Alma Therapy Dollls  (2019) by Yaara Nusboim
Alma Therapy Dollls (2019) by Yaara Nusboim

Created by Israeli designer Yaara Nusboim, each of these carefully crafted dolls corresponds to a different feeling – love, fear, pain, emptiness, anger and safety. The designer explains: "Toys, not words, are the language of a child. Playing with a toy provides a safe psychological distance from the child's private problems and allows them to experience thoughts and emotions in a way that's suitable for their development."

Cody Block (2020) by QUBS
Cody Block (2020) by QUBS

Cody Block is a Montessori inspired, screen-free wooden toy that helps young children learn the basics of computer programming. Designed by Swiss manufacturer QUBS, the child’s task is to create a route that takes Cody back home, one city block at a time.

Neptune Spar By Papafoxtrot
Neptune Spar By Papafoxtrot

Inspired by all technological marvels of today, the London-based studio designs hand-crafted wooden toys and miniatures that delight children and adults alike. The studio works with a network of designers and manufacturers around the world, allowing them to ‘utilize the best craftsmen and sustainable material suppliers in order to create products of the highest quality.’

Bauhaus Optical Mixer of Colors (1924) by Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack
Bauhaus Optical Mixer of Colors (1924) by Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack

Including seven interchangeable cardboard discs, the wooden spinning top gives users an opportunity to play and compare the color theories of Goethe, Schopenhauer and Hölzel. The toy was originally designed as a didactic object at the Bauhaus and is currently produced by German manufacturer Naef.

Cubetto (2016) by Primo Toys
Cubetto (2016) by Primo Toys

Primo Toys introduces coding to girls and boys aged three and up. Cubetto combines Montessori learning principles – child-centered, auto-didactic, non-prescriptive - with computer programming concepts. Irrespective of a child’s gender, reading skills or language, the wooden robot introduces a whole new dimension to, boosting a child's creativity, critical thinking, spatial awareness and communication skills.

Build-A-Robot by Plan Toys
Build-A-Robot by Plan Toys

The wooden robot features four interchangeable, geometric-shaped heads, featuring four basic emotions: happiness, anger, sadness and surprise. Laura Chun Urquiaga designed the toy in collaboration with a team of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) specialists to help children with social and communication setbacks get familiarized with these emotions. The toy is made from organic, kiln-dried rubberwood, coated with a non-toxic finish - all colors are made from vegetable dye.

Rigamajig (2016) by Cas Holman
Rigamajig (2016) by Cas Holman

Rigamajig is a large-scale kit of parts that empowers children to create just about anything. Designed as a collection of wooden planks, wheels, bolts, nuts, rope and pulleys, it engages children to collaborate, develop problem-solving skills, follow their instincts and most importantly, make their own decision. In keeping with the spirit of open-ended play, the kit comes with no instructions or direction.

The Trinomial Cube by Maria Montessori
The Trinomial Cube by Maria Montessori

The Trinomial Cube is a simple and elegant physical representation of the trinomial formula. The different sizes of the colour-coded blocks help the child first visualize the formula - by systematically deconstructing and reconstructing the cube - before moving on the abstract, on-paper representation.

Rainbow Wooden Musical Puzzle (1996) by Heiko Hilling
Rainbow Wooden Musical Puzzle (1996) by Heiko Hilling

One of the bestselling pieces produced by Swiss toy manufacturer Naef, the Rainbow Wooden Musical Puzzle is a game of stacking and balancing the nine wooden arches. When struck with a mallet, each arc responds with its unique sound. Rainbow received numerous design awards, including the Bundespreis for product design in 1998, Germany and the German Design Award Wooden Toys in 1997.

The Pink Tower (c. 1910) by Maria Montessori
The Pink Tower (c. 1910) by Maria Montessori

The Pink Tower is a foundational material in the Montessori approach to sensorial learning - designed by Maria Montessori herself, it consists of ten wooden cubes, ranging from one to ten cubic centimeters. Since all cubes are the same color and texture, the aim is to refine a child's visual sense by discriminating differences in dimension and weight.

