Völuskrín – Early Icelandic Children’s Toys [Iceland Unit Study]

I like to include a native toy or vintage toy for each county in my unit studies. As the world has become smaller through the invention of technology, unique toys to certain cultures become difficult to find.

As I prepped for our Iceland unit, I stumbled upon the history of the Völuskrín. Years ago, children in Iceland often lived in farmhouses and had limited toys – most of which were handmade. Under their beds in small boxes called Völuskrín, they amassed their playthings, small toys made of an assortment of things that they found while playing or working on the farms. Through their imagination, these tiny bones, bobbins and other strange things soon became important parts of an imaginary world. Sheep bones were the most common toys. The bones were meant to represent farm animals and each child had its own farm. The children went to great lengths to make their farms big and have many animals.

I wanted to recreate this for my girls and show how we can use our imaginations, but didn’t want to go to the butcher for bones. So I decided to draw them. You can download my drawings HERE.

If you ever visit Iceland, designer Lóa Auðunsdóttir recreated the Völuskrín as a children’s toy, which is marketed throughout the country, and is intended to promote and re-establish the original Icelandic toys for generations to come and introduce this heritage to children all over the world.

I decided to take this activity one step further, and create my own bones with Super Sculpey. This semi-flexible clay worked great and created some rather realistic bones. You can buy this at most craft stores, or online on AMAZON.

I first printed out and laminated my bone drawings and let the girls design their bones based on these photos. We included jaw bones, long bones and knuckle bones.

My youngest just mashed the clay around. My oldest actually made some semi-real looking long bones and I just tweaked them a bit. We then baked our creations.

Now the fun part – to play with the bones. Icelandic children used to pretend the different bones were sheep, horses, etc., but my kiddos pretended they were cars, fences, etc. It’s so much fun to see how the little imaginations mold their world.

I never thought playing with bones would be fun, but we had a nice afternoon playing in the imaginary world that we created – it’s so much fun to use one’s imagination! 🙂

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