Over the years, we’ve embraced a wide variety of conventional plastic alternatives, from rubberwood to BPA-free recycled plastic milk jugs, and we’ve really loved it. My favorite material though for toys, hands down, is absolutely wood.
- It’s biodegradable. If a wooden toy breaks and is absolutely beyond repair, guess what? I can still compost it, or even just toss it in the trash if it’s painted. It’ll break down, and it won’t pollute the planet in the process.
- It’s paintable. Okay, so in this house, our kid has ownership over his own toys, which means he gets to color and paint them. AND HE LOVES IT. Wooden toys are amazing because we can breathe new life into them any time we want with a little sandpaper, wood filler, and a fresh coat of paint, easy peasy.
- It’s sustainable. Of course, this all depends on where and how the wood is harvested, but trees are a renewable resource, and one that I feel much better about using for toys than plastic.
The line is called Eli and Mattie, and they’re Amish-made, unfinished wood toys, and positively BEAUTIFUL. So when Lehman’s said, “Hey, would your son like to try one out?”, I said, “Uh, heck yea he would, send it over!”
Made of wooden blocks and hardware that’s tough enough to be safe around troublesome toddlers, this train set kept my little guy busy long enough for me to clean my ENTIRE kitchen, so yea, I’m bragging about it a little.
In all seriousness though, it’s a beautifully made toy. The pieces are set together with tiny nails that aren’t visible, so there’s no temptation to yank them apart. And even if some mischievous little boy decided he was going to try to pry those logs off, well, he totally can’t (because he tried).
The train cars link together with hook and eye closures. I was a little worried they’d be too small for my almost three year old to hook together, but to my amazement, he furrowed his little brow and stuck out his tongue, and had them together within about five minutes.
In short, it’s a great classic toy, but how the train cars hook together is also a great Montessori toy activity for fine motor skill development. The set is unfinished wood, so I’m fiercely protecting it from winding up outside in our sandbox, but worst case I might just throw a coat or two of vegetable oil and beeswax on it to help seal it.
If you’re still working on your holiday shopping, seriously, DO NOT MISS OUT on these gorgeous toys. Eli and Mattie’s line includes stuffed animals, baby doll furniture, activity sets. It’s all so beautifully designed, and is going to last through every kid you decide you can handle.