Ostheimer is a small German company that makes Waldorf style wooden figures. Their popularity has exploded in the recent years. We can thank Instagram for that. In early 2020 (before Covid-19 hit), several artists retired, putting a strain on the supply of some of the animals. Then Covid-19 came and, you can imagine, Ostheimer was hit hard. It was the perfect storm of demand outstripping supply like never before.
Next Monday marks the beginning of Spielwarenmesse, the world’s largest toy conference. It’s held Germany every year and it launches thousands of new products from across the globe. This year there is no in person convention until the summer; as a result companies will be releasing their new catalogs via social media.
I thought it would be fun to write down what I’d love to see Ostheimer do.
Here’s my wish list for Ostheimer in 2021:
Slow down on nativity people and sets – The nativity set is something you need one of. How many people need six wise men? I hope to see Ostheimer decrease the amount of nativity people and corresponding animals. Yes, I’m looking at you, donkeys, pigs, and lambs.
Increase production of wild animals – we all love the zebras, peacocks, and raccoons. I mean who doesn’t love a trash panda?
Introduce more racially diverse figures – Ostheimer figures are rooted in German fairy tales and traditional professions. Let’s get creative and reflect the global impact of Ostheimer. Brown princesses. Female scientists.
And if I had my pick of what animals and people I want, here are my top five: Peacocks – because one can never have enough peacocks. Fishes – they are super cute and grumpy too. Who knew fish could give the side eye? Reindeer – okay okay, it’s not Christmas, but who doesn’t love a fun reindeer? Parrots – alllllll the parrot colors. We haven’t seen parrots in forever. We need those noisy, sassy creatures in our lives. Raccoons – the trash pandas are by far the cutest things ever. Seriously just adorable. They have issues with ownership, but something wearing a Zorro mask is going to have personality.
Alright! What do you wish for in 2021 from Ostheimer? Which wooden animals would you like to see?
There, I said it. You do not need a Grimm’s rainbow to be open ended. You don’t need a Grimm’s rainbow to start your wooden toy collection. You don’t need a Grimm’s rainbow to be Waldorf inspired.
Seriously, you don’t!
I know! Sacrilegious. How dare Preeti say don’t buy a Grimm’s rainbow stacker! Everybody says I NEED one for open end play. Everyone recommends the rainbow as one of the first toys when switching over to wooden toys, and yet you don’t want me to buy one?
It does sound crazy. To me, a Grimm’s rainbow is beautiful for building. It is beautiful for open ended play. It is gorgeous on a shelf of toys. But a Grimm’s rainbow is not the easiest to use or master for the youngest children.
The Grimm’s rainbow requires thinking and some parent-led invitation to show it’s potential. The rainbow is therefore not the first piece I recommend when purchasing open ended toys. This is even more important for families switching their play style from passive play (sometimes known as battery operated play) to free play.
A rainbow stacker is not a toy to give to a child accustomed to battery operated passive play, and say “here kiddo, have fun building.” The child will have fun building the stacker and rocking the pieces, but they may not do much more. And then you might be disappointed to have spent $100 on a toy that isn’t the favorite for your child.
Instead, I recommend free play toys that children can do themselves. Blocks, vehicles, wood dolls or small plush dolls, play kitchen utensils and wood/felt food. You child can automatically play with them and not feel limited.
What toys to buy? That is another post of possibilities. But quickly, I recommend kitchen items like food, pots and pans, and serving. Blocks and building. Art supplies. Large and small dolls. Nesting boxes and bowls. All are better options to start with than a rainbow.
Once you and your children are having a blast with open play, introduce the rainbow. Show the possibilities of the rainbow. Don’t let it be an accoutrement to the toy shelf, let the rainbow shine on its own.
Are you ready for the new releases from Grimm’s wooden toys?! I am!!
A few of their toys have leaked online as they are listed on their website. Brand new puzzle, a revamp rainbow, and new waldorf dolls. I cannot wait to see the rest of the collection when it officially debuts.
