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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Making Toys That Teach

My son is getting to the age where he wants to play with more interesting toys. I'm getting to the point where I want to make those toys for him. There is no greater satisfaction than having a child enjoy a toy created by your own two hands.

Last week, I bought Making Toys That Teach, by Les Neufeld. Let me tell you, this book is awesome. It is exactly what I was looking for. Toys that are simple, fun and educational. I liked it so much, I had to make it this week's Book Of The Week.

These toys are designed for children between 7 months to 12 years old. Each toy offers numerous teaching opportunities, but still allows room for creative play. They teach the basics like manipulation, shape recognition, sorting, and pattern making. But they also teach more advanced concepts like fractions, decimals, geometry and even basic structural engineering! These toys will provide countless hours of play, and they'll be learning too. Its a win-win situation!

This book has 9 fantastic projects. I know I'll build each one of these wonderful toys. The coolest toy, in my mind, is the Ultimate Building Block Set. It is the best blocks set I've ever seen. I wish I had this when I was a kid!

OK. Here's the rundown.


  • The toys are simple and elegant.
  • The toys offer creative play and learning opportunities.
  • Each toy has a section on how to use it for teaching opportunities.
  • The projects are easy to make.
  • Only basic tools are needed.
  • Easy to read plans and measurements.
  • Clear instructions with plenty of color photographs.
  • Lots of lists; Cut lists, Materials List, Recommended Tools List.
  • Great bibliography for further reading (mostly academic).
  • List of resources and suppliers.

  • I wish the book would go into more detail about safe finishing techniques.
  • I also wish the book would include information of toy safety.

If you have kids or grand kids, this book is perfect for you. It is worth it just for the building blocks alone. The toys you create will provide countless hours of fun, and help foster creativity and problem solving. I can't recommend this book enough. Grab yourself a copy!

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