Has Technology Replaced the Educational Values of Real Life Wooden Toys?



For 18 months now, Little Wooden Toybox has now been selling wooden toys and educational resources to families and educators of all backgrounds including low and high socio-economic areas, special needs, day cares, therapists, young parents, older parents, grandparents and everything in between.

What disturbs me greatly is the increasing number of comments relating to wooden toys as ‘baby toys’.

My question is, has technology replaced the good old educational values of real life wooden toys? Are our 2-6 year olds playing with too much technology, and not enough of the things we did when we were growing up? Is creating a tune on an iPad the same banging away at a real life Xylophone? Is tapping away on a computer the same as ‘beating the crap’ out of a Pound a Ball Tower?

For that matter, what is the educational value of a Pound a Ball Tower? Isn’t it just a hammer & balls with pretty paint? Yes but it is much more than that. By pounding away at this toy, children learn… 
Cause & Effect: That is, if they take action, something will result from this action. If a child hits the  ball with the hammer, the ball will fall and tumble down the spiral stairs. If they hit their finger, it will hurt! If they pick the ball up and put it back at the top, they can start again; if they don’t, it will roll away.
Sensory Stimulation – Touch: Children are physically making this toy work, not just pressing a button. Trust me this toy is good for stress relief as the balls don’t go through easily!
Gross Motor Skills: Children have to use a hand to hold the tower and an arm/hand to pound the balls with the hammer. If the child misses the ball, the ball won’t move. Children need to gauge how hard to hit the ball too. If they do not hit hard enough, the ball won’t move. 
Hand-Eye Coordination: This toy also helps develop the coordination between the hands and eyes. The eyes see the target (ball) and the hands need to match and actually hit the target. 
Auditory Stimulation (hearing): Listen to the balls as they fall down. It is hard to beat the ‘natural’ sound wooden toys make that differ so greatly to all the electronic noises around us.

Moving on, why is it that a 4-6 year old will still happily play with this toy, yet parents consistently tell children off for playing with a ‘baby’s toy’? We hear this daily! Is this really a baby’s toy? Yes, the recommend age is for 2 years and up and it does have excellent educational values for a toddler, but I believe many wooden toys, including this one, have educational values for children that are much older.

Are we as parents forcing our children to grow up too quickly? Does the push of technology make us buy toys for our children that are sold as more age appropriate? Are they really more age appropriate?

Recently an older boy was playing in the LWT shop with a wooden truck and the parents said “You don’t like that, you like remote controlled cars.” The boy may well have liked remote controlled cars, but are we as parents forcing these decisions needlessly on our children? When did it become more socially acceptable for a child to have a remote controlled car at 6 years old, instead of a push along truck? Is it more socially acceptable?

Or are these comments by parents simply a case of distracting the child and and easy excuse to move on to the next shop? (Completely understandable)
Are we in a hurry and say what is easiest at the time? (Again been there, done that)
Will an older child genuinely lose interest in a wooden toy compared to a remote controlled one? Is there a place in your home for both?
Is cost an issue with wooden toys compared to plastic with electronics? Are electronic toys viewed as ‘doing more’ and therefore more value for money?
Is it easier in our busy lives to sit a child in front of an iPad instead of an interactive ‘basic’ toy?
Is it simply too noisy!!?!? hehe

I encourage you to think about the educational value of simple wooden toys, remembering skills learnt through play (without lights, buttons, batteries etc) including…

Motor Skills
Motor Skills
& Speech Development
& Sound – rhythm, beat, tone, pitch
& Affect
Creative Thinking
Creative Play

 What educational values can you see in this toy? What age child would you recommend this for?

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