Baukasten Vier Temperamente- Four Temperaments
A colorful building set with 61 building blocks in free form. The individual building blocks are reminiscent of animals and various other creatures, and by combining different building elements, something new is always created that will stimulate and inspire the imagination. The predominant temperament determines the specific mood in which someone usually finds themself. It influences how we feel and experience life, how we think, act or react. The Melancholic temperament has a compassionate and rather sad nature. It is BLUE, turning inward into the depths, with edges, curves and endurance – like its element, the Earth. The Choleric temperament has an active and fiery nature.It is RED, jagged and sometimes sharp-edged. Its impulsiveness belongs to the element of Fire. The Phlegmatic temperament is steady and content. It is GREEN and still like the surface of a pond. Its curves and soft shapes correspond to its element, Water. The Sanguine temperament radiates cheerfulness and optimism. It is YELLOW and shines from within, losing itself in the periphery or in the sky. Air is its element.
Pink yellow nesting boxes
Now that the unpopular yellow-red nesting boxes have been discontinued, we can finally see the pink-yellow style. Matching the lollipop bowls, these boxes are bright and cheery. They pair with the Ocean nesting boxes and bowls which are already on market.
Diverse Waldorf Dolls – from babies to dolls, Grimm’s edited line of waldorf dolls pays homage to the world we live in: everybody. After a fraught year socially in the United States, Grimm’s listened and has acted to bring forth a diverse color collection of their dolls, babies, and gnomes.
Let’s get started with a list of newly discontinued wooden toys from Grimm’s Spiel und Holz. It’s a live document, so I’ll be updating it along the way. There is also a BRAND NEW puzzle coming so click here to see it.
Please remember, this is NOT official. Super sleuths found that these items all lead to dead links on the Grimm’s website. Grimm’s has not officially announced the end of them though.
Monochrome (black and white) bowls
Monochrome (black and white) nesting boxes
monochrome building boards
Yellow-red large and small nesting boxes
Magnetic cobweb puzzle
Medium mini natural rainbow
medium mini pastel rainbow
medium monochrome rainbowm
Sunset rainbow – being replaced by the counting rainbow (matching colorway).
Here it is!!! The moment you’ve been waiting for all year … when you recycle the traditional toy guides and let your child peruse a toy guide full of educational, quality, and sustainable toys.
Send the link to your parents, to your friends, to your school. Video reviews are coming, but this massive pdf should keep you busy. Plus, I didn’t realize how long it would take to write the pdf guide, only 30 hours!
Included are many small businesses, Modern Rascals, The Natural Baby Co, Bella Luna Toys, Danny & Luca, Wren & Mae Creations, Zooble Toys, Fagus, Grimm’s Wooden Toys, Grapat, Ostheimer, Fairyshadow Dolls, Poppy Baby Co, Jen’s Pretty Pegs, Magic Cabin, German Mommy, and Mirus Toys.
When it comes to choosing play animals, there are many choices. Realistic and water friendly animals, Safari Ltd and Schleich are popular. For eco-friendly wooden animals, the two largest brands are Ostheimer and Holztiger.
The question that always arise is: should I buy Ostheimer or Holztiger? Which is better?
I love and hate this question. Each brand has positives and negatives. Which is the best wooden animal? Ostheimer? Holztiger? Or, another brand? And what brand do kids like the best?
Read on to know more about each of the two German brands and which one my kids liked the best.
Ostheimer is often considered creme de la creme – it is the oldest wooden toy maker still in existence today. Their styles and practices have not changed much over the years which many consider an achievement. Both Ostheimer and Holztiger animals are aligned to Waldorf style, though Ostheimer has more neutral expressions on the faces.
Touch When it comes to and feel, Ostheimer have an unfinished raw smoothness. Writing this makes almost no sense, but if you feel one and then feel another brand, you will sense the difference. This touch feeling is 100% subjective. Some may like this unfinished feeling, while Holztiger has a smooth glossiness to the touch. Personally, I like the touch to both.
Paint The paint style between the two brands is very different. Holztiger animals have more details on the animals: spots, lines, speckles, patterns, eyes and mouth, while Ostheimer is more simplistic. Ostheimer animals are stained (a type of water diluted painting) while Holztiger is painted on. Holztiger colors tend to be brighter as well. Ostheimer colors are more muted, while Holztiger use a thicker coat of paint and more vibrant colors.
