What are open ended toys? Open ended toys are those that can be used in a variety of ways. Different ways depending on your child’s mood, interests, desires, abilities or imagination. These types of toys are our absolute favourite because they foster play, creativity, imagination and in some cases, critical thinking and problem solving. There is no real pre-intended agenda with these toys, so the child can lead the play in a way they see fit.
I thought it might be a good idea to list some (only SOME) of our favourite open ended toys. Feel free to refer to this list the next time you’re shopping for a young person’s birthday or Christmas gift.
- Magnetic tiles
- Wooden blocks
- Pretend food (wooden or plastic) We prefer wooden
- Kitchen utensils/ cutlery and crockery/ table cloths etc
- Dress ups including scarves, glasses, hats and other accessories
- Tools such as hammers, screwdrivers etc etc
Dolls House and dolls play
- Animal figurines from various species. Zoo/ Farm/ Insects/ Dinosaurs/ Ocean/ Pets etc
- Setting accessories. Pretend fences, grass, trees etc to make the homes for these creatures
- All types of transport. Again, we prefer wooden but you can find some great plastic ones too. Think cars/ trucks/ planes/ busses/ trains etc etc
Sensory Play Resources
- Sand or Kinetic Sand
- Water beads
- Seeds and grains
- Shells and rocks
- Sticks/ twigs/ leaves
If you have a good look at this list, you will notice that all of these toys are battery free. We have made the choice to NOT buy L any toys that require battery operation. Many toys that need to be powered have only one intended use (not all powered toys, but many) and do not lend themselves to open ended play. Think of video games and battery operated toy laptops etc. You press a button, the toy makes a sound. Or the video game is played with one sole purpose and that’s the only way to engage. Whereas open ended toys require our children to think about how to use the toy in a more creative way. Please know that we are not “the fun police” in our house! Haha! We know that battery operated toys have their place and can certainly be engaging. But while L is still so little, and we can guide him, we would like to encourage him to play with mostly open ended and battery free things. “If it has a battery, then it’s not likely to be in our play room” is our motto… FOR NOW and we’ll see what the future holds. We always maintain an open attitude towards these things because we know that as our family grows, so may our ideas and needs.
I hope that this article has given you some great ideas for your playroom or your next gift! Open ended play is so good for your child’s learning and development so I would encourage you to make sure that at least 5 of these suggestions find their way into your playroom soon.
Thanks for reading, and as always, feel free to comment your thoughts and ideas below.