Finding and sourcing toys for BabyDonkie means I have seen a lot of toys come and go. As a Mum of 4 kids, I also know what they play with for hours on end and what gets left to sit around and collect dust...which is why I am a huge advocate for open-ended toys.
Open-ended toys encourage creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking and inspire a child's imagination. An open-ended toy means there is no set way or right way to play with it. In doing so, it allows the possibilities of play to only be limited by the child's imagination.
I thought I would share with you my top 10 open-ended toys of all time.
You cannot go past this iconic toy when discussing open-ended play. Lego is always played with by my children and I still have some Lego from when I was a child that they play with! Lego allows for hours of creative play especially when you ditch the instruction manuals and just allow a child to build whatever is in their mind, bridges, cars, castles and houses.
I first saw magnetic tiles on a trip to the USA in 2014 and I bought a whole box of Magformers home to Australia as I loved them so much! Magnetic tiles are super fun to play with and are great for fine motor skill development and creative play.
At BabyDonkie we now stock Connetix Magnetic tiles which are designed in Australia. They have become one of our best selling toys and you can see why! They are awesome for open-ended play and can be used with other toys like Grapat, Wobbel, Way to Play road track and more!
We are also now stocking Learn & Grow Toys which have an incredible magnetic marble run, it is seriously out of this world fun.
Another classic open-ended toy, we love the Grapat range at BabyDonkie for their gorgeous colours and the perfect size for little hands.
Peg dolls can be used in doll houses, with loose parts play, and are great when combined with rainbow stackers.
Rainbow stackers have in recent years, become a cult classic as a result of the growing popularity of the Grimms Rainbow stacker and open-ended play.
We have just recently added Ocamora, a stunning Spanish wooden toy brand who handcraft rainbow stackers in an array of colours!
They use wood from sustainably managed forests, eco-friendly paints and natural vegetable oils. They are 100% free from nasty chemicals which makes them safe for little ones to play with. You won't find any instructions included and this is because these blocks are designed for free, imaginative play.
Train sets are a classic open-ended toy that can create hours of endless play possibilities.
Our wooden train set has been used by all four children and is constantly being updated with cars, fairies, wooden tunnels and whatever they choose to play with on any given day.
A relatively new toy but not a new concept, the Way to PlayRoad track adds another layer of open-ended play and allows the child's imagination to flourish. They can build cities, villages, farms and so much more with the combination of these toys.
I love that the flexible, rubber track can be used at home, in the bath, at the beach, in the forest or garden. It is easily washable and comes up looking new each time.
Who doesn't love to pretend play in the kitchen?
My kids are always mixing up new recipes in their wooden home corner at home. And I love a good homemade pretend play coffee and cake when I am at home with the kids on a weekend.
These wooden boards are an ingenious creative play toy that we adore in our house! With a number of different brands available, they are great for gross motor skills allowing the child to balance on the board, slide on it, rock it, push it, sit on it and you can even do kids yoga on them!
Originally developed for use in Waldorf (Steiner) early childhood classrooms. It was created to help children develop a sense of balance, stimulate their vestibular system, and gain a deeper awareness of their body and body parts.
They are also brilliant for creative play and can be used in combination with peg dolls, train tracks, way to play road track, rainbow stackers and loose parts play.
Dolls Houses are a classic open-ended toy and these days there are so many different types to choose from with the large very traditional ones still hugely popular to newer ones on the market that cater for smaller play spaces and houses.
They come now in the shapes of apples, pears and my personal favourite in the store, the Holdie House by Olli Ella. It is easily transportable and is not gender-specific, allowing it to be used by all siblings. It can be turned into a fire station, police station, fairy house, or garage.
Loose Parts play is at the heart of open-ended toys. The theory of Loose Parts Play was introduced by architect Simon Nicholson in 1972. He reasoned that an environment that allowed a child to explore, create, discover and manipulate helped a child's creativity, problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The more materials and variables that can be moved, changed, carried, redesigned, pulled apart, manipulated in a play space, the more creativity and invention.
Loose Parts can be natural or man-made. You can go outside and find pine cones, shells, sticks, leaves and pebbles and use these for loose parts play.
At BabyDonkie, I adore Grapat's loose part toys as they have been inspired by nature and encourage and invite a child to use their creative imagination to play.
I hope you have enjoyed my round of the top ten must-have open-ended toys, what do your kids like to play with on a daily basis? Leave a comment in the space below.
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