If you are looking for open-ended play gift ideas, here are ten that are sure to make children of any age happy. Open-ended play gifts will be received with joy by any child with a strong imagination.
As a child myself I had so many toys that never got played with, ended up in the trash can after a few days, and were missing essential parts that were buried at the bottom of a big toy chest. This is a story that many children of the 1980s and 1990s can identify with. Our parents showered us with toys that brought us joy, temporarily. Then, we were onto the next flashy thing.
I don’t want to come off as soiled or unappreciative, but that is not the way I wanted to raise my children.
Though I lacked proper terminology at the time, I pictured a home with beautiful toys that were long-lasting, sustainable, and multi-purpose. I wanted my children to be creative and imaginative, and I knew that would start with the toys they played with.
Sharing Open Ended Play Ideas With Family
Although I had a clear picture of what types of toys I wanted to have in my home, my family and friends had different plans. It was immensely difficult to talk with loved ones about this topic. Not only did I not have the terminology to pass on to them, the whole concept of “less is more” when it came to gift-giving was new. Knowing that they simply wanted to bring joy to my children, made it that much harder to have to say, “No thank you”.
At first, around holidays, I asked family and friends if I could provide a list of toys that my children would like or enjoy. Initially, it felt weird or presumptuous. However, it soon became standardized and expected. This way, the gift giver felt that they were giving something my children and I would enjoy. Now, our expectations around gifts have become second nature to our family and friends.
After years of buying toys, my family gets to experience the joy of seeing my children use, reuse, and reuse again.
Now that I have much more knowledge I know that phrase I was always looking for to describe my toy philosophy was, “open-ended play toys”. Open-ended toys provide opportunities for creativity, critical thinking, and the development of motor skills, and promote a mentality of appreciation.
Over the years we have had the privilege of owning a wide variety of open-ended play toys. Now, I want to share my top ten list with you!
1) Play silks
Made from 100% silk, and dyed in various colors; we use these play silks for dress-up, small-world play, forts, and even blankets.
Tegu offers a variety of block packages ranging in price from $20-100. Tegu blocks are made from wood-encased magnets We particularly like the magnetic wheels that are used to make racecars!
3) Sensory sand
There is something about the qualities of sensory sand that make it irresistible. Use it with “loose parts tools”, with kitchen utensils, or to build scenes for a small-world play. Edible sensory “sand” can also be made at home with simple ingredients.
5) Fort pieces
Most children love to play inside a tent or a fort. I like these fort pieces because they can be connected in various ways to fit the desired shape, break down, and store easily. My children love to play inside the fort, eat inside the fort, and sometimes even sleep inside the fort!
Tool sets such as these are essential to our open-ended play at home. They can be filled with sand, rice, barley, flax, sensory sand, and even mandala pieces. Materials care scooped, poured, “baked”, “ate”, and shared.
Grimm’s makes some of the highest-quality wooden toys in the world. They are dedicated to creating one-of-a-kind, sustainable, beautiful toys that are heirloom quality. These things give Grimm’s items a larger price tag than items you may find elsewhere; however, they are certainly worth the expense. The Grimm’s rainbow, in particular, is the piece that gets used the most at my house. (E-catalog)
We won one of these boxes from a local library a few years back and I have purchased a few others since! Children will enjoy the assortment of loose parts and craft items to create new “inventions” and art.
“The possible combinations of the individual articles are limitless and open up a broad field of infinite playing possibilities” – Grimm’s Design