One of the best parts of being a parent is watching our kids use their imagination and play. It can take us back to our own childhoods of playing tigers in the backyard or school in the basement. While technology has totally changed the game (pun intended), open-ended play is still the most important thing your children can do to learn and develop the skills they’ll need later in life.
Open-ended play prioritizes fun and creativity and takes away the “need” for things to look or be a certain way. The ball becomes a magical orb that tells the future, instead of something to kick across the yard. The cushions become stones to get away from the hot lava and the blocks are used to create a magnificent castle. It’s when the teddy bear is transformed into a best friend, or a blanket becomes a cape.
So what constitutes something as an open-ended toy? It’s something that can be used in multiple ways. If all the toy does is light up and make a sound, that is a closed toy and only has one use. But when a child builds a pulley system and then chooses what item they’ll be lifting, it becomes an open-ended toy full of possibilities. The first-round of play might be lifting soft cotton balls from one cup to another. A few days later they’ll want to see if it can move a marker, and hey, what if the markers were actually sticks at a campsite? (that is how a child’s brain works! Isn’t it wonderful??)
One of our projects this month, The Flashlight Constellations, has been a huge hit! Not only is it fun actually making the flashlight and choosing the constellations, but kids can then run off into their own space adventure, discovering new constellations along the way. When an arts-and-crafts project can turn into an open-ended toy the possibilities are endless.
So while we believe in the magic of creating projects, we also believe in creating projects that can be played with time and time again, in new and creative ways. Check out our Project Shop for dozens of opportunities for open-ended play.