Open-ended toys go hand in hand with imaginary play. That’s because an open-ended toy is a toy that allows our children to play in a way where they are stimulating their creating thinking.
They are toys that can be played with in a mulitude of ways. Each child’s interpretation of the toy may vary, different games will be thought up and different lessons will be learnt.
How do we decide what an open-ended toy is?
Can it be used in unlimited ways?
Can it be used by multiple ages?
Can it be used to match and sort by colour/shape/ size?
Can it be used to count/ visualise mathematical concepts?
Can it be used to design and create patterns?
Can it be used as loose parts to add to construction play or imaginative play?
Can it be used to explore different concepts like light and shadow?
Can it be used to build and construct?
Can it be used to create small worlds
Does it encourage movement and the development of fine-motor skills?
Does it allow language opportunities in the way of introducing a wide range of vocabulary?
Does it encourage role play/pretend play?
Can it be used to create and tell stories?
Can it be used in water for bath play/sensory play?
Can it be used with other sensory mediums like sand, playdough etc?
Will it help to develop skills like problem-solving, trial and error, creativity and perseverance?
OK, so what are my top 10 open-ended toys?
- Wooden Blocks
- Dress up clothes
- Doll’s (including superheroes)/Doll’s houses
- Farmhouses/Fire Houses/Castles
- Cars/Transport toys
- A sandpit/Water table
- Nature – sticks, stones, water, mud.
The reality is, that we don’t need to spend thousands of rands on toys that we ‘think’ might be educational. Many of the above mentioned toys can be made at home, using ingredients in our kitchens, left over boxes and crayons, even just a bag of old clothes that mom and dad don’t wear anymore.
But the everlasting impact of allowing our chidren to play freely whilst they are young, is a gift that we as parents can give to them
Jacqui Bester is firstly a wife, and mom to five rambunctious children who drive her nuts and fill her heart with unspeakable joy all in the space of a single day. She writes about her day to day adventures and misadventures in parenting, life and marriage. Jacqui is known for sharing a brutally honest account of her MESSY “mamahood”… the joy, the fun, the laughter and the tears. She enjoys a good mystery-crime novel with a lovely glass of red wine, trying out new foods and restaurants with her hubby on the odd date-night, exploring new places, learning new skills, and generally anything else that calls for a more adventurous approach to life. You can find her over on One Messy Mama.