Wooden toys are becoming an increasingly popular choice among parents to give to their children. Some parents may be attracted to the aesthetic appeal wooden toys have. Others may appreciate their simplicity and connection to nature while other parents value the eco-friendly and heirloom quality wooden toys possess. Most can agree on these toys’ many benefits, but not all parents can swallow the high price tag that often comes with them.
Brands such as Grimms and Grapat are well-known leaders in the wooden toy industry. While I can accept the fact that they are of high quality, sustainably made, and non-toxic, I can’t accept the cost of some of their simple toys. After looking around for cheaper alternatives, I soon discovered the magical place called a craft store.
I don’t consider myself much of a crafter. I like the idea of knowing how to sew, knit, or build things with wood, but every time I try to learn, I get bored and quickly lose interest. My types of crafts are simple and use tools such as a stapler or hot glue gun.
That being said, if I can “make” these DIY wooden toys for my child, you can too!
The Only “Crafty” Step
You can leave your wooden toys natural, use a stain, or paint and seal them. If you’d like to paint your projects, you can use food coloring or a non-toxic paint. To finish them, use a food-safe and all-natural topcoat such as walnut oil, natural shellac resin, or cutting board oil.
7+ Ideas for Easy DIY Wooden Toys
#1 Wooden Peg People Dolls
Peg people are becoming increasingly popular among wooden toy enthusiasts. But have you seen the cost of some of them?! If you would like to buy 12 of Grimm’s Rainbow Friends, it will set you back $45. Alternatively, you can buy 12 wooden peg dolls from your local craft store or an online craft store such as Woodpeckers Crafts for $4.
#2 Color Matching Cups or Bowls
Your child can also have fun color matching with Grimm’s Seven Rainbow Friends in Seven Bowls for $56. Savvy moms, however, can add seven bean pot candle cups to their peg people order for an extra $3. In the picture, I used country candle cups instead of the bean pot candle cups, which were sold out at the time.
#3 Wooden Tree Forest
Of course, the peg dolls may want to frolic among a forest of trees. One linden tree from Ostheimer will cost about $18. Or you can buy some wooden spools and fruit from a craft store to create five trees for about $16 total.
#4 Colorful Wooden Coins
Colorful wooden coins are an open-ended toy that can be used for color matching games, fake money, stepping stones for peg people, and so much more. You can buy 72 coins in 12 colors from Grapat for $48. If that seems like a lot of money to you, it’s easy enough to buy 72 circle cutouts from the craft store for $6 and paint them the colors of your choice.
#5 Egg and Cup
If you’re familiar with Montessori wooden toys, then you are most likely familiar with the classic “egg and cup” toy. It’s essentially a 3D object-fitting puzzle for babies who can sit and focus on the work. I found one on Amazon for $15. You could also buy a wooden egg and a wooden egg cup holder for a total of $2.24 from a craft store. Another bonus? This isn’t DIY at all! No work on your end besides clicking the mouse.
Another easy in-and-out puzzle for your little one is a wooden ball and bowl for $3.50 total from a craft store.
#6 Wooden Rings
Top-brand wooden toy companies also sell wooden rings. They’re great to use as teething rings, stacking rings, color matching, ring toss and more. Save the money and buy wooden rings from the craft store for $1 or less. For no effort, leave them natural.
When my daughter was too young for the Melissa & Doug ring stacker, I used its wooden base and replaced the rings with simple wooden rings from the craft store. The wider opening and consistent size of the craft rings made it easier for my daughter to practice dexterity and to learn the concept of stacking rings onto a vertical dowel.
I’ve also seen parents use a mug tree with the wooden rings. This helps young toddlers practice threading the rings using a horizontal motion. You can also use it as a color matching activity if you paint the “branches” of the mug tree in corresponding colors to the rings. Or you can color match the rings to the peg people.
#7 Wooden Blocks
Did you know you can buy plain wooden cubes of various sizes from craft stores? Again, you can choose to keep them natural or paint them. Buy all one size or various sizes, and watch your child build with them! You can also turn them into DIY dice or paint designs on them to create your own unique dice game.