Sumblox (2014) by David Skaggs
Sumblox (2014) by David Skaggs

Slumbox was designed to help children visualize the abstract nature of mathematics. The height of each beechwood block corresponds to its value so that when stacked, they match the result of the equation. Ideal for homeschooling or classrooms, the design and concept of the blocks fits perfectly within the Montessori or Waldorf learning styles.

Riva Aquarama Speedboat (2015) by Madeindreams
Riva Aquarama Speedboat (2015) by Madeindreams

Known in the 1960s as ‘The Queen of the Riviera’, this scale model combines ‘the charm of a collector's item and the fun of a construction toy.’ Children will get familiarized with the technical terminology used in the construction process of the boat and also get acquainted with the materials used in its life-size counterpart.

Yoto Player (2020) by Yoto, Pentagram
Yoto Player (2020) by Yoto, Pentagram

For the design of the Yoto Player, London-based design studio Yoto has teamed up with Pentagram, the world’s largest independently-owned design studio. The Yoto Player is a smart speaker conceived as a screen-free audio player, combining the latest technology with traditional play. Children can insert a plastic card at the top of the player and listen to an audiobook of their choice, such as The Gruffalo, Winnie the Pooh or other classics from Roald Dahl.

Flash Cards (2008) and Floor Puzzles by Charlie Harper
Flash Cards (2008) and Floor Puzzles by Charlie Harper

The ABC set of flashcards - including two large floor puzzles - has been designed by feature artist Charlie Harper. The bold illustrations inspired by the wildlife are aimed to encourage children make letter and sound associations with images.

ABC con Fantasia (1960) Bruno Munari
ABC con Fantasia (1960) Bruno Munari

Once again, Munari demonstrates his sensitivity to children’s need for simplicity when facing abstract concepts such as shapes and letters. By devising a collection of straight and curved soft-plastic strokes, the designer allows children to assemble every letter of the traditional alphabet or, why not, make up their own.

Froebel Gifts (1837) by Friederich Froebel
Froebel Gifts (1837) by Friederich Froebel

Initially designed for Friederich Froebel’s Kindergarten schools, the Froebel Gifts sequence is deceptively simple. The set consists of a specific selection of 20 gifts, including physical objects such as balls, blocks beads, sticks and wooden shapes. There are only two rules for play: all parts must be incorporated and a creation cannot be destroyed and rebuilt, but changed through modification.

Flexure (2015) by Richard Elaver
Flexure (2015) by Richard Elaver

Designed by professor and designer Richard Elaver, Flexure is made from flexible connectors and wooden sticks that connect intuitively, by pushing them together. Children can build complex, three-dimensional shapes, ranging from butterflies to dodecahedrons and molecular models.

Large Stepped Counting Blocks by Grimm’s Spiel & Holz Design
Large Stepped Counting Blocks by Grimm’s Spiel & Holz Design

Besides endless ways for building simple foundations, walls, fences, stalls as well as houses, towers and castles, these blocks are an exciting way for children to discover the world of numbers and learn the colour sequence of the rainbow. All blocks are made from lime wood, stained with non-toxic water-based color stain and coated with a non-toxic plant-based oil finish.

Newborn Montessori Kit by Heirloom Kids USA
Newborn Montessori Kit by Heirloom Kids USA

The Montessori approach is all about tapping into the child’s natural ability to learn and provides guidance from as early as birth. This ‘starter’ kit, produced by Heirloom Kids is hand-crafted in the United States and includes six classic Montessori toys, all aimed to engage and enhance the infant’s motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Free Universal Construction Kit (2012) by Goran Levin, Shawn Sims
Free Universal Construction Kit (2012) by Goran Levin, Shawn Sims

Artists and engineers Goran Levin and Shawn Sims have designed nearly eighty adapter bricks that allow pieces from ten children's construction toys to connect. This way, the Kit encourages a type of spatial and aesthetic exploration based on 'hybrid construction play,' while extending the value of each construction set across the life of a child. The online resource for the 3D printing of the adaptors is available on Thingiverse.com.

Eames House Blocks (2006) by House Industries
Eames House Blocks (2006) by House Industries

In celebration of the Eames Century Modern project, House Industries created a set of 36 educational blocks that showcase letters, numbers, symbols and numerals. Each set of blocks is hand-printed with non-toxic child-safe ink in 29 screen passes and is made from replenishable Michigan-grown basswood.

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