Monday 10 December 2012
Before we even had children, we planned on keeping wooden toys and avoiding the plastic ones.
Not only is wood a more natural product, but the usual wooden toy designs tend more towards fostering creative play.
But it never happened the way we thought it would.
We weren't the only ones buying for the kids and so we ended up with quite a lot of plastic .
Though we found the kids didn't really play with the store-bought plastic toys.
Recently, we have begun to accumulate more woodworking tools.
Most of the tools we have bought to date have been geared towards home renovation tasks.
But our foray into homeschooling has re-introduced the importance of simple wooden toys in creative play.
So the tools are beginning to reflect a need for finished products for our home, including children's toys.
We have an abundance of wood on hand from various projects.
Some of it was simply waiting for the right tools to show up.
The introduction of a quality jigsaw to the home has opened up some fun new projects.
Simple two-dimensional figurines are easy to make.
So much so that we can include the kids in the process.
Today, we started with paper, pencils, and crayons.
We did one example to show the children what the process was and then turned it over to them.
It begins with a drawing of the desired figure.
For Auren, it was knight in armour.
For Fern, a pony.
They drew out what they wanted and then cut the shape from the paper.
Then Kira helped them trace the shape onto a piece of wood.
We had some scrap pine and some scavenged birch plywood that was perfect for the activity.
Once the shape was transposed to the wood, I cut the shape out.
When they're a bit older, they can do the cutting.
Auren is likely capable enough, but we kept his attention on the creative side for now.
Once the shape was cut, it was returned to the kids for colouring.
I tried melting the crayon into a piece with an iron, but it wasn't really necessary for this simple project so the remainder of the figurines were just coloured and then played with.
We were surprised at how eager they were to play with the toys.
Make-believe play with knight and dragon, using blocks for the castle.
And not just for a short time after making the toys.
Auren was playing with his for most of the afternoon and even wanted to take them into the bath with him.
We figured the plywood wouldn't survive untreated so he reluctantly set them aside until afterwards.
The desire to act out scenes and human interactions is so innate and undeniable in kids.
Lego has been great for dexterity, problem solving, and creative construction,
but tends to lack the make believe element somewhat.
The two-dimensional figures are about as plain as it gets, yet the kids are instantly absorbed into play that draws them away from reality and into a world of their own making.
We have plans for more elaborate wooden toys for ourselves and to share, but the lesson here may be to keep the complexity to a bare minimum.
Like a magic stone, all the kids need is a physical focal point to serve as a portal through which they find every imaginable person and creature they would ever need to play with.