What are Open-Ended Toys?

What are they and why are they GREAT?

If you are a parent of a young child, I am sure you have heard the phrase “open-ended toys” before. Maybe you have heard it by a mom at the park, a friend, or a child care provider. So what is an open-ended toy, you ask? Well, it simply means that it can played in many ways. There is no limit to the possibilities of an open ended toy. It helps develops and foster creativity and imagination. Here are some examples of great open-ended toys:

educational toys

1.       Building materials (blocks, Legos, Magnet tiles etc.)

educational toys

2.       Plastic animals

3.       Items for a play kitchen: food and cooking/eating utensils

4.       Dress up clothes and accessories

5.       Dr. kits

6.       Tools and tinkering related toys

7.       Cars

8.       Dolls & Doll house

9.       Art activities

10.   Sensory (sand, water, dried beans, water beads etc.)

educational toys

The list goes on and on. There are SO many great open-ended toys to stimulate a developing brain. These toys can help foster creativity and imagination because a block can turn into a robot and a building in one game and then a phone or a boat in another. Whereas, if you have an electronic toy or a character from a movie, this can stifle the way the child thinks about how to use these items. For example, this singing toy only sings. I push this button and it sings. There is not much imagination that can be used to expand on the play of this toy. Or a character doll/figure from a movie or show. The child tends to play with this toy by acting out a scene they have watched, thus limiting their creativity. This does not mean to throw out all toys that are not open ended and to not allow your child to play with these toy;, but you can help your child by giving them ideas on some open ended toys to compliment their play. For example, if you see your child playing with a character, maybe you can also place out some blocks or Legos next to them, so they can expand their play. Lastly, open-ended toys do not always need to be purchased. Some great toys can be found in your home; old boxes and containers, used spice jars etc. Anything that your child can unscrew, manipulate, color, cut, glue, put things in and take things out of are great additions to playtime.