Grimm’s Wooden Toys Retired Collection

Are you a Grimm’s nerd? Looking for the collection, old and older to find? You are in luck. Here is my amassed collection of all the Grimms Spiel und Holz retired products in one post. It is not every product, but all the well known ones.

Be prepared, the out of production Grimm’s wooden toys are spectacular. Truly works of art. By the sheer nature of being retired, they are almost impossible to find. I have had some luck finding pieces but it takes a lot of hard word, a dash of luck, and maybe a friend. Please don’t get into searching for them unless you are prepared to do a LOT of searching. And pay over retail.

Retail prices for the small puzzles (like the Iris, Seasons, or Green/Blue and Red sparkling mandalas) were 50-70 euros. The super Grimm’s puzzles (Sun mandala, Circle Flower mandala, Kreis Fantasy, Kreis Auris) were 200 euros. And mandalas like the Lara and Fokus were around 150 euros.

I am putting this photo list here in the hopes that we can convince Grimm’s to bring back some of these beauties. For the current collection, I recommend The Natural Baby Company (for US shoppers) and Modern Rascals (Canada shoppers).

Grimms Circle Auris mandala
Grimms Circle Sun mandala
Grimms Circle Rainbow mandala

Grimms Circle Flower mandala
Grimms Circle Conical Tower 1 mandala
Grimms Circle Conical Tower 2 mandala
Grimms Black White Chess Board
Grimms Large Staircase
Grimms Trapezoid
Grimm’s Lara Mandala
Grimm’s Waterlily pentagon
Grimm’s Pentagon
Grimm’s Crop Circles
Grimms Large Sparkling Natural Mandala
Grimms Large Sparkling Pink Mandala
Grimm’s Grimms Sparkling Red/Yellow Mandala
Grimms Sparkling Green Mandala
Grimm’s Iris Mandala
Grimms Summer Mandala

Grimms Itten Mandala
Grimm’s Chameleon puzzle
Grimm’s 2cm Conical tower (smaller version than the large conical tower)
Grimm’s Fish puzzle
Grimm’s snake puzzle
Grimm’s Roofs and Pillars

I have a few retired mandala puzzles missing.When I find good photos, I will add them here.

What is Open Ended Play & Why It Is Important

This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing through them I make a commission (at no cost to you). This helps support my blog and writing. Eternal thanks for the kindness.

You have little kids. Life is dominated by toys, snacks (why do they need so many?!), and naps. When it comes to toys, a $22 billion dollar industry in the US, the shelves are plentiful of options.

Overwhelming options.

Where do you even start? The bright blocks that light up? The action figure that talks? The education toys where you press a button and something happens? It’s impossible to know for new parents, veteran parents, and doting family members.

If you researched on the internet, you may have come across the term “open ended play” and “open ended toys”. In the groups, I often see questions about open ended play. This inspired me to write about the importance of open play and the need to return to our roots as children.

Open ended play is play for children. In our modern, complex society, we have forgotten the classics of what play means. We as adults want to compartmentalize their day, optimize their time, and advance their play. We want kids to be busy all day so they do not get bored.

What kids really need is unstructured play. Not throwing things and screaming (unless I suppose they are princesses fighting dragons), but play where they can do anything they want.

Play is the activity children do to interpret and create their world. Every encounter they have, TV show they watch, book they read is absorbed and processed in their growing brains. But to understand what they saw, children need to play. They need the ability to process the thousands of nuances happening everyday.

Here is a great summary from Michigan State University:
“Open-ended play materials allow children to make choices, express their creativity and support their independence. Open-ended materials by definition do not have a pre-determined use. A block can be a car, phone, doll’s chair, ice-cream bar or any number of other things in play. It is through these experiences that children are able to learn best.”

These “materials” do not need to be toys themselves. They can be anything. Pillows become lava. Stones become food. PVC pipes become talking devices.

Play is endless. Imagination is endless. By giving children the tools to do whatever play they, they can freely and safely express their ideas.

Now play leads to toys. What toys are good for open play? Do I need to throw away all the toys I have? Is it expensive? Your mind is swirling with questions!

What are open ended toys?
Open ended toys are any toys that can be used in an imaginative way. Blocks are a classic example of open ended toys. Legos, Magnatiles (Picasso Tiles), Tegu, dolls (and doll furniture) are also examples of open ended toys.

