5 Best Open-Ended Play Ideas to Keep Kids Busy & Entertained at Home
Between piling dishes, mealtime, and work, we often wonder: "How do I keep my child entertained at home?" As parents, we know how frustrating it is to buy expensive games or toys only to have kids tire of them quickly. How can we inspire their imaginations and keep kids engaged for hours? There are many fantastic open-ended play ideas that inspire endless creativity and learning opportunities — and give us parents a much-needed break.
The ultimate goal: More time for you and more playtime for your kids. Win-Win!
What is Open-Ended Play?
Open-ended play fosters unlimited creativity, exploration, logic, communication, learning, and more. The best open-ended play ideas and activities engage kids to explore and build confidence, independence, and problem-solving skills. Researchers note a direct link between childhood playtime and greater competence and capability in adulthood.
The beauty of open-ended toys and games is that they aren't a one-and-done activity. With open-ended toys, there's no defined "end" to the toy or game, so they engage children with endless creativity. Kids focus on the process rather than the product.
One of the greatest benefits of open-ended play? It keeps kids busy for hours! Meanwhile, you can catch up on tasks — or sneak away to squeeze in an episode of that show everyone’s talking about!
Next, we'll share some exciting open-ended activities examples.
5 Open-Ended Play Ideas & Activities
There are plenty of options when it comes to engaging open-ended toys and interactive activities! But which ones are right for your kids? We've rounded up our favorite open-ended play ideas. Each of these five activities are creative ways to keep kids busy — and give you the breather you need.
1. Capture their attention with art
Arts and crafts are a classic open-ended play idea that provides experiential learning.
With unlimited rules and possibilities, kids explore their creativity through expressive mediums like painting, sculpting with clay, coloring, or sketching.
Open-ended play is rooted in creativity and imagination. With arts and crafts, kids enjoy a fun activity that encourages them to express themselves. Creating art fosters problem-solving skills, cognitive development, and instills a sense of confidence when they finish their masterpiece.
A quick solution for how to keep kids entertained for hours is to equip them with arts and crafts activities. For example, Squaregles paperboard panels are the perfect medium for your growing artists! Kids can have fun creating art with crayons, markers, or colored pencils.
Another tip: Have them create with washable paint to avoid any stains from spills.
2. Take playtime outside
Ever wonder how to keep your kids busy at home without overloading them on technology? Yup, us too.
In our fast-paced digital world, kids have access to more screen time than ever before. As busy parents, most of us are guilty (no judgment) of allowing them to indulge in extra screen-time as we squeeze in our to-dos. Some studies suggest that too much screen time may negatively impact their cognitive development.
What can you do? Nature is full of possibilities for new and exciting open-ended play ideas!
Encourage open-ended play by going outside together. If you're busy, task them with a mission. Send them out to the backyard on a scavenger hunt for specific items: a yellow leaf, a big twig, a uniquely shaped rock, a caterpillar.
Their curious minds will love the challenge!
3. Engage them with educational magnetic toys.
Magnetic-building toys provide limitless play possibilities and learning experiences for all types of play. They are the quintessential STEAM toy for kids, incorporating science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics into their playtime.
For example, with Squaregles magnetic building toys, kids can create entire worlds and immerse Oggs characters into exciting adventures! They can draw on the paperboard panels, create iteration after iteration with 3D pop-out panels, bring in their favorite toys, and play for hours.
These must-have open-ended toys help kids understand concepts they'll implement later in life — such as exploration, divergent thinking, and conscious problem-solving.
The options are endless! Kids can find new ways to play every day, learning vital skills along the way.
4. Encourage them to dress up and perform
Dress-up is one of the best open-ended play ideas for kids. Storytelling encourages creativity and self-expression. It also presents stimulating tasks like creating a narrative, picking costumes, and performing. Ask the kids to put on a show or performance. They'll build confidence and strengthen their communication skills.
Let your Shakespeare go wild as you cook dinner or tackle an important task. When they're ready to perform, kick back and enjoy the show!
5.Have them build a fort
Like many of our open-ended play ideas, building a fort is a fun way to keep kids engaged while learning the fundamentals of building. Challenge kids to build a fort made of only household items. Not only does this foster creativity and teamwork, but it further helps to develop their STEAM skills.
This open-ended play idea pushes kids to design a structure and build it from scratch with unique, unconventional materials. Building helps develop their critical thinking abilities. Better yet, it's an activity that they can immerse themselves in for hours — afternoon siesta, anyone?
Ready to Keep Your Kids Busy & Engaged for Hours?
It's no secret that kids learn most through play. That's why it's critical to incorporate open-ended play ideas that encourage them to think outside the box. With no end to most open-ended learning activities, kids can explore new methods of play to keep them engaged and entertained.
These fun activities will strengthen their cognitive abilities while giving us parents the downtime we need to recharge.
Introduce these open-ended play ideas to your kids, and you'll be the master of how to keep your kids busy at home — they'll be playing for hours! And you'll get to put the laundry away before it piles into the dirty basket again. Or better yet, why not squeeze in that long bath you've been craving?
Ready to see how much you-time open-ended play can unlock? Get started with Squaregles magnetic build-and-play toys today!