Open-Ended Toys Are Great for Development

Imagination. The key to all areas of development in children: emotional, social, physical, linguistic, and problem-solving skills. Imagination is at the core of everything that we enjoy in life as adults. Everything from books and tv shows to recipes. It all involves exploring beyond the obvious and stretching our minds to what could be.


Open-ended play is the best way for children to explore and develop their imaginations. Providing your child with open-ended toys sets your child up to succeed in developing their imagination and fostering their creative outlets.


What are Open-Ended Toys?

Open-ended toys for toddlers go beyond one specific and obvious purpose. These toys for preschoolers can be played with in various ways that encourage the child to stretch their minds and unleash their creativity.

Some common examples of open-ended toys for toddlers are:


Magnet Tiles

Wooden Blocks

Art Easels

Rainbow Stacker

Stacking Cups


Many parents refer to these as “forever toys” for several reasons. The first is that they will grow with your child. They are not directed at a specific age group, so your toddler will find new ways to play with these toys as they grow and develop.


You can compare this concept to toys marketed directly at infants, toddlers, or a specific age group. Those targeted age group toys can easily be identified as toys for toddlers that your kiddo will outgrow within a year or two, either due to size or intent.


Another reason open-ended toys for toddlers are encouraged and beloved by many parents: they are typically made with natural materials and do not require batteries. Natural materials give the toys a more classic look and appeal. While they are available in muted or bright colors, the toys’ concept and purpose will not become dated. Many parents choose to invest in these toys, knowing they will last for years and hold up for multiple children.


Kids Want Open-Ended Toys

If you have ever had a conversation with a small child, you know that their mind is focused on anything and everything. They notice everything and point out the smallest things, which usually happens at a time that is highly embarrassing for the adults.


Kids don’t do this to misbehave or even necessarily for attention. Their minds are constantly working to understand the world around them. One of the ways they learn about their world is through play. So, encouraging playtime that they are in control of is an outlet for them to explore and ask you all the burning questions running through their brains.


Play Time is Open for Business

Play-based learning is child-led, where the adults take a step back to allow toddlers to play however they feel led. Adults are there to participate in ways the child asks them to, but the goal is for the child to direct the playtime without restrictions.


Having control over the narrative of their playtime is an excellent way for kids to learn about the world around them and understand and appreciate the different people in their lives and how best to interact with them. Open-ended toys require kids to think outside the box.


In addition, when playing with their peers, they are exposed to the roles and guidelines that other kids come up with based on their lived experience.


This type of play requires toys that foster non-restrictive playtime. While toys for toddlers with music and flashing lights are wonderful, they tend to allow kids to zone out and do not require active participation. Active participation in play is necessary for natural brain growth and development.


Endless Possibilities

In addition to the toys listed above, the Nugget couch has developed an almost cult following in the mommy community. It is not without good reason. The nugget couch comes in various colors and patterns that parents love, but more importantly, it can transform into practically any shape you or your child can imagine.

Now, if a product like that feels out of your price range or you do not have the space for it, take it from us: toddlers love a sectional couch. Let your toddler play with the cushions and build imaginative configurations.

Did we mention there are blankets everywhere? Oh, also, you don’t have cardboard boxes anymore—you have extreme car ramps and art canvases.


Toy Rotation

A great way to encourage your toddlers’ open-ended playtime is to rotate their toys. We talked about how flashing lights and sounds can be distracting to kids and stifle their imagination. Having too many toys available at all times, whether wooden or plastic, can also cause overstimulation and boredom.


Rotating your toddlers’ toys involves having a select number of open-ended toys available to your child at all times in areas that are easy for them to view and put away when playtime is over. Displaying on open shelves or labeling bins with photos of what belongs in the bin are both great ways to accomplish this.


Every few months, while your child is sleeping, take toys you have stashed away and switch them out with their current toys on the shelves. This strategy does not involve buying new toys for your toddler every few months; you are using toys you already own but simply presenting a small portion of them to your toddler at one time.


The feelings that kids have on their birthday when they wake up and have a slew of new toys can be recreated on a regular basis. It’s the same feeling we as adults get when we find a scarf or cardigan in the back of our closet that we totally forgot about. It’s not new, but it’s something we love and are so excited to use again.


Open-Ended Play Never Ends

We love our kids, and we want them to grow into the best versions of themselves. Kids learn through play, and the best play is the kind that lets them explore who they are and who they want to be.


As a parent watching your kids grow, learn, and develop is an amazing experience that we get to be an integral part of. In case no one has told you today, you’re doing a great job!