Take home your own wooden toy car from our online toy shop today.
We have loads of toys here at the Bungalow. After all, we make wooden toys for a living. The Kids here have plenty of the same toys we sell, loads of toy prototypes, and scattered one-offs & specials too impractical to produce for sale.
And we have mass-produced, mass-marketed toys as well. We love and adore and appreciate the support of small boutique shops. They’re wonderful, sell awesome stuff that’s just about impossible to find anywhere else. And the people working the shop are terrific passionate people. But . . .
But they don’t sell Barbies. Or Strawberry Shortcake. Or Lights and Sirens On! Firetrucks. And Legos. We have loads of fun with Legos around here. Sure, the wooden toy maker’s kids have plastic toys. Sure, we’ve heard the arguments against these sort of toys. Overseas labor, bad for the environment, durability, etc. And while there are valid points to be made, the world is a complicated and cruel place. We haven’t seen the absolute rule that serves the best interests of the global community.
Mass-produced doesn’t have to mean cheap, and if you take care of the toys, they can hang around for a good while (of course we’re the biggest fans of quality handmade wooden toys – it’s just hard to hand carve a wooden doll that looks just like the ones on the television).
We are firm in having no pretend dangerous toys. We have no toys guns, knives, or swords (as if kids didn’t pretend every stick was a gun or sword anyway). And we certainly don’t endorse toy tools! Last year a gift toy chainsaw spent all of two minutes in the house. Our woodshop is in our basement, and while it’s safely behind a locked door we educate our kids on the dangers of these tools. It’s a hard and fast rule that tools are not toys. There are three saws in our shop that will cut off a hand just as easily as they cut wood. So we want none of our children in the habit of regarding any saw as a toy.
We’re comfortable with some mass-produced toys, but too many are groan inducing.
Like the countless primary-colored, battery-required, insanity-generating models. Especially tiresome are the “educational toys”. I’m pretty sure we’ve never bought one, but they show up here none-the-less (sort of like the dolls and trucks I swear are self-replicating). But you know those “learning toys” that “teach” shapes and colors. And the A, B, and C. Because all you really need in life are three letters.
I suppose one or two of these fellas wouldn’t be so bad, but after a few dozen of the battery hungry monsters accumulate . . .
The packages tout their benefits. Letter recognition. Color recognition. Hand/eye coordination. They’ll improve thinking skills and boost creativity. A greater understanding of math and geometry. Perhaps they’ll increase your child’s IQ. Good grief! Read enough of it and you’d think that singing light-up helicopter will have your kid solving algebra problems in kindergarten.
Even the non-battery operated toys tout their giftedness. We have a fun little block set that promotes color recognition and hand/eye coordination. Doesn’t picking wildflowers do the same thing?
You want a child to learn something? Teach them. Read to them. Once they learn to read on their own, buy them books. And paper. Pencils. Crayons and markers. Get em a cheap camera. Let em loose in the backyard, in the park, go explore your local urban environ. They’ll learn a ton, and I bet they’ll have fun doing it.
You want a child to have fun? Give them a toy. Make a toy with them. Play with them. Before long little worlds will be born and flourish. Great tales will be written by you and your child. You’ll both have a ton of fun, and I bet you’ll learn something while doing it.
One of our favorite woodland animal toys. Perhaps it’s because the beaver spends so much time working with wood, or perhaps it’s those cute teeth. Either way, you can take home your own beaver toy from our online toy shop.
We’ve been making a lot of stars lately. Hundreds and hundreds of stars; which is awesome because someone is paying us to make stuff! How much cooler of a job can you have? But, as we’re making hundreds at a time, it’s best to be efficient at it.
So the stars are laid out on the wood before cutting (no, even though I’ve cut more than a thousand stars, I can’t cut them from memory). So I laid out a few stars and then measured to see how many stars would fit onto so many feet of board. It’s something like a word problem:
Don has to make 100 stars. If 7 stars fit onto 1.8 feet of maple board, how many feet of board will he need to make 100 stars? (assuming no knots or other defects in the wood that would have to be cut out)
Except there’s no calculator in the shop – only old fashioned long-hand math.
I also figured up how many square inches of wood each star used – this told me my raw materiel cost for each piece.
So yes, math is important. I don’t use calculus in the shop very often, but geometry and algebra are very important. Kids! Pay attention in math class! Don’t end up being the person that needs a calculator to double check his 7 + 7 math.
As a side-diversion:
Before I made toys, I was an architect (technically I still am, I just haven’t done any for-hire work in a while now). The number one response when telling a stranger I was an architect: “You must be good at math.”
Well, I am good at math, I think it’s fun – like solving a puzzle, but surprisingly to most people great math skills aren’t essential to architecture. Basic geometry and a little algebra is all you really need to be competent. A high-schooler would be able to handle most of the math work.
So what’s the number one skill essential to being an architect? Working an unspeakable number of thankless (and unpaid) hours.
As a toy-maker at Happy Bungalow I work more hours, but they are the opposite of thankless. I have fun every day, almost without pause. I mean come on! We’re making toys here. My job is to make toys!
Stop into our online toy shop to take home some of our work.
Our first promo video – put together for a grant application. Filmed on location in the Bungalow. Featuring our super-fun wooden toys, head-artisan Don, and an artist rending of the entire crew.