Handmade Natural Wooden Toys

Hello and welcome to The Treasure Baskets, a page dedicated to supporting play for children through the use of natural and recycled materials.

I would like to introduce the idea of an alternative solution to plastic disposable toys. Natural wooden handmade toys for children. I would like to take the time to explain my own views on why


Threading wood slices

I believe these could be beneficial to children, their learning experiences and the environment. These are my own creations but there are many other products out there and the potential for many more.

 

Wood toys handmade and organic

We are living in a world where people are becoming more and more aware of our need to reduce waste and to look at alternatives to throw away, inorganic products.

We also spend money on things that are not made to last, that break easily and cannot be fixed. They have limited use and then end up in a landfill somewhere.

I began making more of these types of resources when I moved close to the coast. The most beautiful pieces of driftwood were in abundant supply and I could see so many possibilities amongst the piles of wood half buried in sand.

I saw a solution to the problem, replacing the plastic with a natural, organic alternative. To create something useful, and educational for children while doing my bit to ‘save the planet’.

Threading set

Natural wood threading and stacking sets

My first attempts at creating these handmade wooden toys, were a very simple concept. I thought about the age group that I was working with at the time and how I could tailor these resources to meet their physical developmental needs, while still making them inviting. (Most resources or toys were designed to be used in limited ways and children quickly lost interest in them.)

Most were at a stage at the age of three and four years where they were learning to hold pencils, undo buttons and struggling with some of their fine motor skills. However, they were fantatsic young problem solvers always up for a challenge. and I saw an opportunity.

I began making threading sets initially out of wood slices and added shells and pumice, for children to practice and fine tune some of those fine motor skills and hand -eye coordination.

These were very successful with most children mastering the ability to pass the threading material (usually a shoe lace) through the holes very well.

Along with these I also created some threading sticks of various sizes designed for little hands. These were interesting pieces of driftwood of varying colour and texture, sanded with holes drilled though at different angles. They were popular and not just for threading!

Warning! Supervision required! With the imagination of some our wonderfully energetic darlings, they became swords, wands and all sorts of other things.

The younger children that wanted to try, found it a little more difficult, but they really wanted to be involved, so rather than have them become frustrated, I came up with a new resource along the same lines that was very simple but effective.

I created a very basic stacking toy that resembled a small tree branch that curtain rings, bracelets and other similar sized objects could be dropped over easily. (You could also use recycled coffee mug trees.)

Stacking tree and Threading tree

Our infants and toddlers loved this and spent lots of time placing all the different objects on the “stacking tree” as I named it and then tipping them off again. I noticed that they also began sorting the rings, lining them up and grouping them, and trying to eat them.

After much observation it became clear that our older children needed more of a challenge. So back to the drawing board to search for a way to extend on the resources, which I have included in the photographs here. A more sophisticated stacking toy and small wood slice threaders.

 

I have experimented with and produced a number of toys and resources using natural driftwood but have concentrated mainly on the stacking and threading varieties in this post.

Open ended resources

The ideas behind some of these resources are naturally to support children’s learning and development, however they are also meeting the need for children to explore and to create their own ideas and ways of using them as well as being environmentally friendly.

Hence the various use like swords. They are not designed entirely for one purpose as with the toddlers grouping, sorting and lining them up. They are this stage of development of stacking, tipping, sorting and eating everything.

Natural construction sets are wonderful for this type of play with children as they can be used in whatever way the child feels inclined. There are no limitations, no instructions and no expectations.

Construction set

The Benefits

These natural wooden resources have many benefits for children. By being exposed to natural materials and manipulative play, children:

  •  develop and extend their cogniitve and fine motor skills
  • learn problem-solving abilities
  • are exposed to sensory and tactile experiences
  • develop an understanding and appreciation of nature and what it can provide
  • use their imagination and creativity

This could also lead to an interest in where the materials come from and result in some wonderful excursions in search of new ideas and resources.

Threading sticks

Conclusion

There are many ways for us to provide rich and stimulating learning experiences for our children without breaking the bank and cluttering up those landfills. Just imagine if you replaced the resources in your settings with natural substitutes, how beautiful and serene your environment would be.

It would also reflect the message you trying to share with the next generation. There are many settings already doing this and it is amazing how different they all are.

I have seen some truly inspiring centres of innovation that are working towards this type of philosophy and that is one of the things that ignites my passion for what I do.

I have several new projects I am working on that I cant wait to share with you all, and would love to see some of you natural settings and environments. If you would like to share, just drop me a line, if I’ not here I’m at the beach.

Bye for now!

If you would like to see more posts like this please leave a comment below.