Size Size-wise, it is hilarious to compare the two brands. Holztiger overall makes larger animals. If you ever looked at the Holztiger chick and Ostheimer chick, there’s a huge difference! Holztiger chick is the size of a silver dollar, while the Ostheimer chick would be nickel sized. The Holztiger moose is enormous – the size of my face! It’s extra fun having a massive moose among the trees. Overall the Holztiger animals are larger, which one can say is more bang for the buck.
Durability From the numerous posts I read, Holztiger is a more “throw friendly” toy than Ostheimer. Holztiger seem to be made of harder woods (still researching exactly which ones). If you have a thrower or a child who is more aggressive with toys, Holztiger would be a better option. Bear in mind, Holztigers break too, especially horns. Breaks are easy to fix than chips – it’s difficult to find a tiny piece that chipped off versus gluing on a large horn.
Just this week, my toddler threw one of the older Ostheimer horses. A small piece chipped off the ear. I was ready to cry. Now, all the Ostheimer has been put away until the youngest is out of the “I’m gonna throw everything” schema…so in 10 years?
Availability 2020 is the year of crazy. As with everything pandemic related, availability has been scarce. In the past month, Holztiger supplies to North America are normalizing again. Ostheimer on the other hand is facing extreme shortages. The major restock of October (which is happening these coming weeks) means low stock to each shop. Honestly, it is not a good situation to be in if your collection is set on Ostheimer.
In another year, I would tell you to buy either brand. Right now, 9 weeks before Christmas, I recommend Holztiger.
Where to Buy Ostheimer – $$$ With extreme limited stock, my best and only suggestion is The Natural Baby Co as they have not had their restock. Make sure to sign up on several items to get the restock email notification. Modern Rascals, a small online shop in Canada has an Ostheimer rabbit, blackbird, and hen in stock at the time of this writing.
And, if you want a quick pros and cons list to reference: Ostheimer
Waldorf style with minimal facial expressions
Minimalism style to painting
More ‘delicate’ feeling
Very difficult to find in stores in 2020
Made in Germany
Unfinished/soft feel to touch
Easy to find at stores
Large sized animals
Made in Europe, mostly Romania
Smooth feel to touch
What’s the secret Preeti? Who’s the winner? Should I buy Holztiger? Or Ostheimer? What will my kid like?
Here’s what you’ve been waiting for! The answer is: IT DEPENDS! Hahahaha! Don’t throw your toys at the screen yet, hear me out!
Your style and preferences, your budget, and the availability in shops is what matters. Kids, more often than not, will love whatever animals you choose when it comes to wooden toys. The big difference really lies between realistic style animals (Schleich and Safari Ltd) versus Waldorf imaginative style of Holztiger and Ostheimer.
After asking my kids 30+ times which animals their favorites, EVERY brand was chosen! One kid preferred the Holztiger giraffe because the spots were better, the other preferred the Izvetvey bear because he was huge. It didn’t matter to them.
The point is, brand name matters to US as parents, not the kids.
More Brands Want more inspiration or need help finding a particular wooden animal? There are many other lovely brands out there. I’m listing a few with a dollar sign to represent expensiveness.
Brin d’Ours $$ – Stylistically sweet and simple. Faces narrow to give a definitive “Brin d’Ours” style. Not to be confused with Brin de Bois. Made in France. Available at WoodWoodToys.ca.
Dada Craft $$ – These sweet Ukraine made animals and trees come in a diverse collection from Africa to farm to Australian animals. You can purchase direct from the maker on Etsy (be aware of COVID shipping delays!) and through presale at Danny & Luca (free shipping, US webshop,. With Danny and Luca you can also use code ALIFEOFTOYS10 for 10% off! (Disclosure, I am a rep for D&L)
Predan -$$$ – minimalistic carved wood toys. Their style is very different from the other brands. Limited shops in Netherlands, UK, and Germany carry them. NOT available for direct purchase in North America.
