sell today.

Some of the earliest toys ever found were rattles from over 3000 years ago, and it’s funny to think that despite all our technological advances rattles remain one of the most popular toys for early childhood.

Perhaps this is because although we have discovered so many things and learnt so much over the last 3000 years, fundamentally, at a base level we haven’t really changed. The way we learn as children, the way our brains develop and the way we play remains the same. A great reason to choose wooden toys over screens and plastic.

Wooden toys in more recent history

By the 1700's German toy makers started manufacturing toys to sell to the public which became more and more elaborate and intricate as the years went by. Think wooden dolls houses, miniature theatres, and brightly painted jack in the box.

By the 19th century factory-made toys were widely available including wooden train sets, toy soldiers, rocking horses, puzzles, dolls houses and Noah's arks. Apparently, some children were not allowed toys on Sunday other than Noah’s ark as it appeared in the bible.

It wasn’t until after the war that the popularity of wooden toys began to decline as cheap plastics allowed toys to be mass-produced at much lower costs. Thankfully however wooden toys are making a comeback. Not only due to a greater awareness of the environmental impact of plastic but the fact that simple open-ended toys teach children in ways that electronic plastic toys just can’t.

So if you have a collection of wooden toys that will one day be passed on to other children and hopefully future generations, have a look at our blog on how best to store wooden toys and keep them at their best.

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