Cass

 

 

 

 

48 Replies to “Handmade Natural Wooden Toys”

  1. Hi Cass
    Another awesome post you have written Cass and I wish my grandies were a little younger as this would be perfect.
    I’m just glad you are also creating more learning treasures for 3-5-year-olds and I will be in touch soon to organize Xmas pressies

  2. Hello, really enjoyed reading this Crafty article.

    As a grandmother of two, keeping them entertained is a challenge. Arts and crafts is good for young children as it develops the mind.

    And my gradeschool children can pitch in as they love arts and crafts projects. Natural wooden homemade toys is definitely be a treasure basket for young ones.

    1. Thankyou Lakesha, I am happy that you enjoyed the article and it is my hope that by sharing my own passion for my craft it will inspire others. Regards Cassandra

  3. Wonderful creation. You give me idea dear, why didn’t i think about it before? from woods we can create many toys for our children. I am a teacher in nursery school ,with your post i find many ideas coming in my mind about wooden toys. Thank you for sharing with us such innovative materials.

    I will be coming back to check other new creative work of yours.

    1. Hello Julienne,  I really enjoy giving inspiration to other educators and I would be honoured if you continued to follow my posts. Please feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you have created. Where are you based, what country? I would love to compare some ideas. Do you follow a forest philosophy? 

      Looking forward to hearing from you again.

      Regards Cassandra

  4. Hi and what a cool piece of content you offer. I agree kids could do well to do this with their parents as it’s a bonding session and a different distraction from video games and television. What would you say is a good age for kids to start this? Thanks Kenny 

    1. Hi Kenny, thanks for your feedback, I personally offer all my resources to children from babies up to about the age of seven or eight. Because I work with this age group as an educator, I am able to see what works and what dosent. Drop by anytime if you have any questions thanks.😊

      Cass

  5. This is a very inspiring Article, after reading a second time, I am motivated to find driftwood and start some Art and crafts projects of my own, with the children of course, because hands on crafts can also help Adults develop new skills.

    It’s funny, I’m up at 4am ready to research driftwood. L O L. I am wondering about pricing of driftwood, in my area, will it be expensive? I don’t know anywhere off hand to even get any driftwood, in my city but I am sure I’ll fnd some. 

     Lakesha 

    1. Thanks Lakesha, There is sure to be somewhere near you that has something you can work with. If not I am hoping to be able to locate some worldwide suppliers of a variety of natural items that you may be able to tap into. So don’t give up and keep checking in with me and we will see what we can make happen.

      Cheers Cassandra

  6. I liked your idea, you were so creative, that’s awesome. The problem is most people when thinking of kids toys and learning resources, the first thing that comes into their mind are Toy-Shops or something of that nature. The most painful part is, the toys and learning materials we buy from those shops won’t even last 24 hours. I have myself spend unnecessary large amounts of money buying my children plastic reading material only to throw them away on the same day I bought them. pretty frustrating.

    I love your idea of making natural wood threading and stacking sets, they are both strong and environmentally friendly.

    I would love to buy sets like the one you make, the problem is that they are  not available in my town.

    1. Hello Ngonidzashe,  I do sell my own products however because there are laws and regulations around raw natural materials being shipped, I cannot sell out my country. However the good news is that I am currently researching similar products around the world that may be able to cater to yours and others needs. I will be adding these contacts to my we page soon. There may be hope for you yet😀 stay in touch.

      Regards Cassandra

  7. Hi Cass – what a great aritcle.  I have a 6 yo and he, thanks to older sisters and over generous grandparents, has so many toys that he has lost the ability to really care for them.  However, I have noticed lately that he is actually spending a lot of time doing the sort of things you talk about in this article.  We live at the beach so our house is always full of sticks, pummicestone, rocks, shells and anything else he finds on there (some I think might have been alive based on the smells out the back at certain times).

    I have actually noticed as he verbalises what he is doing with them how much it really does help his cognitive and problem solving skills.  I cannot agree with you enough how much this is beneficial to him and other kids.  Especially in this age of xboxes and playstations.  

    I have shown him this site and he is already wokring out how to make things from the pictures…  although my wife did have a little heart skip when he went hunting for my drill for the holes.. haha

    Thanks again.. Paul

    1. Hi Paul, That is wonderful, I have 5 grandsons and could picture your 6 yr old instantly when you mentioned the drill. I am still laughing. Perhaps you could get hold of one of those old fashioned hand drills for him? I found one for a group of 3 and 4 year olds and after some tuition they were able to work independently with it. Thanks for checking out my post ad please feel free to visit with your son any time. Cheers Cass

  8. I absolutely love these handmade wooden toys they look beautiful!! You just never see anything this nice in the shops or on Amazon so my kids have far more standard toys. They did play with a construction set a lot like the one in your picture when we were in Vietnam. they really enjoyed laying with it and it seems to spark the imagination better than uniform plastic bricks. 

