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Open-Ended Toys for Preschoolers

Inside: What are open-ended toys, what are the benefits of open-ended toys and a list of open-ended toys for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

Open-ended toys provoke creativity, imagination and endless hours of play!

That’s why today, I am going to share with you a list of some of the best open-ended toys for toddlers and preschoolers, and in reality, children of all ages!

Enjoy!

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Open-ended toys for preschoolers

What are open-ended toys?

Susie, from Busy Toddler categorizes toys into two categories: “open and done toys,” and “open-ended toys”.

Susie states:

“Toys that talk to kids, ask questions, sing songs, light up: those are “One and Done Toys”. Those toys don’t teach, they don’t inspire, they don’t grow with our children. 

Susie recommends filling our home with open-ended toys that encourage independent, free play. 

Our story with open-ended toys

Last September, when Lennox started attending his play-based preschool, we met his teacher Mrs. Jo and her amazing philosophies about early childhood education.

One of the philosophies she implements is the theory of loose parts. In sum, loose parts consist of random elements in a child’s environment that provoke open-ended, independent play. Loose parts could range anywhere from rocks to scarves, to buttons.

What I love most about loose parts, besides infinite play possibilities, is that it promotes social-economic behavior and inclusiveness among children. “Loose parts encourage communication, collaboration, negotiation, risk-taking and conflict resolution.” (Daly and Beloglowsky) 

These social-economic behaviors encouraged by loose parts transcend cultures and language barriers because they are items found everywhere, and they do not hold economic value.

The Best Open-Ended Toys for Bilingual Toddlers and Preschoolers #toddlergiftguide #preschoolgiftguide #openendedtoys #thebesttoddlertoys #thebestpreschoolertoys #educationaltoddlertoys #educationalpreschooltoys #montessoritoys #loospartsplay #playbasededucation #bilingualkids #toysforbilingualkids

This facet is essential in our bilingual household.

We raise Lennox in Spanish at home, using the MLAH approach, and I was nervous about how he would be able to communicate in school. However, seeing him interact with other kids in his class in a nonverbal way over loose parts is extremely fascinating.

We started implementing loose parts in our home in the fall, but first, we detoxed our home of open and done toys.

Letting go of one-and-done toys does not mean that we threw away all of our toys.

We donated some. Then, we sorted the rest and added many open-ended toys to our collection.

Today, Lennox plays harmoniously (most of the time) with his open ended-toys and loose parts.

Implementing loose parts play and adding open-ended toys has changed the way Lennox plays. He plays for hours at a time, and he even looks forwards to his nap time to have the ability to be creative and imaginative all by himself. 

In addition, I find myself purchasing fewer toys and saving a lot more money!

 It also causes us to get out in nature more, in an attempt to find ways to use our loose parts and open-ended toys!

Below are some of my most recommended open-ended toys for preschoolers!

Open-Ended Building Toys

In her article 10 Things Children Learn from Block Play, Derry Koralek emphazises the importance of block play in early childhood question. She explains how block play fosters:

  • Problem solving

  • Imagination

  • Self-expression

  • Mathematics

  • Continuity and permanence

  • Creativity

  • science

  • self-esteem

  • social and emotional growth

  • Development

One line of Koralek’s article that stood out to me as a bilingual parent, is a quote from Karen Nemeth that says “blocks offer many ways for young dual language learners to explore, express, and demonstrate what they are learning across languages” #bilingualparenting #bilingualtoys #bilingualkids #bilingualbeginnings

One line of Koralek’s article that stood out to me as a bilingual parent, is a quote from Karen Nemeth that says “blocks offer many ways for young dual language learners to explore, express, and demonstrate what they are learning across languages”

Below are some of our favorite household blocks and building toys. Lennox especially enjoys the Magnatiles and can play with them for hours end.

Below are a list of recommended open-ended building toys:


Art & Musical Open-Ended Toys

Art and musical toys are great fo early childhood education. Keymonne Hall lists the following benefits of the arts in ECE:

  • Develops motor skills

  • Accelerates brain development

  • Reduces stress

  • Builds self-esteem

  • Aids concept understanding

Below are some of our favorite household art and musical toys.

Open- Ended Animals & Figurines

Animal toys and figurines are great open-ended toys that children see in all aspects of daily life and they can manipulate them to their will. Maybe your toddler will sort them into categories, or colors. Maybe he will line them up according to size. Or, maybe your child will pretend play with them.

Regardless, through play and exploration, your child is learning so much. This goes for some of the other toy categories listed below.

Check out how we use animal figurines in the beach sensory bin!


Open-Ended Floor Puzzles

Puzzles are great for educational play. Some of the benefits of puzzle play are advanced cognitive skills, problem solving, fine-motor development, hand-eye coordination, social skills, and builds self-esteem.

Here is a list of great floor puzzles for preschoolers:


 

Open-Ended Transportation Toys

Transportation toys, similar to animal toys and figurines are seen so much in daily life that your child will really enjoy playing with them.

Join them with some of the earthly elements listed below and your child will be in play-heaven!

Related: 13 Tips to Prepare your Toddler for Their First Year of Preschool

Earthly Elements & Outdoor Toys

Earthly elements are not only sensory, but they also are sensory and promote fine-motor skills.

Add some toys, or even better, loose parts, and watch your preschooler go at it!

  • This kids in Lennox’s preschool go CRAZY over this Jurassic Sand. It can be used indoors and outdoors! You can add it to a sandbox or even put it in a water table for some standing fun! Don’t forget the sand equipment!
  • Kinetic sand is great way to bring outdoor elements indoors. It is sensory and will entertain your toddler for hours! 
  • Playdoh is another way to have some creative fun! Add in some playdoh tools and your child will be in sensory and fine-motor heaven! Maybe they will make a pizza, or a snake! Who knows?

Fine Motor Open-Ended Toys

Below is a list of open-ended toys that are great for fine-motor skills such as grasping and eye-hand coordination. 

  • These lacing beads are great for hand-eye coordination and grasping. You could also use them to sort and learn the colors. Your child can also get creative with them in their own way!
  • See what your child will build with this fun wooden tool workbench.
  • I don’t know about you. but my son has a fascination with anything with a clip or clasp. This wooden clip set would entertain him for hours!

Gross Motor Open-Ended Toys

Gross motor toys work the big muscles such as the legs and arms. Having a few gross motor toys will encourage physical activity and if you find the right toys, can provoke open-ended play all day!

Lennox loves his Micro Kickboard Scooter. He used to ride it all over the neighborhood looking for gas stations to “fill up the gas.”

Below are some more gross motor open-ended toys!

The Best Open-Ended Toys for Bilingual Toddlers and Preschoolers

Household open-ended toys

This last section if for open-ended toys that are great for house play.

Thank you so much for reading. I hope your child enjosy some of these open-ended toys! Let me know your favorites, or if something is missing in the comments below!!!

 

 

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