What Makes A Toy Open Ended?
Open ended play is a type of play that has no road map. Children direct their play in an infinite number of ways. It can morph and change from day to day or from minute to minute. With the same toy, friend, or cardboard box, kiddos can fly to the moon in one moment and arrest a pirate on the open seas in the next.
We talk about open ended play in terms of toys a lot. Here’s why:
While kiddos do not need toys to make open ended play possible, open ended toys inspire children to create adventurous play stories. On the other hand, one-and-done toys outright “tell” children how to play. The toy directs how the play starts and finishes; there are limited and prescribed ways to play with them and then play is over.
What's so special about Open Ended Toys?
We love it and here is why:
1. We love Open Ended Toys because they're good for little brains. They inspire the play that requires creativity, emotional intelligence, problem solving… all of the most difficult types of thinking to teach. It is the type of human thinking that computers cannot reproduce (otherwise known as 21st century skills).
2. We love it because children can play together. The rules of the game are all self-made. kiddos can involve others in their playtime (though they may need some coaching through difficult skills like sharing)
3. It’s easier for us, grown-ups. With open ended toys, we can put out fewer types of toys at one time! They invent and reinvent with the same toys. We just let them work!
4. They make playtime last longer. Because open ended toys do not have a predetermined ‘end’ point, the play can go on and on. Once they get a new idea and watch them run with it!
Great! So, These Toys Will Teach My Kiddo To Play Independently, Right?
Well, not exactly. I feel like it is important to mention that playing creatively is a skill. Playing independently is a skill. Both must be taught and practiced.
So, get down on the floor and show your kiddos how to create an awesome play story with toys! Include them in your play. Do this over and over until they start to direct the play themselves. Then, you can slowly start to remove yourself... when you want to!
Open Ended Toys Vs. One and Done Toys.
Examples for you:
Open Ended Toys
Wooden blocks can be a city, a set of roads, or a bed for a baby doll. The possibilities are endless.
Animal figures can be part of a zoo, guests at a dinner party, or mayors of a city.
One and Done Toys
A sing along toy that plays songs when you push a button. This might be entertaining for a while, but the novelty wears off and then there are not a lot of creative uses for such a toy. The purpose of this toy can also be substituted for a free membership to Spotify.
Do keep in mind that just because it has batteries does not mean it is one and done toy and just because it doesn’t does not mean it is open ended. It all has to do with the potential for creative play.
PS. There is value in closed ended toys. Puzzles, games, and stackers will not last forever, but build important skills!
Happy Play Time
PS. Do you have questions? Let's Chat. Follow us on IG @grohplayrooms or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Comment below with your kiddo’s favorite toy!