Want more ideas? Cars, train sets, art supplies of paper and crayons are also open ended. As is nature. Dirt, sticks, rocks, leaves, acorns are all open ended. Have you ever gone on a walk with a small child and they collected all sorts of leaves and sticks? This is the power of their imagination.

playing with sand and toys

Most of the time, battery operated light up toys are not open ended. You press the button and the toy makes sounds, thus doing the work of play.

What about wooden toys? Are they open ended?
Have you noticed that I made very few references to wooden toys? I mention “toys” and “materials”. This is because wooden toys does not equate to open ended and open end does not mean wooden toys.

Most wooden toys are open ended because we have been making things from wood for thousands of years. Plastic toys are 40 years old – and easy to mass produce, wire up, and put lights in. In the United States (and many countries), we love things fast and cheap, and that includes toys.

Toys that light up, toys that play sounds, toys that do the work of playing are popular. You know them because you hear children press the button a thousand times, but not do anything else with the toy.

electronic toy – do you know what it’s supposed to do? I sure don’t!

Wooden toys by default are not wired or have lights on them. They are cut by saws (hand or commercial CNC machine), sanded, and painted. Electronics tend not to be part of wooden toys. Wooden toys can be blocks, vehicles, loose parts, puzzles, ships, and more.

Don’t go dumping out all the toys from your children’s collection just yet. First inventory what you have. Then ask the question, “how can my child play with this?” And last, “should i keep it? If not, can i donate and find another home?” Sometimes, the answer is the trash bin, and while I don’t encourage throwing them out, there are only so many broken toys you can give away.

What open ended toys should I buy?

I have several wooden toy lists (here, here, and here) that can help you with identifying what to purchase. And some of my lists have open ended toys, plastic or not. I’ll tell you a secret. My kids favorite toys when they were babies (under 15 months old) were: tupperware, silicon spatulas, silicon spoons, wallet, metal canisters, and stones.

It’s important to remember to buy within your budget and pick quality, known brands. We all (including myself) have been swayed away by the beauty of toys, especially wooden toys. Start with a few classics like blocks and bowls, and work your way from there.

A word of warning. Society has conflated open ended play with open ended toys. We have commercialized the open ended play to mean that “you need x,y, z toys for open ended play.” That’s not true. You don’t need certain brands to be open ended. Your children will amaze you what with they consider open ended play, and many times, they are not toys.

What about closed ended toys? Are they bad?
Not all closed ended toys are created equal. A puzzle has an ending, it is finite. Once all the pieces are put together, the puzzle is complete. But puzzles foster visual thinking, color recognition, pattern sorting, and patience – many very important traits for children to learn.

For example, Montessori teaching focuses on closed ended, self correcting materials. This allows a child to explore and work out the solution. It is a different style of learning, and a qualified respected form of teaching. Even within Montessori there is plenty of open play. My children play with mops. They don’t use them as swords but rather house play and real cleaning – developing both imaginary and real work play. (They own real mops that I shortened for them – Bona mops are great and cheap).

On the other hand, a battery toy house is not open ended. You press the button for the doorbell and the toy makes a sound. You press the food button, and the toy says, “dinner is served!”. Each button you press leads to an action, “the sound”, and a conclusion, “no more sound means no more play”.

We can talk forever about the importance of open ended play. What we know is that free play helps brain development. Free play gives children the ability to critically think and process information. It allows them to be bored and learn to entertain themselves. Free play even enables children to understand and process their emotions (NPR).

Whatever you do, don’t dump out the toy box. Reflect upon how the toys you own can be more open ended. Remove those that cannot. And gently add to your child’s collection.

If you enjoyed this article, please follow me on Instagram at @alifeoftoys.


Bauspiel Color Streets Blocks {Review}

Glitter glitter, bling bling!

Have you seen such pretty blocks with enormous gems?!

I am thrilled to review the Bauspiel Color Street wooden blocks (Fabenstrasse, item number 0150). Bauspiel is from a small German company, Deckelmann. Deckelmann also works with Papoose Toys from Australia to sell their wool felted products.

The Color Street set consists of 45 blocks. 20 blocks are matching pair and 5 blocks are blanks. The colors range in ruby red to purple with many shades representing the rainbow.

