Have you ever noticed the effect of touch on our minds? For some of us it’s a hug, for others the fresh breeze rushing past our skin, and for many, it’s what we hold and see.
It doesn’t matter what it is, but what we physically feel often causes a shift in our state of mind.
If you have two similar items around your home – one wooden and one plastic – I encourage you to pick up each at the same time. It could be a plastic spatula and wooden spoon or maybe a wooden chair and plastic table. Think about what you feel when you are holding them.
Do you notice that the wooden object is markedly warmer?
Do you feel the textures on the wooden item are vastly more natural than those on the plastic one?
Compare the appearance of the two. Does one have slight imperfections? Do your eyes get drawn to one more than the other?
Does one feel that little bit more comfortable to hold?
The difference in touch between plastic and wood is remarkable. I find that wooden items draw me toward them. They look solid… sturdy… like they will last. And toys are no different.
The connection that children feel when playing with wooden toys is so important that it goes beyond just the purpose of play. According to the Waldorf Journal, giving children wooden table and chairs with considerable weight allows learning beyond simply sitting to eat and draw. Watch as children lift the heavy chairs and gain muscle strength. Watch their excitement when they succeed in sliding a wooden table across the floor. Watch as they successfully turn the chairs upside down to create a new play environment.
Giving children wooden toys allows their connection with nature to continue. They will run their hands along the wood grains and feel its warmth. They will find new ways to reuse and play with them. Wooden toys cause children to use and develop their imagination to create, inspire and learn in one.
Have you seen mothers give children toys only to find that the child plays with the box more than the toy. Chances are the box provides an opportunity for open ended play rather than serving only one purpose. The box is textured and feels warm. It can be used to create cubbies, trains, cars, used to put things in or makes things out of. The box can be used and reused to create many hours of fun.
Providing children with toys (and not too many) that inspire and cause them to think and learn, undoubtedly sets them up for a bright future. Their minds will not be limited by tunnel vision or limited by the environment around them, but rather will be open to explore and be free of the psychological limitations society often creates.