What is an Open-Ended Toy? Engage Kids for Hours!
An open-ended toy unleashes a world of possibilities. Children gain boundless inspiration and creativity while nurturing their imagination and learning as they play.
We’ve been there: you wake up to wide-eyed kids brimming with energy. There’s barely a minute to get dressed, let alone engage your child’s active mind. Can that new movie or superhero toy keep your kids occupied for even half an hour? If only you had some time for laundry or catching up on to-dos.
Sure, they could play iPad games, but you don’t want to stifle your child’s imagination. Is there a way to engage your kids for hours while letting their creativity blossom?
You bet! Open-ended toys entertain and engage your children while fostering their creativity and development.
Here, we’ll share how to keep your children entertained for hours with open-ended play. Let’s dive in!
What is Open-Ended Play?
Open-ended play involves learning toys or activities without rules, instructions, or time limits. It’s a style of play that empowers kids to ignite their imagination, freeing it to explore, create, and learn without limits.
Children engage their senses with open-ended toys, meaning there aren't expectations for specific outcomes, making the journey stimulating for every child — whether your child is an engineer in the making or a natural-born artist!
For example, superhero toys have a hero and a villain. The characters are familiar to your child, making them enjoyable, but the game isn’t open-ended; the roles are set.
To truly unlock their imagination without limits — and gain a window of precious time for your to-do’s — open-ended toys will keep your kids busy for hours!
Open-Ended Toy Examples
Best part? There are exciting open-ended play ideas to choose from, each engaging your child in unique ways.
Plain Paper and Art Supplies
Coloring books are a fun way to engage your children, but they aren’t always open-ended because they have decided outcomes, images, and lines. What makes plain paper different?
The fact that children can draw anything they’d like with zero expectations — squiggles, mountains, stars, characters, the options are endless. Markers, paints, pens, and crayons all offer open-ended play, giving children the freedom to draw their hearts out!
Squaregles Magnetic Building Toys
What if your child had over 1,000 ways to play with one toy? Squaregles are magnetic building toys with 3D pop-out panels. Kids can build structures, connecting each piece magnetically or with clips. Some of the pop-out panels are paperboard, a blank canvas for kids to draw fun designs! Each set includes Oggs, clever characters offering kids exciting adventures.
Kids can create stories, structures, art, and develop problem-solving skills while immersed in a creative flow. There’s no right or wrong answer for how to use these exciting educational magnetic toys. What makes them educational? Squaregles are STEAM accredited, meaning our toys are certified science, technology, engineering, arts, and math toys, engaging all play styles!
The best part? Squaregles’ magnetic building toys are designed to interact seamlessly with other toys — the possibilities for open-ended play are endless.
So, are open-ended toys better than other toys? There is space for both types of toys in your home. But here’s why we love open-ended play!
Why is Open-Ended Play Good for Children?
Critical thinking is vital to development. Michigan State University Extension Educator Carrie Shrier describes how open-ended toys let kids make their own choices about play. This improves their developing social and cognitive skills, among other benefits.
Open-Ended Toy Benefits
Allow more time for play
Encourage critical thinking
Improve cognitive and social skills
Develop problem-solving skills
Next, we’ll share some open-ended play ideas to keep kids busy while you’re busy!
How to Encourage Play with Open-Ended Toys
Your kids will naturally discover many ways to expand their play with open-ended toys. But if you notice your child needs a gentle nudge to get started, here are some ideas.
Give them Hours to Play
You’re always on the go. We sometimes expect that from our kids, too, packing homework, play dates, and extracurricular activities into their day. Kids need time to embrace their creativity, so free up larger blocks of time for them to engage with open-ended toys.
If you only allow a few minutes before school, they won’t experience the full benefits of open-ended toys. Afternoons are a great chunk of time for open-ended play!
Create an Inspiring Play Space
How does your child’s play area look? Is it crowded with so many toys that it’s hard to pick which ones to use? Encourage your child to clean up their space and give them a helping hand if necessary.
Then, place open-ended toys in their space — that toy might be the next plot in their Squaregles story! If they need a starting point, you can show them how to use these toys and then slip away and let their creativity run wild!
Minimize Sensory Overload
We've all heard those dreaded words: "Mom/Dad I'm bored..." We know how frustrating it is to hear that, especially after all the activities and toys at their fingertips. But kids crave constant stimulation. After all, they’ve got curious minds and energy to burn!
If only we had a fraction of it for ourselves, right?
Well, instead of stimulating them with screen time, let them sit with their boredom and find a solution. Chances are, they’ll discover entertainment fast! Also, encourage them with open-ended questions, like “What happened in the Ogg story from yesterday?”
Embrace Open-Ended Play with Squaregles!
Open-ended toys create an inspiring space for children to play without limits. As busy parents, we need precious time to tackle our daily tasks or indulge in a few moments for ourselves. You may even get to drink your coffee while it’s still hot!
Ready to unlock endless possibilities for your kids?
Immerse them into a world of imagination and open-ended play with Squaregles magnetic build-and-play toys!