The best part of the gem blocks are…the gems! Faced the right way, they reflect that oh so pretty dispersed light. You can compliment them with the Bauspiel windows too. It’s magic.

Should you get the Bauspiel? It depends. If your children like the bling in blocks, these sets are something special. But they come at a hefty price at $210 USD. I bought mine from Modern Rascals in Canada; they have free shipping over $100, totally worth it.

In addition, the sizes are also different from other companies. Bauspiel are in multiples of 2.5cm. That makes their blocks 10 x 5 x 2,5 cm. You cannot stack the blocks in the exactly same way. when mixed with other brands. Your kids’ brains on their toes as they work with blocks of different measurement systems.

Video review of the Bauspiel Blocks

Montessori + Holztiger Animal 3 Part Card Series – Printable

Do you have wooden animals? A bunch of Holztiger perhaps? And looking for new ways to help your children learn about animals?

I created this Montessori type three part card series for the Holztiger animals (don’t worry Ostheimer and Schleich lovers, I’m making sets for you too).

The Montessori three part card series is much more than a flashcard – it helps children learn words through sight, assign them to a visual representation (a photo), and match.

To make a three part series you will need to make 2 (TWO) copies of the pdf. Then the first page you cut along the lines with each animal and their name. On the second copy you have, cut the animals AND the words.

For longevity, I recommend laminating the papers. The Scotch Thermal laminator is $21.99 on sale and is a work horse.

To play:

Place a small group of animal cards out on a table. I recommend 4-6 cards. For younger children, use the animal+name card. You can group the animals by type (reptile, mammal, bird) or location (Africa, wildlife, Australia, woodland, farm), or something else (what you have on hand).

Then, place the animal cards (without name) and name only cards in another pile. Now show your children how this works if they have never done this before.

Once you model how to match, let them try!

Other ways to play:

Match the card to the wooden toy animal.

Match the animal card (without name) to the name card.

How to get the Holztiger animal printables for FREE. Sign-up below using the link and you’ll get cards delivered to you. Currently the Africa set is available but I’m working hard to get the rest done!

Signup for the Holztiger Animal 3 Part Card Series

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Grimms 1001 Nights Puzzle: Know Which Pieces Fit

If you own more than one Grimms Spiel und Holz block set, chances are you have come across the problem of knowing WHICH blocks go in WHICH sets.

Even I don’t remember, and neither do the kids. If you do want to put the set together with the original pieces, here’s my quick guide on the 1001 Nights Building Set.

There are 50 blocks in the set. Here are the types of blocks:

If you’re on the fence of purchasing a 1001, check out my video reviewing it.

5 Etsy Products of the Week – American Women Owned Businesses

This week I am featuring five products from female small business owners. They are all based in the US. They are all awesome.

Custom Peg doll – Need a peg doll to match your kid’s room? Or their favorite character? Jen is your gal. Her peg dolls are exquisite and the details are mind blowing.

Stacking hearts set by Sensory Play – $40 – This set of 6 wooden hearts are made from cherry and rainbow poplar. You don’t see many woodworkers using rainbow poplar so I find it to be real treat. Also, owner Magda is wonderful and based in the US. She also has a great Montessori and Waldorf wood toys.

Unicorns from Cranberry Creek Forest – If there is one wooden toy Cranberry Creek Forest is known for is its unicorn collection. Choose from a varieties of manes, these unicorns are more feminine looking than the well known Ostheimer Unicorn.

Narwhal from Cranberry Creek Forest – I’ve not seen anyone else making narwhals. And what’s not to love about the unicorn of the sea? Watch the BBC documentary (the one on the Arctic and Antarctic) and have your narwhals break the ice too!

Hundred Board from Mirus Toys – A gold standard in Montessori math and beyond, the hundred board is your go to for all things math. Order the wooden balls or wool balls with it (add-on in the menu) and help your children visualize AND love numbers. Plus you are supporting a brown woman business based in Washington state!

Custom Birthday Ring from Moth and Moonstone- Can’t find the birthday ring you want? Ask Katy and she will paint you an exquisite custom piece.

Hope you discovered some new businesses and get sucked into their gorgeous collections like I have!

As always, there are referral links above. I earn a small commission if you purchase something through that link. I appreciate your support from the bottom of my heart.

