Wooden and natural toys are a timeless way for children to play open-ended. This is a compiled list of places you can trust to shop non-toxic, natural, and sustainable toys for your children that will last generations.
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Let’s start with why you want natural and open-ended toys in your children’s environment. Honestly, they are more appealing to the eye, which makes mama happy, ha. Okay, aside from that, exposing our children to natural materials builds an appreciation for the natural world.
Natural toys are also more eco-friendly and sustainable compared to plastic and synthetic toys that harm mother nature. The goal may not be to go 100% plastic-free, because hey, we like mega blocks over here too. But we do want to be mindful of our carbon footprint.
Open-ended toys have so many benefits for children than close-ended and over-stimulating toys. When our children have open-ended toys their imagination is set free and their play possibilities are endless. So, where can we buy natural and open-ended toys that we can trust?
BEST PLACES TO GET NATURAL & OPEN-ENDED TOYS
Natural toys are any toy made of natural materials. For example: wooden blocks, wool balls, silk scarves, rubber tracks, metal play kitchen pots and pans, etc. These toys are non-toxic and provide more for our children than the touch of non-natural materials.
Open-ended toys are toys that have no one specific function. Think about a Moana doll. That doll will always be Moana, nothing else. The play is fixed and unimaginative. Open-ended toys, such as wooden blocks, can be anything. I have seen my daughter pretend that her blocks were a phone, bread, cup, table for her peg dolls, and of course, building structures.
I have a list of some of my favorite shops to buy natural and open-ended toys below.
The Environment (nature & home)
There are so many natural and open-ended toys available everywhere and for free. Loose parts are great open-ended play materials and often found in nature. Look around the yard and in your kitchen cupboards for items such as these:
- sticks and branches
- stones, shells, and rocks
- dirt and water
- acorns and pine cones
- pots and pans
- wooden spoons
- cups and bowls
- wool dryer balls
- cardboard boxes
- bottle caps
Natural toys at the Goodwill (any local second-hand shop)
Good old-fashioned recycling by means of second-hand shopping.
You can find so many good natural materials and open-ended toys at the second-hand shop. All you need is a little imagination and creativity to find those hidden play treasures. Those small wooden bowls on the shelf make great sorting bowls in the playroom.
I recently purchased our Grapat Collection of loose parts from Woodberry Toys and was highly impressed by how fast shipping was, the variety of natural and open-ended toy options, and customer service. The packaging was also eco-friendly; so that was an added bonus.
Things They Love
Looking for a trusted shop that guarantees all toys are ethically made with non-toxic and sustainable materials? Things They Love is the shop for you. You will find top brands such as Holztiger, Ocamora, Safari LTD., and more. This shop also has a curated collection of books, dolls, and decor.
The Wooden Wagon
When you fell in love with wooden toys, you probably pictured the popular rainbow stacker by Grimms. The Wooden Wagon has natural wooden toys, art supplies, blocks, puzzles, wobble boards, organic stuffed animals, etc. from Europe and beyond. This toy shop has been sharing toys and folk art since 2003.
One art supply I am excited to order from this shop is the Beeswax Crayons! There is also free shipping on orders over $100 for customers in the lower 48.
Bella Luna Toys
Your toy shop that has a rewards program for all of your purchases, Bella Luna Toys. This shop is a great place for Waldorf toys, wooden toys, natural toys, and Waldorf dolls. Also available at Bella Luna Toys are play silks, arts & crafts material, rocker boards, and outdoor toys.
New to open-ended play and need some help? Bella Luna Toys has recommendations based on age (click on age in their menu bar) starting from birth to adulthood.
Oak & Ever
Another one of my favorite shops for educational toys that honor learning through play and with natural materials. Oak and Ever believe that 3 well-selected toys are better than 10, and so do I. Read my blog post about the developmental benefits of having fewer toys.
If you are a visual person and need some inspiration on what open-ended play with natural materials might look like, Oak and Ever have a wonderful Instagram account to help. Added bonus, free shipping over $125, woohoo!
Modern Rascals is a Canadian small-owned shop that also ships to the U.S. primarily out of Buffalo, NY. If you don’t mind waiting just a bit, then consider Modern Rascals for not only sustainable toys but clothing, puzzles, books, and art as well. This shop carries popular brands for natural, wooden, and open-ended toys such as Connetix, Grapat, Grimms, Holztiger, Ostheimer, and Wobbel. Wanting to transition your toy collection but working with a budget, Modern Rascals also offers payment plans.
*Please be responsible when buying new toys and always consider second-hand items and what you already have that can be re-imagined <3
A small business based in Texas, Destiny Capps specializing in creating open-ended sensory kits that encourage imagination, creativity, and fun. I have recently purchased her play-doh (loved) and will soon be ordering some of her sensory kits. Let’s support other mom entrepreneurs! Visit Capptivating Play.
Department Stores (Target, Walmart, Khols, IKEA, Etc.)
When transitioning from mainstream or “close-ended” toys, it can be overwhelming. It can also be challenging to help the extended family (grandparents lol) and friends to know how to shop for your children.
The following brands and items make great options that are usually available at common big box stores and department stores. I have linked many to the store or Amazon.
Amazon & Etsy
I won’t lie, I enjoy shopping from Amazon. It is quick and easy as a Prime member and with two kids and trying to manage all of the things, sometimes convenience wins. I definitely recommend Etsy to support small businesses and other entrepreneurs. Handmade wooden toys, baby dolls, and activity cards to pair with loose parts for play invitations are great finds on Etsy.
Two of my favorite shops for our loose parts activity printables are From Watson with Love and Sweet Bee Shoppe. I also recommend Montessori ReStore for Montessori and Waldorf-inspired toys, based out of Michigan City, Indiana.
- Wobble Board
- Wooden Train Sets or Rubber Tracks
- Baby Dolls
- Animals, vehicles, etc
Do you have a favorite shop to buy natural, wooden, and open-ended toys? Let me know. This is how we create change and bring imagination back into our children’s play!
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