Through observing our children play, we realized that simple, open-ended toys are often the ones that are being played repeatedly, and provide maximum stimulation to their imagination.
Open-ended toys do not play by themselves. In other words, they do not make any sound or light up when a button is pressed. They are passive objects that encourage free play and offer endless play possibilities. There is no right or wrong way of playing and the child is often able to explore and play with little instruction or guidance from any adult. This allows child-led and imaginative play which helps to retain curiosity, encourage children to be eager learners and develop them into innovative problem solvers.
Through open-ended, child-led play, our children learn to preserve, and control their attention and emotions. When playing with peers, our children also develop social skills and social interaction through discussions and negotiations on the playing possibilities.
Open-ended toys are also not age specific. It allows open-ended play that evolves over time as the child grows and learns. The child may even re-invent the way to play with more creative and complex ideas. Very often, young babies and even adults enjoy playing with the same open-ended toy due to the nature of endless play possibilities. It could be a teething toy to a young baby, a stacking toy to a toddler or a building toy to an older child.
So, remember the more ways the toy can be played, the more learning opportunities it can offer.
“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.” – Carl Jung