    1. Hi there Chris,thanks for your comments. I think children love the way they can create anything with the natural materials as they are not limited in what the objects like plastic bricks are designed for. I appreciate you stopping in and taking the time to read my article. Regards Cass

  9. This is really cool. I have been working with my hands almost my entire life whether that be fixing cars, creating sculptures, or fixing things around the house. I am currently retired and I be so bored just sitting at home so I have decided to take new hobby that I might be interested in.

    That is why I am so glad I came across this article. it is exactly what I needed. I live in the country so there is nothing but wood around me and I can start a collection with wooden toys. Great article, very helpful.

    1. Thank you for your feedback Garrett, I am glad that my ideas were helpful and have given you some inspiration. Best of luck with your new project. Cheers Cass

  10. What a very cool and different idea for toys.  I really like the Threading Sticks. I love finding gifts that are not traditional, it really helps children to use their minds and be creative.  Along with the benefit of being a natural product, this is just a very unique gift that will not soon be forgotten. How long have you been making these toys?  Good for you, finding a solution to a problem, and a very creative solution at that.  I commend you for your efforts here.  Keep up the good work. I will be sure to check back and see what other great ideas you have come up with.

    1. Hi Steve , Thanks for stopping by. The threading sticks are also a favourite of mine. I have bee working on most of these ideas and creations for the past two years and i am coming up with new ideas all the time as a result of ‘finding solutions’. Please do check back anytime.

      Cheers Cassandra

  11. How fun to be able to make these natural wooden toys. I love all the toys that are pictured, but I especially love the necklace.  My grandkids would adore these toys, and how awesome they are made from natural resources and are educational. 

    I like buying my grandchildren educational toys because they lose interest so quickly in the latest, shiniest toy that they think they want. I can see them loving the stacking and threading trees and sticks. I honestly think it’s wonderful what you’re doing by creating these amazing toys. Good for you!

    1. Thankyou Holly, i am sure your grandchildren would enjoy these toys. They are designed for a variety of ages too. I love to see how children react to natural materials as apposed to plastic and the joy they get from something different. Please feel free to share this with others who might find this of interest.

      Cheers Cassandra

  12. Hey Cass beautiful art work.  I really enjoyed the Natural Wooden Toys Handmade.  I wish most people would think about the environment and use these beautiful natural wooden toys handmade.  Please continue your passion and many people will come and love it as I do.  Try to promote it in farmers market.

    1. Hi there Clement, thank you so much, i am going to be putting up a sequel to this soon so keep an eye out for it. Thanks for the tip , I will look into that. Have a great night. Cheers Cass

  13. What a wonderful idea to replace plastic toys with natural wooden toys. There are far too much plastic destroying the natural eco sytem. I trust and hope that websites such as yours will raise awareness to  use and my natural wooden toys. I would love to see this in nursery schools, and homes where children can be creative and make their own toys

    1. Hi there Richard, I must check out your wooden toys and I too hope that it raises an awareness too. All the best with your venture, and thanks for popping in. Cheers Cass

  14. Awesome ideas Cass, you know, I run a daycare, with children from 4-12 years of age, and I am always on the lookout for cheap material DIY stuff to keep the kids busy during rainy days. Some of them can handle a drilling machine themselves, some need a hand with it. They would really love this! Thanks!

    Loes

    1. Thank you Loes, rainy days are the worst:) I am so glad you found something helpful in my post and please visit anytime for new ideas. Oh and I just added a short video clip of my favourite treasures on the post. did you happen to notice the link for it? Cheers Cass

  15. I got your point plastic vs wood. I think wooden toys would feel cozier in a child’s hands to play. I bet it is not an easy way to create those alternative toys in comparison to our competitive toys market today. But it is joyful that someone cares and tries to create something good and valuable to others. We forgot so much about simple things over the past century. Thanks for an inspiration and a great topic. 

    1. Thankyou Tomas, I find great joy and comfort in knowing that these are appreciated and provide children with more than just entertainment but a true learning experience. Cheers for commenting, Cass.

  16. This looks so beautiful. Very great post and I already know who I can make happy with it.

    My mother in law loves to creates these kind of things, especially when it is about the wooden necklaces.

    I’m very happy I stumbled across your post and I’m going to send this to her.

    Thanks for sharing it with us!

    1. Thankyou Emmanuel, I hope she enjoys it and can find something in there that inspires her creativity. I appreciate you dropping by and taking the time to read my post. Have a great day, Cheers Cassandra

  17. You are right that wooden, and some other natural materials for toys are one of the best ways to teach our children for goodness. 

