Toys: Back to Basics

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

So, Scott and I were wandering around the Paseo Colorado on Friday night before we went to see The Social Network, and we walked into a new kids / baby store called Currant.  Very cute stuff - everything a baby or mom could need when it comes to strollers, bibs, baby shoes, and toys.  At the back a rather frustrated dad was feeding dinner to his daughter. As we wandered by, looking at the various wooden toys, he looked up and said "It's funny, she has so many complex new toys, and she comes here and loves those simple things."  Well, kids are simple at heart - so I wasn't all that surprised. 

I've always had a thing for wooden toys.  From a designer's standpoint, they are so much more attractive than those awful plastic things with all the bells and whistles you get at Toys R Us these days. No offense, I still love the good ole Fisher Price garage - but see, it's simple as well! 

If you're going to have to have toys strewn across your family room floor (and I've already given in to this fact when we have children), then they might as well be aesthetically pleasing and well designed... and preferably toys that last, that don't require batteries (does anyone else think that the toy companies are in cahoots with Energizer?), and that maybe one day my kids can hand down to their own kids. 

That said, I've recently discovered the wondeful world of Made by Joel.  Joel Henriques lives in Portland.  I have yet to figure out if this is his full time job, but he makes the most amazing, simple toys for his kids and blogs about them. 

You can download templates from his blog for some of the toys, and in general gain inspiration for how much you can do from so little.  It's really true, the most basic simple toys can entertain a kid for hours.  So drop the batteries and get out your scissors and glue.


  1. Ooh, love the Made By Joel link! Great ideas. And totally true. Really, the kiddoes at this age just want to interact with you. Making toys together out of everyday things is the best way to spend your time. To date, our most successful toys are:

    -the laundry basket with a couple of pillows = car
    -the old standby: cardboard box with windows cut out = killer fort
    -Benjamin stool from IKEA = tunnel and bridge
    -remote controls = telephone

    Hours of entertainment. Plus, your house doesn't have to look like a daycare and you don't have to listen to the clangy, jangly recorded "hey, weee, tee hee hee!"'s of all those electronic toys. Bonus!

  2. I too loved the garage, but it was second only to playing farm:
    Maybe that's why I ended up growing things instead of fixing cars?

    My son had the wooden toys of course - so pretty!Although I did find an old Fisher Price Barn for him too...