Our Top 5 Open Ended Toys

If you’ve been one of the many wondering what our most used and loved resources are in our home then keep reading! These items are so loved in our home that they rarely ever leave a toy rotation.

Before we get into it let’s quickly talk about what makes a toy open ended. Open ended play is play that has no set of fixed way that a toy should be used. There is no set outcome and no 'right' or 'wrong' way for the toy to be used. Many children could be given the exact same toy and they would likely all find a different way to use it due to their age, abilities and interests.

The beauty of this means that these toys can be used by babies, toddlers, school age children and even beyond as parents!

You can read another one of my blogs, 'Engaging in open ended play' here.

My favourite things about open ended toys is that they encourage children to be creative, leave plenty of room for their imagination, they grow with your children and that there is no need to keep buying more as they can just be used in different ways!


Magnetic Tiles

Over the years we have collected hundreds of Connetix Tiles. I found that since both the kids started creating with them that we really needed more and I wasn’t afraid to add them to our collection given that they get played with daily!

They have been used in our house for well over 2.5 years and have grown with my children since they were 13 months old and 2 years old. They started by stacking them on top of each other, flat on the ground, building simple towers and houses. 

As they grew older (now 3 & 4 years) they create towns including familiar places that they have been; grandma’s house, cafe, shopping centre, car park, park, zoo - you name it they have probably made it!

There are so many ways magnetic tiles can be used for other learning through play such as colour matching and understanding 2D and 3D shapes.

 

Playsilks

Playsilks have been another staple in our house that we have enjoyed since my eldest was a baby! I started with some cheap scarves from the op shop and was surprised with how much love they received and upgraded to the Sarah’s Silks and have never regretted it.

They are used most days for dancing, wrapping dolls, posting and pulling, creating land and water in small world play and even as a doll carrier.

You can read a whole blog about ‘How to play with Sarah’s Silks’ here.

Mother and daughter playing with Sarah's Silks on balance board.  

 

Loose Parts

Our first bought loose parts that were not recycled or found in nature was the Grapat Carla set paired with the mates. These beautiful Nins, rings, coins and cups have been well loved every day since and have really grown with my children. We have owned them since my eldest was 18 months old and they don’t often leave our rotation but we do change up how they are displayed on our shelf.

We have a few trays of loose parts that don’t leave our playroom because my children use them every single day for things such as sorting, counting, stacking, pretend play, pattern making and so much more!

I won’t keep going as there is a whole blog all about ‘How to play with loose parts’ that you can read here.

Kapla and Grapat Loose Parts

Wooden loose part play with Grapat toys.

Peg People & Animal Figurines

Peg people are another must have item. These are special as unlike a regular doll/figurine their faces show no emotion, gender or role. My children are often incorporating them into small world play and with them they can assign them to be whatever they please, a shop assistant, mother, child, friend. It’s great not having to have a specific person for each role. There are many kinds but my favourites would be the regular Nins, Baby Nins, Baby Sticks, Palos and the Together set has a great mix of sizes, shapes and colours.

 Connetix Tiles with Grapat Nins

Animal figurines are another item that are often incorporated into their play as they reenact visiting a farm, watching whales at the sea and making all the different noises of animals at the zoo. We have a selection of Ostheimer animals that they use in their regular play but our CollectA tube animals are used in messy play. They are very realistic and as they are plastic they are easily cleaned! (Pictured below the Wild Animal CollectA Tube and Grimm's Small Counting Blocks)

Little girl playing with wooden blocks making a zoo with animal figurines.

Building Blocks

Having a good quality set of blocks is a must have for children! With blocks they can use their imagination to create whatever they desire. With they children can build, design, experiment, problem solve and create!

We personally have a few different kids of blocks, two of our favourites are the Grimm’s Large Stepped Pyramid and Large Counting Blocks which are both beautiful but very hard to get in Australia at the moment due to popular demand.

In this set there is a great variety of colours, shapes and sizes of blocks. They enjoy using them to create towers, houses and fences for their animals as well as general free play. If you are interested in this style of blocks you can check out this set by Rata and Roo which is a beautiful set in a similar style and beautiful quality but made in Australia. (Pictured below is the Grimm's Large Counting Blocks and Semi-Circles)

Young girl building a large block tower with quality wooden block tower.

We stock a large variety of block sets which you can view here.

The second is the Bauspiel Lucite Cubes these are also a well-loved resource for stacking in the sunshine and they also love using them as 'jelly' in their pretend shop! In this set there is a hundred blocks coloured in ten colours which is great for counting, sorting and pattern making too!

Colourful Bauspiel lucite cube play.
Bauspiel Lucite Cubes in shop

The third is the Kapla. These simple wooden planks are often used in loose parts play in our home. My children love laying them down to create shapes and roads and they also enjoy stacking tall towers with them.

Kapla in play

 

I hope this blog has helped you to select your first open ended toys or to help as to what to add next to your collection. 

If you’d still like to keep reading about all things play and how to use open ended toys have a browse of my other blogs here.


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