Chetopa, KS couple builds toys from scratch to bring imaginative play to children

Chetopa, KS couple builds toys from scratch to bring imaginative play to children
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Ivan Rexwinkle Stacey Lindsay.jpg

Ivan Rexwinkle traded real cows for wood ones.

A former cattleman, he makes toys by hand, from scratch.

“I wanted to do something, to create something, that kids will have an imagination to do something,” he said. “I don’t care whether it’s it to go out there and go into business, you know. Not everything push button and all that kinds of stuff like that.”

It started out as a way to make his grandchildren and great grandchildren gifts. Now ivan spends most of his time working away in his garage, Carving wood into farm animals, feeder lots, barns and even work trucks.

His wife Barbara adds the finishing touches with non-toxic paint.

“I do some nailing and things like that once in a while, but he’s the creator,” said Barbara.

With every new design he imagines, ivan makes sure to build it so it’s sturdy–and ultimately affordable for parents.

Pediatrician Dr. Lance Jepson of the Southeast Kansas Community Health Center says imaginative play with such simple tools helps build developmental skills.

“I really encourage families to work on having the opportunity to have more of these toys, the wooden toys, more of your basic toys, to get those basic skills developed rather than relying so much on the electronic devices we have so readily available.”

“These games and things like that, they don’t think no thought.”

Ivan and Barbara say the biggest reward they receive from the toys, is seeing the kids and parents reaction.

“That really why we keep doing it.”

Finding business through word of mouth, Ivan says he enjoys spending so much time working on the toys.

And when asked what is the secret to making a child light up, he says it’s giving them creative opportunities and time.

“You have to listen to them,” say says.

The Rexwinkles make about 500 to 600 wood toys a year.