    I have made different things of wood and stones for my kids. Usually, I do it together and even give them a small saw, a hammer with nails and even a planer.

     There are so many plastic wastes around which spoils our beautiful planet.

    1. Hi there, thanks for stopping by and sharing your own experiences. The more people that look at the natural options the less waste we will have. Thanks for contributing to that and I hope you continue to enjoy teacing your children. Cass

  18. I love this idea! My daughter is 4 years old and the kindergarten she goes to is very much focused on sustainability and using natural materials like this to make things out of. It is actually one of the main reasons I chose for her to go to this kindergarten because they are very focused on the natural environment, have an open door policy and always encourage ing the kinds to go out and do something creative with the materials they have.  However, I sometimes wonder if the materials lack colour in some way-given that kids like bright colours (especially babies). Have you thought about perhaps using some natural paints in some way to brighten things up a little? Or do you not feel it is needed?

    1. Hi Liz, that’s a really good question. I believe there is so much colour in everything else around them that it can actually detract from the natural experience by adding colour. Another thing to consider, is exploring the different hues of colour within the natural wood itself. You can use the experience to investigate the grains and textures. It tells a story about where its from and the feel and smell of the wood is also a sensory experience. Just some food for thought. It sounds like a wonderful kindergarten and I appreciate you popping in and sharing. Please feel free to stop in again with any questions or your ideas.

      Cheers Cass

  19. Hello Cass,

    You are such a creative person. You just remind me of when I was a kid. Our parents were not rich enough to buy us expensive toys buy they were so creative to make for us some good toys and we really liked them a lot. Sometimes, is not all about spending money but our creativity can us also help us to save cash.

    1. Thank you Solomon for stopping by and for your kind words. I love to hear that people are reminded of their childhood when they read these posts and hope they are inspired to be creative. And yes it does help to save our money as well. Thanks for your comment and stop by anytime. Cass

  20. Great article once again Cass! Absolutely agree with you. Since discovering your site, my 2-year old has been playing with twitches and sticks he finds in our backyard and he loves to take a walk in the nearby woods with me.

    When we go out for walks we make it a game in finding things to bring home and play around with. I’ve got a basket and he has his little basket and it’s always fun.

    Back at home he can’t wait to unload the baskets and tinker with all this stuff. He barely touches his other toys anymore…

    1. Hi Laura, that is wonderful! I absolutely love to hear how children enjoy their discoveries. Thank you so much for commenting and feel free to continude sharing these little gems here. Cheers Cass

  21. The toys you create are art masterpieces.  I am so excited to try my hand at making some of these absolutely beautiful pieces for my beautiful granddaughter and grandson.  I was disappointed not to find a store where you were selling the items.  Did you ever think of selling them?  I have a drill, so I have to see what bits I would need to make the holes.  I want to do the threading idea.  My granddaughter, especially, is so delicate and just loves little things and little busy work, and that threading one would be right up her alley!

    I love your website.  I’m so glad I found it.

    1. Hello Babsie, Sorry to disappoint you, unfortunately I am only able to sell locally because of the type of natural materials I use. However I am searching for places that may sell similar type products globally that I can send people to. I have found that most little girls do indeed enjoy the threading type activities and I hope you are able to create some wonderful toys for your grandchildren. Thank you for your lovely comments and please feel free to pop in anytime.

      Cass

  22. Dear Cassandra,

    Thanks for the informative post on Handmade Natural Wooden Toys.

    Natural wooden handmade toys for children is definitely a great thing compared to plastic toys. I am amazed to see your creativity and the products you created. Great job!

    I got new insights from your post and also planning to avoid plastic toys to my child and go with wooden toys. Indeed wooden toys will provide rich and stimulating learning experiences for our children no doubt.

    Wishing you great success!

    Paul

    1. Hi there Paul and thanks for dropping by. I am sure your little one will get loads of enjoyment and learning from wooden toys. Thanks for your kind words of encouragement.  Cheers Cass

  23. Your site is filled with some brilliant ideas, Cass. I loved reading through your suggestions. They speak of a time when we used to collect natural materials to make our own amusements.

    (And it was not that long ago!)

    Your gift-making ideas brings back the simplicity of gift-giving and the enjoyment of crafting something from your own little spark of creativity.

    I love it! With more articles, I’ll become addicted to your site!

    Please keep up your lovely work here 🙂

    1. Thanks Cath, I certainly hope you will become addicted:) I love to share my creativity with others. It gives me so much pleasure to others enjoy my posts. Drop by anytime. Cass

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