The new school year is kicking off in many areas around the country. Whether you are heading back to the classroom this Fall or continuing to learn at home, we love seeing all the enthusiasm and new ideas being incorporated into your learning centers. One concept we can’t get enough of is open-ended play. No matter the age of your kids or the setting of your child’s education, open-ended toys create endless learning opportunities!
April Karschner from @unknitandtiedtogether talks about her family’s love for open-ended toys. We recently sent her this new exclusive Knop Knop Classroom Building Kit to see how her 5 kids would work with it. It is such a great addition because of all the obvious STEAM-learning opportunities and team-building focus, but the pieces are also soft and machine washable! WIN WIN WIN!
Let’s take a look!
Let’s chat open-ended toys, and all the reasons I’m glad we put a greater focus on them and what I’ve learned since doing so. But first, what are open-ended toys? They’re toys that have no rules, presets, or stories associated with them. They require kids to use their imagination. For example, a block can be part of a house, a castle, a road, a fence, a carrot, a toad stool and so on. It can be whatever your kid wants it to be; their imagination creates the story where these toys are concerned. So, why do we love them in our house?
CREATIVITY AND IMAGINATION
Open-ended toys allow a child’s creativity and imagination to come alive. Suddenly their blocks are a doghouse for their favorite stuffie, the magnetic tiles are a spaceship to take their dinosaur to the moon, or their Knop Knops have transformed them into the karate ninja they were begging you to be. There are no rules, therefore there is no wrong way to play with these toys.
NO AGE LIMIT
Open-ended toys work for all age groups, meaning that my 3 year olds can play with the same toys as my 8 year old, and Mom can have fun building and creating too. The play with these toys does not diminish as your children get older, it just gets reinvented.
Because open-ended toys require the use of imagination, they tend to hold a kid’s attention for longer; and what’s not to love about that?
Open-ended toys get more play because they don’t have a definitive purpose. They can be used to make and create anything a child can dream up, which means children will come back to them time and time again.
INDEPENDENT OR GROUP PLAY
Open-ended toys can be played with independently or as part of a group activity. Sometimes I’ll find my kids off by themselves playing with a scene or item they’ve created. Other times, they’ll work together to make a village, or big brother will help the younger kids build the garbage truck he invented. Both types of play have benefits and value.
They’re cost effective. While most would say there is a bigger investment upfront for a lot of open-ended toys, in the long run you’ll actually save money (assuming you don’t just keep buying more like me.) That’s because they work for multiple ages; and oftentimes they’re built to last for the long haul. Meaning you can pass them down to your kids’ kids one day, or even just have them around for those times when you’re asked to babysit or friends with young kids stop by to visit.
DECISION MAKING AND PROBLEM SOLVING
Open-ended toys help develop decision making and problem solving in young children. Just watch a toddler try and figure out how to create the building they’re after or watch them attempt to recreate a figure their older siblings built. You can almost see the wheels turning in their heads, as they try to make it work.
And there you have it. All the reasons I love open-ended toys and why I’m glad we took the plunge and put a greater focus on them in our home. So whether you just have one child, a basketball team of them, or are just looking for ways to enhance the play in your classroom, I highly recommend putting the focus on toys that are open-ended. The play you’ll witness when their imaginations come alive is 100% worth it!
Why do you love Open-Ended Toys?
WEDGiTS Class Pack - WGT-300029
410 Piece Big Building Set - PPL-1
HashMag Building Set - MFP-55
4 in 1 Rainbow Stacking Set - CP-056
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