Montessori 3 Letter CVC Words {FREE Printable}

Kids home on that never-ending staycation?

This is a fun way to learn three letter words, the Montessori way. I made 50 (or more, I cannot remember) three letter CVC words. Then you take the individual letter and match them to the word.

More advanced children can use the a,e,i,o,u chart and make three letter words of their own.

I will caution that you should give your children this activity if they are already into learning letters and words. Don’t give this to kids who don’t have any interest. Best age group is 4-7 years old, basically kindergartners.

Things you can do:

Match words to physical objects. Fox to a wooden toy fox, Pen to a pen, etc.

Group words by sounds. Cat, hat, mat. Ram, fan, dam. You can do this for younger children while older kids can hunt for the words.

Find similar letter. If you group by sounds, you will find a common vowel. What is it? What other words have that vowel?

What you need:

Printer – color printed is needed. You want kids to learn the difference between consonants and vowels.

Laminator – It’s a bit of an investment but SO GOOD TO HAVE! I own the Scotch laminator but people also rave about the Amazon one. Either way, be sure to buy laminating sheets (will work with both brands).

Download the FREE printables:

Feel free to share the link with friends. Feeling extra sweet? Send a dollar to cover my chai costs (at home of course) in Venmo. It’s silly to say but I need to say it: please do not upload the pdfs to your own site, sell them, commercialize them.

Stay at home, stay safe! Remember you don’t have to home school overnight. Keep your kids’ brain occupied and you’re doing more than enough as a parent.

Indian Printable Coloring Pages {FREE}

Trying to figure out how to entertain the kids for 10 minutes while you try to have conference call? I don’t know either.

But I do have these lovely printables I made. They’re Indian’y with Indian secular motifs and famous places like the Taj Mahal and Lotus Temple.

They will keep the kiddos entertained while we are in lockdown/stay at home from the coronavirus.

Here are three that I have done so far. And check out my coloring page for Holi (did anyone even get to celebrate in 2020?!).

Feel free to share the link with friends. Feeling extra sweet? Send a dollar to cover my chai costs (at home of course) in Venmo. It’s silly to say but I need to say it: please do not upload the pdfs to your own site, sell them, commercialize them.

Also check out the Montessori 3 letter CVC word packet.

Stay safe and shelter in place!

Best Shops to Buy Paint Your Own Wooden Toys

Sometimes you want wooden toys to be in your own color scheme. Or you want them cheaper than the major brands. Or you want to go crazy with the limited time of raising that you decide painting 100 little mushrooms is a *good idea*.

I’ve been there and back. Painting your own wooden toys take time and effort. What paints to use, what sealants to use, and where to buy from.

I put together this list of Etsy sellers who make their own wooden toys. You can purchase them unfinished, sand them, paint them, and seal them to your own color scheme.

I choose only small businesses because 1. support small business!, 2. skips out on “made in we don’t know where” products. All the products listed are made by artisans themselves. Some are in the US, a couple in the UK, and a few in Russia.

If you have a photo you’d like to share of your wooden creation, please contact me and I’d be happy to post it here.

Disclosure: The links to purchase these toys at Etsy are affiliate. I make a tiny amount of commission for each sale made through the links below. It costs you nothing but helps me cover my costs to continue writing and maintaining this site. Thank you for the support!

Orlando Wooden Toys – Recommended products: 9 piece wood semicircle, 12 piece wooden rainbows (disappears from stock quickly!), 6 piece Wooden Wave Stacker Toy. Plus, plenty of super cute teethers. Buy them unfinished if you want to paint them.

Clickity Clack – SO MANY PRETTY THINGS. They come unfinished so you may need to sand some items. All my peg dolls are from here and oh my, the baby bumble bees are the cutest.

I went through each peg doll listing and pulled their dimensions. This should help you when building your collection. Below is a photo I took of all the Clickity Clack people I own. They #1, #4, #5, #2, and #10.

No. 1 Large Angel/Woman peg dolls measuring 3-1/2 inches tall and 1-1/2 inches wide.

No. 4 Tall Man Peg Dolls measuring 3 9/16 inches tall.

#5 Large Boy Peg Doll is 2-5/16 inches tall with a 7/8 inch base

The #8 Small Boy Peg Doll is 1-11/16 inches tall and 5/8 inches wide.

