Timeless Toys

When I go out looking for toys for my son, I want to find things that will become treasures.  For his first birthday he received from family a handmade wooden slide, a rocking boat that can serve as stairs and a small wheel barrow. His second birthday he received a wooden train table with storage drawers for his cars and trains and a small wooden kitchen. This year I am probably going to get him a wooden wagon.

What do these toys have in common? They are timeless… he will continue to enjoy them well into elementary school; they are sturdy and wooden and can stand the test of time; they encourage creativity and community and he (or his friends) are the ones making the action- not the toy.

A couple months ago, I cleaned out our playroom and threw out a big bag of broken plastic toys… I felt really yucky about all the waist and the process re-affirmed my belief that wooden toys really are better.  I also like simple toys that are contained so that pieces can’t get lost or broken making the toy unusable. Toys that can be used in a variety of ways offer children the opportunity to have an active imagination.

What does a plastic light-blinking and noise making toy do different? For one, it breaks, runs out of batteries, irritates mom (or dad),  only one child can push buttons at a time, so there’s more fighting and most of the time it only has one function. Most of these toys are designed only for a specific age-range and are either thrown out or put in storage or some are sold to other families through consignment stores (best option).

We still have wooden animals from when I was a little girl; these toys survived my brother and me; now my son plays with them. Fallen tree limbs can easily be made into blocks with different shapes and textures– making them magically versatile. Other great homemade toys use  sticks, pine cones, leaves, acorns, bark, fallen trees or whatever materials are easily available to you.

Maybe us green moms can commit to looking for timeless toys for our children. Perhaps we can take time to make something for our children; or find stores that have handmade items; or just be resolved to simplify our children’s playrooms and stay away from plastic, blinking, noise-makers.

See you back here next week for some more tips for timeless toys.

Which were your favorite toys as a child? Can you remember making a toy with an adult? What was it? How’d it turn out?

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Shannon Baer lives in semi-rural Rhode Island with her husband, son and a flock of chickens. She is excited to be a new member of the Green Team here at 5 Minutes for Going Green. Shannon shares her joy of (re)connecting children and nature at her blog Backyard Mama. 



7 Responses to Timeless Toys
  1. My Blogging History | Backyard Mama
    November 12, 2009 | 2:15 pm

    […] Tuesday Tours {on MM} I started contributing to 5 Minutes for Going Green. {And have a post Timeless Toys featured there […]

  2. Amy Whitley
    November 12, 2009 | 2:42 pm

    Oh, this is so true. I HATE plastic junk toys, and they’re so hard to avoid it seems. This year, my husband and I have vowed to buy fewer toys for the kids for Christmas, but make the ones we do buy more significant. When I say significant, I don’t mean in cost per se, but in durability and longevity. We’re selecting items that can grow with them and that will hopefully hold their interest for years instead of months.

    We still have the Red Flyer wagon we bought our oldest when he was 1. He’s now ten, and all the kids use it.

  3. Shannon
    November 12, 2009 | 3:01 pm

    Amy- I actually never thought it would be such an ordeal till now.. my son is so used to seeing his friends with all sorts of stuff- he thinks he needs it too- of course he does fine without it. And our playroom is beautiful. Thanks for the comment! Good luck with Xmas!

  4. Amber
    November 12, 2009 | 9:10 pm

    I never actually made any toys as a child that I remember. But as an adult I’ve been doing needle felting and making felted toys with my own 4-year-old. We’ve made play food, leaves, people, and more. It’s really affordable, uses natural materials, and is also surprisingly easy. I would totally recommend it.

    I feel the same way as you do about plastic toys, and am working to reduce the numbers that come into our home. So far, though, I haven’t made the leap to trying my own wooden toys.

  5. bekahcubed
    November 13, 2009 | 12:42 pm

    My favorite Christmas gift ever was a tent my mom made my siblings and I. She used scraps of fabric to create a tent that could slip over one of our tables. The tent had windows that could roll up and tie, a door that opened, and a grommet on top so we could raise a Tinker-toy flag out the top.

    Green toys are beyond good for the environment. They’re good for the imagination, good for the soul, and often good for the pocket-book.

    I wouldn’t trade those handcrafted toys for anything.

  6. marco antonio da curuz
    November 14, 2009 | 4:36 am

    bravo, aodrei bjs

  7. Daniel
    November 16, 2009 | 4:50 pm

    It is easy to go green. I got me a solar powered pool heater, and i love it, it saves me money and power!