Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Wooden Toys from IKEA

Before Tate's arrival, Henry and I took a trip to IKEA to purchase some fabric to make a new bed for Hoss. His old one finally bit the dust after five years.
I struggle to walk through stores like IKEA and Target without finding things that I suddenly "need," even though they weren't on my original list. That's why I try to avoid shopping as much as possible!
However, I love the two toys we bought and wanted to share them with you.
First, I bought Henry a train set. There were four different boxes with various pieces (for about $10 each), so we bought all four. Together, they create a varied and comprehensive set. It includes pieces to make bridges, straight pieces, curved pieces, tunnels, and forked pieces. I love that the toy gets constructed in new ways every time and that the variations are seemingly endless! Sometimes we make small loops of a track and other times we twist it all around the living room. I also love the "control of error" that is inherent in the toy. In other words, it's very easy for Henry to tell when he's made a mistake and when he's corrected the mistake. For example, most of the pieces only have tracks on one side. If he sets it up the wrong way, the train won't lock into the track and he knows to flip it over. Also, there are very specific ways that the pieces connect to each other, so he knows to try a different piece it they aren't lining up.
Also, the train cars are magnetic, so some ends repel each other, while the opposite ends attract. Henry has to use problem-solving to figure out how to get the trains to connect.
Further, it's a toy that requires care and attention. Henry has to manually push the train around the track and it will sometimes slip off. He has to pay attention to when that happens and then fix it.
Further, I love that it's a "big" toy that breaks down into small pieces that fit within a basket on the shelf. It helps our house feel organized rather than cluttered and chaotic. Plus, I find the wood material and the colors simply beautiful.
It's definitely a big hit around our house! Not only does he enjoy it, he also learns a ton from playing with it. He learns patience and delayed gratification as he constructs the tracks. He learns persistence and problem-solving when he encounters glitches that need to be solved. He internalizes pride and self-confidence when he successfully sets up and plays with this toy.
According to Montessori theory, children essentially construct their personalities in the first six years of life. It feels good to provide Henry with experiences that will have a positive impact on his development!
The other toy we purchased was for Tate. For something like $8, we got a simple wooden bead toy. It will look beautiful on the shelf of his nursery (when we finally move and get it set up for him), and it will provide good incentive for him to learn to pull up and sit up.
If you're interested, here's a link to all of IKEA's current wooden toys...

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Sarah said...

I would be interested to hear you talk more about the idea of children "constructing their personalities." I have seen you mention it before, but only in passing. I find that idea very counter to real-life experience, which has shown me that children are born with their personalities. Obviously they are shaped by their experiences and the expression of that personality might change with the environment, but the key traits are largely genetic. I am not wanting to get into a nature/nurture debate, as I think most of us can agree that it is not either/or but both/and, but I am curious about how you interpret Montessori's philosophy in this area and what it means to you on a practical level.

Anonymous said...

My son loves that train set! It's like his favourite toy ever! He got it for his 2nd birthday (more than 1 year ago) and he plays with it every-single-day.
All you say about the control of error and the problem solving is so true!
Wanna know another piece of learning? My son discovered that wood swells when it gets wet (so the wheels won't work) and it goes back when it dries! ;)

Jessica @ One Shiny Star said...

We have the lighthouse stacking rings from IKEA ($6!) and they have been a big hit at our house for a long time! My daughter is two and she still loves building with them, but visiting children like it because it's not just the basic rings.

Anonymous said...

hi, do you know if the wood ikea toys are made with non toxic paint?

Sara E. Cotner said...

I don't know much about IKEA toys and toxicity, but here's what they put on their website (I know it's the most biased source of information!):

"Because a child may place a toy in his or her mouth, the toy shall not contain harmful levels of toxic substances"

IKEA toys fulfill the following toy safety requirements around the world:
European Toy safety standard EN-71 (market with CE-label)
U.S.A Code of Federal Regulation 16, ASTM F963 and
Pennsylvania regulation for stuffed toys
Canada Hazardous Products (Toys) Regulation
Australian and New Zealand standard AS/NZS ISO 8124
China GB 6675
German requirements for saliva and sweat resistance

Ashley W said...

What age was Henry when you got him this train set? My mom got my son one of the boxes for his first birthday, and I feel like he's still a little young for it. We put it up to wait until he can appreciate it more, but I was curious how old your son was when he got it.

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