#11 Hard Hat Guy/Helmet Head Peg Dolls – 2-1/8 inches tall with a ¾ inch base and a 1-1/16 diameter hat.

#2 Small Angel/Girl – 2 inches tall and 7/8 inches wide

No. 6 Little Woman peg dolls measuring 2 -1/4 inches tall and 3/4 inches wide. They have a flat bottom.

#3 Girl with Skirt Peg Dolls measuring 2 inches tall with a 5/8 inch diameter base.

#7 Little Tots Peg Doll is 1-3/16 inches tall and 5/8 inches wide.

#10 Bumble bee/baby – 1-3/16 tall like the Little Tots, but has a curved body that is 5/8 inch at the widest point. They have a flat bottom only 3/8 inch wide. Chocking hazard! One of the kids favorite peg people.

They also sell vehicles that match to the sizes of the people (READ the listing properly!). Go crazy, the prices are great and they are made in the USA.

Cedar Oaks– They make wine racks but they also make peg dolls. Sizes are pretty standard and below are the sizes currently for sale. Of course confirm with the owner in case you need the peg doll to fit something specific.

Dads – 2-3/8″ tall x 7/8″ wide
Moms – 2-1/4″ tall x 3/4″ wide
Girls – 2″ tall x 7/8″ wide
Boys – 1-11/16″ tall x 5/8″ wide
Babies – 1-1/8″ tall x 5/8″ wide

ROSTOKToys – The prices are amazing. I have the sorting bowls with mushrooms, rattle, lacing vegetable beads, and nesting dolls. The shipping will cost a lot as with most of the other shops, but I love the quality. Made in Russia by a family, all the products are popular with the kiddos.

I Used to be a Tree – The name of the store is adorable. I haven’t shopped here personally, but I am eyeing the wooden acorns and kokeshi dolls. Who wouldn’t fall in love with the roundness?!

Kokeshi doll sizes: 1 Large – 4″ Tall
1 Medium – 3 1/4″ Tall
1 Small – 2 1/2″ Tall
1 Teeny – 2 1/8: Tall
1 Tiny – 1 1/2″ Tall

Crafty Wool Felt – The owner has a beautiful collection of felt products. Felt balls and sheets and ready made pieces – it’s all eye candy. She also has a small collection of wooden items: people, trees, spools, beads, snowmen.

House Mountain Natural – Delightful wooden food, eco friendly baby gift sets, and paint your own wood pieces, Ross has a lovely collection.

Bob Hudson Wood Crafts – Need wooden animals? Why yes, you do. Bob makes lots of wooden animals and wooden Christmas pieces. Based in Connecticut, it’s another made in the USA toy.

Have a shop I should include or photos to share? Let me know!

The Christmas Gift Guide for Newborns to 1 Year Olds

Can I tell you a secret? A secret you can share with a new mom. In fact, promise me you’ll share this with another mom.

You don’t need fancy toys to entertain a baby.


First of all, newborns only care about three things: milk (from your boob or a bottle), snuggling and cuddling with a warm body, and having their diaper changed. When it comes to entertainment, newborns love being outside, they love looking at trees and leaves, and they love looking at faces. Guess what, all these things are free!

Now, here’s when life gets tricky. Babies evoke ALL THE FEELS in us. Utter happiness, misery, sleeplessness, joy, pain, you name it. We also all want what’s best for our babies, so we tend to over shop. Families too.

My list here is a combination of things you can find at home and simply elegant toys. They are not battery operated, they are not over-colored willy nilly junk, these are toys that benefit their development without overwhelming them (and you).

A word of warning. A lot of Amazon listed toys today come from unbranded/off brand companies from China. They’re Chinese companies selling plastic and wood toys at a fraction of the price. Do your research. Amazon does not check compliance for meeting toy safety standards for the US or the EU (in the same they don’t check for copyright infringement and fake books)

Make sure you, family, and friends understand the need to purchase quality, well known brands (more on popular brands coming soon in a post) because of counterfeiting, evasion of toy safety standards, and in some cases, poor human rights records.

If you want an easy list of good retailers, check out my Cyber Monday list supporting small businesses.

Now on to the good stuff! The 0-12 month period for a baby

Tupperware, pots and pans, wooden spoons, kitchen utensils – Notice something here? They’re all things you can find in the kitchen! Look no further than your cabinets to entertain a crawling/sitting baby.

