I recently gave Otto this stacking toy (a.) and for Christmas he received this first lacing toy (j.). When I touch them, they feel so organic and humble. No flashing lights, no sophisticated design. Just some beautifully cut, all natural, textured timber. While I love wooden toys, these with just a enough bark on them, are my favourite. The young child can easily relate them to the trees in the woods, the branches on the forest floor. No paint and only a little sanding. Each piece feels different.
"The use of wood instead of plastic helps the child appreciate the natural world, the colours, shades and grains of wood, and the various weight of wooden toys in a variety of of sizes and densities. Quality shows a respect for the child and teaches the child respect for belongings. Beauty and durability are important at all ages for the child's tastes are being formed at this time of life. People who learn to appreciate living with beauty early in life can more easily lead us in creating a beautiful home, and perhaps a beautiful world, when they grow up." - The Joyful Child: Montessori, Global Wisdom for Birth to Three.
Choosing natural, untreated wood also shows respect for the environment. It shows the child what gifts Earth has given to man (the tree) and what man can do with their hands and a few hand tools. These toys are without doubt biodegradable, compostable and can be returned to the Earth. This is a valuable lesson to the child. I know it's not always possible to avoid plastic but there is a lot to love about these handmade, Earth made options.