Tender Leaf Toys – $ These rubber wood toys are brightly colored and adorable. They are price friendly and durable. Available at Danny & Luca (use coupon code ALIFEOFTOYS10), Amazon.
Schleich – $ realistic animals with textured skin.. Not wood but well designed and durable. Buy at Amazon.
Safari Ltd – $ realistic animals. Similar to Schleich but with smooth animal bodies. Buy at Amazon.
There are also several US etsy toymakers making wooden animals and that’s in a separate post.
Whatever you do, Ostheimer and Holztiger make beautiful animals and people. Choose what you think your child will love through the years.
*conditions and limitations apply
Disclosure – this post contains affiliate. By clicking them and purchasing (at no cost to you), I may make a commission. This supports my ability to write, film, edit and create content for you. Thank you for the support!
Today is Columbus Day. As a child you probably remember it as a day that Columbus “discovered America” after getting lost on his way to India. The Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria ships set sail in 1492. They arrived in Haiti. After meeting natives, “Indians”, he collected gold and spices, and was celebrated by Queen Isabella.
And in school, we colored in large ship cutouts, sang songs, and made little feather headpieces. It was fun!
We learned about the history of the US. Indians became friends with the explorers and celebrated the first “thanksgiving”. We learned for years that while there were “wars”, we were here to help the natives by civilizing them, giving modern medicine and gun powder.
It was a sham. White washed history covering injustice, genocide, slavery, and theft. The destruction of peoples was rallied by the perpetrators as “civilizing” them for the crown. Education in the country celebrated the genocide and destruction for 200 years. We dismissed teaching history, we extolled the virtues of Manifest Destiny, and, we even condoned misrepresenting another group of people, the Indians of India. (There’s nothing like growing up in America and being asked – “are you the red dot Indian or the feather Indian?”)
Today my kiddo is in kindergarten. A lot has changed. Our school does not celebrate it as Columbus Day. Work has given the day off for reflection. And many Americans know we didn’t “get” the land, we stole the land.
Living in California, I researched northern California native tribes so we could learn a little more about the ancestral land. I didn’t find resources for the youngest school children (kindergarten/1st grade) as I felt doing random coloring activities was inappropriate.
Instead I’ve included resources of native Americans on Instagram (a lot of amazing people), tribal councils websites and videos. Not all of it is for little kids, so please read around and pull what is age appropriate. If you have suggestions, please let me know and I would be glad to update.
Do’s and Don’ts for teaching Native history in Kindergarten. – Rebecca Gineapp.
International Indigenous Youth Council on Instagram.
2020 will certainly go down in the books as the year that set the world on fire. In every way possible. For a while, we even thought the toy world would be left unscathed. That’s not happening either.
Between Covid-19, raw material supply issues, and extreme demand, Grimm’s Wooden Toys (Spiel und Holz) is under immense pressure to try to keep up with demand. Unfortunately, it’s not working out. Restock alerts for Grimms often sell out within a day, and popular items like the Large Stepped Pyramid and the 1001 Nights set sell out within minutes. It’s crazy!
And here you are lovely reader, gearing up for holiday shopping. But Grimm’s sells out in minutes and you’re left to wonder which block sets to buy.
I picked 5 block sets alternatives to purchase. These blocks are just as fabulous as Grimm’s, and just as versatile in open ended play.
Bauspiel Grid Blocks – I call these the waffle blocks. And these waffle blocks are SO MUCH FUN. I haven’t seen any other brand on the market remotely as neat as these blocks. Modern Rascals has them for $237 (with a 10% coupon, you can get them for $213.70 USD.
Bauspiel Color Street – Glitter Glitter. Right, need I say more? These blocks are a lot of fun to build with, AND they glitter! Made of alder wood (used for wand making in Harry Potter too), the Color Street blocks have a lovely smell and rich color. Available: pre-sale Modern Rascals for $226.
Gluckskafer Rainbow Building Slats – If you want “flat” pieces that range in short to long lengths, the slats provide variety in color and sizing.