Teething? No problem. Give them a wooden spoon or a silicon straw.

Want to make noise? Fill a tupperware with dry beans and seal it shut with tape (avoid the choking hazard). Give them a few pots and a few wood spoons and let them bang on them. They will probably bang on your cabinets, the floor, you, and themselves, but guess what? You can teach them about density and materials composition? “Ohhh, I see you found the tile floor. How does the wooden spoon sound when you bang on it? Your kiddo won’t answer btw, but probably giggle. “Look at that! A metal spoon on a metal pot, that’s pretty loud!”

Want to teach them colors and food? Grab a bunch of different dry beans and pastas and put them in containers. Seal them with tape and hand them to baby. You can talk about colors, sizes, shapes, whatever you want.

Now for toys you can buy. These are developmentally appropriate, foster thinking and curiously, and lack the flashy beeps and bops of traditional battery operated toys.

LOVEVERY Play Subscription – Go on autopilot with this nice collection of curated toys for newborns to two years old. Easy for family to pitch in and you get just a few toys every month. Some of the toys are inspired by Montesorri ideas (like the Imbucare box, circles), others are Waldorf inspired (e.g. blocks).

Grimms Pebbles – Are they rocks? Are they plastic? No, they’re wood! Light and soft, the Grimms pebbles are fun for stacking, matching colors, and even a little chewing. As your baby gets older, the pebbles can be used in imaginary play as grass, water, sand, and whatever your child conjures.

Jellycat Tails books – I never knew the magic of crinkle books until I was gifted the Jellycat tails books. Rainbow tails, farm tails, jungle tails, the series is a hoot. Babies love the books to chew on, crush with their fingers, and throw. The whole series is fun, so pick one you like.

Plan Toys Baby Key Rattle – Just like the plastic counterpart from popular brands, this sweet wood key rattle is perfect for teething babies. And babies who want throw stuff (which, by the way, are all babies). Good for 4 months old and up.

Stacking bowls and boxes – Stacking blocks, stacking bowls, stacking cubes, stacking cups, stacking pacifiers, you name it and a toddler will stack it. I love the black and white Grimms stacking bowls and nesting cubes. Yes, they are pricey, but they will last several years. They are durable and are multi-functional. Babies, toddlers, and even young children love stacking filling containers and moving them around.

Pounding toy – $12.99 on amazon – What better way to bash stuff than to give your young toddler a toy that *can* be bashed! The Melissa and Doug pounding toy is great for those little hands. Good for babies 10 months+, this toy hits its stride with 15 months and up. Make sure to supervise baby so they don’t pound their fingers (or remove the ‘hammer’ and let them use their hands to press the pegs in).

Manhattan Toy Skwish – $13.99-$16.99 depending on color on Amazon – My baby received the Skwish when he was 10 months old. He didn’t really know what to do with it except throw it around. By 12 months old, he loved it! Throwing it, squishing it, stretching it; this was clearly a hit! Having never seen one in my life until then, I eventually ended up three Skwishes (other parent friends getting rid of them). Again, super fun. E

Even when my toddler was 3 years he would play with it. I’d tell him to step on it and stretch it as if he were angry – win on the expressing feelings front!

Teethers – Not just a gift, but to also protect your insanity once baby begins teething and chewing on everything like a wild golden retriever. Freezing teethers can be frozen – your kiddo will have a love/hate relationship but they are worth it because they will last a few years as your little one goes teething nuts. Then they are jelly like keys, wood teethers, silicon based beads, the famous Sophie la Giraffe for babies to chew on. You will want 4-5 of teething items because they get lost easily and your baby will go in phases of what they love. Have them on hand now.

Toothbrush + Toothpaste – You probably can’t believe it, but by the time your newborn becomes a one year old, they will sprout some of teethy fangs. Create good habits with daily brushing. At this time you need a teeny tiny bit of fluoride free toothpaste ( Jill and Jack toothpaste creates eco friendly packaging and products) and a soft toothbrush. You can use a finger toothbrush, a bamboo toothbrush, or a silicon toothbrush. Whatever works for you and baby.

Bonus: for a luxury item, the LOVEVERY play gym.

As always, babies must be supervised when playing.