If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook you would see on a lot of my posts I talk about open ended play. It is one of our most favourite forms of play based learning.
What is open ended play?
Open ended play is when you encourage children to play freely without any limits. There is no right or wrong way to play and children can make items be whatever they want them to be. The past few months I have been busy creating an open ended rich environment within our home. I started by donating 99% of our toys that made noises or had flashing lights. And bought in open ended items and made them readily available.
The benifets I have observerved from incorporating and encouraging open ended play in our home are:
- Imagination: Since giving Dot a more open ended rich environment I have noticed how much her imagination has expanded.For instance our washing basket to Dot is now any form of transport she wants it to be. Dot is forever hopping into it and telling she is flying a plane, driving a car, pulling into the train station.
- Symbolic play: has increased simple blocks have now become a large range of things from magical doors into other worlds to ponds for frogs to swim in.
- Self expression: Dot appears very relaxed and free when engaging in open ended play. Dot thrives on the ability to be able to think and do as she pleases. Dot is no longer concearned about wether she is doing an activity/game right or wrong just that she is having fun.
- Speech: Dot’s speech is dramatically developing. Dot is able to express what she is doing as well as ask questions to do with her activity which often includes me discussing new words with her.
- Creativity: is expanding as Dot’s confidence in her own artistic ability and is now trying to draw and create things that she imagines and sees.
- Social & Emotinal development: open ended play has definitely given Dot the opportunity to understand the world around her. As well as consequences for her actions. I often see Dot reenacting incidents that have happend in her day with her toys.
Our top 10 picks for open ended toys and why:
These are our favourite open ended toys that we own and have had the most success with. They are in no particular order…
- Grimms large wooden rainbow- This is one of our most favourite toys. I won’t lie it is a big investment they aren’t cheap however I personally believe they are worth their weight in gold. Daddy was a bit sceptical when I announced that this would be the gift we would be getting Miss Dot for her 2nd birthday. But the moment Dot saw it and took it apart and told us it was horses I knew I had made the right choice. It is now used for many things tunnels for cars, beds for people, houses for families and slides just to mention a few.