Skandico Castle Blocks – Bright and cheery, this Russia based company makes block sets in a variety of styles and tray sizes. One of my favorite is the castle blocks set. Coming in a set of organic shapes and classic rectangles, you can get a little bit of everything with it. Available: Danny & Luca $176.
Uncle Goose Blocks – Any blocks you choose from UG will be a winner. Made in the USA, Uncle Goose makes blocks in many languages (from English to Hebrew to French) and interests (bugs, moon phases, women, and more). Fun to build with and learn. Available: Modern Rascals, prices vary.
For more inspiration on building with these blocks, check out my Instagram. And if you have a favorite block set that I haven’t listed, drop a comment below.
If you are new to open ended play and open ended toys, the possibilities of what to buy are overwhelming. Googling and reading, and reading some more what to buy, what not to buy, and oh my it’s just a lot!
It’s alright! I got your back. I wrote this article to help succinctly pare down those massive lists into something you can digest. And purchase. For several of the options I list, I also have toys that are more affordable.
First, two questions for you:
Are you buying open ended toys to replace the toys you have? Are you buying open ended toys to complement what you already own?
Let’s talk about question 1. Are you buying open ended toys to replace what you have? Answering this question involves knowing what your children already own. Let’s start with an inventory. Go and inventory all the toys that your kids own. I’ll give you a moment (or a few days) to make an inventory. A written list is best. Now, besides each toy, mark the following: – Is it plastic? – Does it have batteries and make lots of sounds? – Is it a push button toy (I.e. you press a button and the toy does the playing)? – Does the toy annoy you? – Does your kid like the toy (do they play with it)? – Do you think the toy has play value for your child?
Now, you want to decide what you want to keep from this list. I recommend keeping toys that your kid loves AND do not annoy you. Some of the toys you keep maybe closed ended, like a puzzle, and that is OKAY!
Other toys you may choose to keep are plastic. There is nothing wrong with plastic stacking bowls. They offer the same function and play value as a set of wooden stacking bowls. You don’t need to replace them. Repeat with me, it’s OKAY THAT I HAVE TOYS THAT ARE NOT WOOD.
Once you have inventoried and questioned the play value of all the toys you have, place the giveaway toys in a pile. Sell them, donate them, put them in a Buy Nothing group – I encourage you to avoid the landfill. You can use the lists below to help you finalize whether to keep or giveaway toys.
I divided the lists below by age groups. This is not meant to be orthodox but loose guidelines. Some children may not use a toy for months, while others start using immediately. Some children may have development delays which means the toys may not be used by them for some time. And that’s okay too! Give them time.
The list offers a few different brands at different price points. I encourage to buy what you think your children will love along with a price point best suited to you. The options are left to right most expensive to least expensive.
Last thing, this article took 10 hours to write and pull the links. Some of the links below are affiliate – I may a little money should you choose to purchase through that link (any product). It comes at no cost to you, so please consider buying through the links. And consider following me on Instagram. My eternal appreciation to you.
Open Ended Toys for 2-3 Years Old Connectix Tiles | Magnatiles | Picassa Tiles Duplo More advanced puzzles – Melissa and Doug | Small dolls + few furniture pieces – Plan Toys (here, here, here, and here)| Hape (here, and here) | Tender Leaf Toys (here, and here) Trains – Brio | Haba Animals and trees – Ostheimer (US/Canada) | Holztiger (US/Canada) | Predan | Dadakacraft | Schleich | Safari Ltd Push Toys Bucket and shovel – Green Toys | Fiskars at Amazon | Home Depot Nesting boxes – Grimm’s | Plan Toys | Melissa and Doug Art supplies – crayons, paper, stickers, scissors (supervised! For the older ones), play dough Peg dolls – Grimms (US/Canada), Grapat (US/Canada), Dixie and Bee, Jen’s Pretty Pegs Music toys – Plan Toys | Natural Baby Company selection
Bonus: 10 Cylinders (more Montessori but can last years) 100 board (Montessori but a basic counting device that lasts years) Extra block sets Grimms (US/Canada) | Bauspiel | Raduga Grez | Ocamora Indoor climbing – Large Pikler and ramp | Wobbel board Build your own fort – Nugget