Construction Toys

How to Build a Toy Crane

Cut the duct tape to measure 7 inches. Cut a second piece of tape to measure 3 inches. Press the sticky side of the short piece of tape to the sticky side of the long piece, centering the short piece.

Stick the ends of the long piece of tape to the top arch of a doorway, creating a pulley.

Measure the height of the doorway arch and double it. Subtract 2 feet and use that measurement for the length of twine. Pull the twine through the pulley, leaving both ends hanging at an even length.

Let the two magnets grab each other on either side of one end of hanging twine to create the crane.

Scatter the nails and washers below the crane. Let the magnets pick up the nails and washers by pulling the no-magnet end of twine. Manipulate the magnets to move the nails and washers into the box.

Things You Will Need

  • Duct tape
  • Ruler
  • 2 small magnets
  • Twine
  • Nails and washers
  • Box

How to Make a Fun Kids' Pull Toy

Sand a 3-by-5-by-1/2-inch piece of lightweight wood with fine-grit sandpaper. You can buy precut wood from a craft store, or you can ask to have a piece of wood cut for you at a home improvement store. This is the base of the pull toy.

Drill four holes in the side of the base for the wheel axles.

Paint the wooden base and the four wooden wheels with an acrylic craft paint in the color of your choice. You can use a different color for the base and the wheels if you prefer. Wait for the paint to dry before moving onto the next step.

Add a dab of wood glue to the ends of the wooden wheel axles and push them into the holes you drilled.

Once the glue dries, attach the wooden wheels to the axles.

Glue the stuffed animal or figurine of your choosing to the top of the base with a hot glue gun.

Drill a hole between the two front wheels from the top to the bottom of the base. The hole should go all the way through the wood.

Thread the string through the hole and tie a loop. Tie the other end of the string through a large wooden bead.

Things You Will Need

  • 3-by-5-by-1/2-inch piece of lightweight wood, such as poplar or balsa
  • 4 wooden wheels
  • 4 1/4-inch wooden wheel axles
  • Drill
  • 3/16 drill bit
  • Wood glue
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Stuffed animal or figurine
  • Hot glue gun
  • 12-inch piece of sturdy string
  • Large wooden bead

Tip

Choose a bigger or smaller piece of wood for your base to change the size of your toy.

You can make your own stuffed toy or figurine from papier mache or a blank wooden form if you want the whole toy to be customized.

The wheels can be whatever size or thickness you like to create the look you want.

Warning

Do not attach a rope that is longer than 12 inches as this can create a safety hazard.

Information on Wooden Toys

History

Wooden toys have been found from ancient civilisations.
Wooden toys have been found from ancient civilisations.

There is a long history of wood used in children's toys. Wooden toys have been found that date back as far as 1100 B.C. Archaeologists have found dolls, chariots and model horses, and even a crocodile with moving jaws from this period. Wooden dolls have been found dating from the time of the Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. Mass production of wooden toys began in the 1500s in Germany, with travelling salesmen employed to sell the toymakers' wares.

Types of Wooden Toys

Russian dolls are a traditional wooden toy.
Russian dolls are a traditional wooden toy.

Russian dolls, train sets, toy planes and nutcrackers are all toys frequently made from wood. While wooden dolls are not popular in the current age, doll houses are still a popular item for little girls. While plastic versions are available on the market, a wooden version provides the most realism while also being the more durable of the two. Rocking horses and jigsaw puzzles are still often made from wood. While jigsaws are more often cardboard-based, wooden puzzles are more suitable for smaller children as they are more easily held and can withstand damage.

Educational and Entertaining Wooden Toys

An abacus can help a child learn to count, add and subtract.
An abacus can help a child learn to count, add and subtract.

The wooden toy has a place in education as well as in fun. Jigsaw puzzles, abacuses and art easels are commonly made from wood and are more hard-wearing than their counterparts made of other materials. Wooden musical instruments are useful in education, and items like maracas, castanets and drums are popular with children. The wooden puppet has also long been used to educate and delight children. Marionette dolls can be used to put on plays for the education and entertainment of children.

Advantages of Wooden Toys

Wooden toys are more biodegradable than other toys.
Wooden toys are more biodegradable than other toys.

Wooden toys have advantages over toys made of plastic or other materials. The thickness of the wood means that wooden toys are less likely to snap or break like plastic, and they withstand being dropped or knocked better than other toys. The longevity of wooden toys means that they can be kept for generations and become long-lasting heirlooms. Wooden toys are also better for the environment. They can be crafted on discarded wood or from wood from managed forests. The production of wooden toys creates less pollution than the production of other toys.

Ideas for Crafting Wooden Toys

If you are skilled in woodwork, there is no end to the number of toys that you can craft from wood, from the tiny to the huge. Designs are available and relatively cheap on the Internet, or for free from most libraries. Starting small may mean crafting a doll's crib or whittling a figurine. Alternatively, tree houses and wooden play areas are popular larger items that children will enjoy.

How to Use Magnets to Self-Propel a Toy

Peel off the backing from two adhesive magnets.

Stick one of the magnets onto one end of a small toy, and the other magnet onto the end of a different toy.

Repeat this process again, sticking the magnets onto the opposite sides of the toys.

Line up the toys, end to end, with the magnets facing each other that have the same poles. You can tell whether the poles are the same because they will repel each other.

Push one of the toys toward the other, pointing the magnet end of the first toy directly at the magnet end of the second toy. This will cause the second toy to self-propel across the floor.

Things You Will Need

  • 2 small toys
  • 4 adhesive magnets

Brain Development Gift Ideas for a Kid's First Birthday

Open-Ended Toys

Open-ended toys allow your 1-year-old to play with them in many different ways. This is ideal for brain development because it boosts imagination, problem-solving and logical thinking, according to Zero to Three. Toys that your child can use in a variety of ways get her brain working each time she plays with them. Blocks, nesting toys and containers for bath time or the sandbox are entertaining choices. Even a large box left over from the birthday party makes a fun choice because it could be a house, space ship or train all in one day.

Books

Reading to your 1-year-old boosts her brain power by increasing vocabulary and setting the stage for language skills. Board books are ideal for babies at this age because they hold up to hundreds of page turns and tosses across the room. Read stories to your little one, but allow her to look through the pages and examine the pictures on her own, too. Anything with words offers similar benefits, so child-geared magazines and magnetic letters work too, notes With the Brain in Mind.

Pretend Toys

Children love to imitate what those around them are doing. This is why you might see your 1-year-old using the remote control as a cell phone. Providing her with pretend versions of the real thing boosts brain development by helping her learn how items work and how they are used in the real world. A pretend kitchen with plastic food and dishes, toddler-sized tools, an old cell phone, musical instruments and dolls with clothes and baby gear are good choices.

Exploration Toys

Your little one might be a year old now, but she still has a lot to learn about her world. Toys that encourage exploration allow your child to build her skills and increase her logical thinking abilities. They also boost fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and spatial reasoning, according to Zero to Three. Chunky puzzles, shape sorters, clay, non-toxic paint and salt dough are ideal options. Toys that come apart and fit back together, toys that have a variety of textures, and toys that play music or light up work well, too.