The world is ever-changing, and we all want our kids to be physically and mentally equipped and trained to navigate through the changes easily and effortlessly. If you, too, wonder how to inculcate these in your kids, make them better at handling various issues, and improve their problem-solving skills, open-ended plays are a must. As a parent, our mindful investment in toys that inspire open-ended plays is vital.
What are open-ended toys?
Toys that the kids of different age groups can play with in numerous ways, invested in for long hours, are open-ended toys. These toys allow them to think for themselves, act out real-life scenarios and express their creativity in multiple ways. Anyone at any age can play with open-ended toys: babies, early toddlers, pre-schoolers and beyond.
In simple words, toys that inspire open-ended plays are open-ended toys. Open-ended toys are 90% child and 10% toy based, giving plenty of room for inputs to come from the child. The concept ‘Less is more’ can be best explained with open-ended toys.
Here are ten open-ended toys that promote creativity and learning 🔽
Legos have been around for years. One can build almost anything with legos, from models of skyscrapers to robots, by rearranging them in the shapes that one desires. This helps give life to the user’s imagination. Legos come in various shapes and colours too.
2. Letter Blocks or Magnetic Letters
Letter blocks are not only useful in teaching children about word formations and new vocabulary but also offer a fun way to express what’s on their mind. They can get creative with new words or leave funny messages to each other with them. Magnetic letters can be rearranged on the fridge door every day to teach kids a new word per day.
3. Doll house
Who doesn’t love a doll house? They come with a variety of dolls, furniture and an empty house. These give children the freedom to rearrange the dolls and furniture according to their whims and fancies. Also, there is no instruction pamphlet instructing the users as to what furniture goes where. A tea party with Barbie and her friends on a Monday can turn into a quiet dinner with iron man and the avengers on a Tuesday.
Out of the different items available for kids in the market, this age-old art supply is the most versatile one. From painting on paper to painting pottery and even fabrics, it can be used to decorate and enhance almost anything. Painting offers a lot of opportunities for one to express their creativity and allows for a huge scope of imagination. Children can learn about different types of colours and their mixing with each other to give secondary colours.
5. White Board
Almost anybody can use this play item. It is used to draw or write whatever one wishes. It can be used to play Pictionary and other games. It is a great means of teaching and learning simultaneously. You can casually draw or scribble new ideas on it, with the perks of being able to erase it later and use it to express something new.
6. Play Dough
Do you want an inexpensive and easy relaxing activity for your hands after a long day? Playdough is the answer. Playdough is loved by people of all ages. Much like legos, playdough allows the user to bring to life almost anything they can imagine. Playing with playdough has proven to improve fine motor senses in young children. So they can be used as an exercise to build and strengthen these senses as well.
7. Binoculars or Telescope
These devices can be used in multiple ways. They make way for a person’s inquisitiveness to grow in different directions. They are great tools to learn about one’s surroundings. Children can enjoy not just the thrill it offers but also learn new things with the help of it.
Tents come with multiple poles, attachments and soft satin tent cloths. Most of them are convertible and can be used to accommodate 1, 2, 3 or 4 people. Tents can be used outdoors and indoors too. Are you planning a lakeside camping trip or narrating bedtime stories in your room when it is raining outdoors? Go for it as people of different age groups can enjoy it.
9. Kinetic sand
Similar to clay dough, kinetic sand allows the user to knead it as they like. It gives the children the feel of playing with sand on a beach. Most children living in cities have not experienced playing with sand. Kinetic sand offers them this opportunity and, at the same time, doesn’t create a mess in their vicinity.
Balls are probably one of the most common yet versatile toys used in various sports activities. The best of all, you can play with it in more than a hundred ways. Kids love it and it comes in various sizes and colours. Plus, you can find it easily in any store. The development of basic actions- throw, kick, roll, aim, catch and strategizing all happens with a dose of unmatched fun.
Benefits of open-ended toys:
- All the above toys not only offer ways to enhance one’s creativity and imagination skills, but they also offer more than one way to express it.
- Open-ended toys keep the kids occupied for long hours, away from the screen- it is something which almost every parent wants.
- If you struggle in getting your kid to play independently, open-ended toys help encourage independent play.
- Kids learn to keep themselves entertained with open-ended toys.
- Open-ended toys help in improving a child’s problem-solving skills.
- Open-ended toys help stretch cognitive skills in children.
- They also aid self-regulation.
Open-ended toys can be affordable depending upon the choice, whether wooden or plastic or elastic ones. Wooden open-ended toys usually last for a very long time but are generally expensive.
Wooden Vs Plastic Toys:
At our place, we care for sustainable toys, and we believe in mindful investments in toys. So, our preferences are usually the open-ended wooden ones over the plastic toys when choosing between the above two types. And as per our experience and learnings, the wooden ones are the real open-ended toys. Wooden open-ended toys are a little expensive, but they are usually one-time investment which lasts long. But because children outgrow a toy very quickly, so the inclination towards plastic toy purchase feels attractive.
But if the objective or purpose is clear in toy selection for kids, then open-ended toys require only a one-time investment, especially for first-time parents. And in my opinion, kids do not really need too many toys to keep themselves entertained. If we as parents bring toys to nurture their creative and imaginative skills, then even a stick in hand can become a toy- a magic wand or a sword or a cricket bat.
Do we need expensive open-ended toys?
My answer to the above is ‘No’.
As parents, we get enticed seeing high-end colourful toys, dome climbers, and expensive hot wheelsets on Instagram, but frankly speaking, kids do not need expensive open-ended toys.
But there are three things we do not compromise our investments on for our little one, first is BOOKS, second is Lego sets, thirdly cars.
Lego sets are something we’ve intuitively felt guided towards; also, his Lego classes needed the initial investments, so are his collections. Fondness for cars, he has inherited from his grandfather and father. You can read about his love for cars at the blog ‘A to Z Gratitude game‘. We have a declutter charity-based practice in place for ‘CARS’ and toys, so the investment in cars reminds us of the bigger purpose it serves us with.
Having said that, I nowhere disregard anyone’s interest in expensive toys. And we too have commercialized toys, expensive electronic toys at home, but they have either been gifted by friends and family members on birthdays or festivals or passed on to my little one from his elder cousins. We have pre-loved open-ended toys too.
Our emphasis is teaching our little one basic life skills, instilling the attitude of gratitude for things he has and fostering an environment where he gets plenty of room to think and create imaginative plays independently.
Let us know what open-ended toys connect with you for your little ones. Also, let us know which part of the blog resonated with you the most. If you found it helpful, share it with your family members and friends.
Thank you for reading! Happy parenting!