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Open ended toys are great for many reasons: most are simple, durable, and they can help your kid work on their creativity, imagination and problem solving skills. These toys help children explore, practice their visual discrimination skills and reinforce their fine motor and gross motor skills.
These toys are also great toys for kids because they grow with your child. In other words, your child can use most of them in different ways as they grow up. They are therefore an economical and ecological toy option.
Why open ended toys are the ultimate toys
1) They serve many developmental purposes
Research has found that encouraging kids to engage in constructive play has many benefits. Kids who frequently play with toys such as blocks and LEGO have better problem solving skills, better vocabulary, are more creative and are better able to notice fine details.
2) They are simple
The advantage of simple toys is that they drive kids to use their imagination. They spark creativity and can be used in many different ways.
3) They present endless possibilities
Having open ended toys is like having many toys at the same time. There are so many different structures that kids can come up with when left to their imagination.
4) They have a calming effect
By forcing kids to focus on something other than their big emotions, these toys can help calm angry or anxious kids. For instance, there is evidence that LEGO therapy can help kids with autism calm down and improve their social skills.
5) They last and last…
Quality toys grow with your child and have even been known to be passed down from generation to generation. These toys can be used differently when kids get older.
Tips to pick age-appropriate toys
Good toys range from simple letters and blocks that can be used by young kids to complex LEGO and other structures that require much focus and time. Choosing age-appropriate toys enables kids to gain the most benefits from them.
The best toys for babies (up to 12 months)
As soon as babies have learned to grasp, they can begin to hold toys such as blocks.
Tips for choosing toys for babies
- Safety is the most important priority for this age group, especially as it is at this age that kids put things in their mouths.
- Privilege large construction toys that can’t fit in their mouths.
- Privilege blocks made with soft materials.
- Remember that toddlers are more attracted to brightly coloured objects.
Suggestions for toddlers
Your baby will enjoy stacking these kapla planks and making all sorts of objects with them. These wooden planks are designed to attract and keep babies’ attention. From as early as three months, they will love imagining and creating objects with these beautiful planks.
These super soft beautiful blocks are designed to attract your baby’s attention. They are perfect for the development of creativity, visual perception skills, and they can also help your baby develop their fine motor skills. Your baby will love playing with their chewable blocks!
The best toys for children below age 2
Kids at this age engage in repetitive play and it is through this that they learn to master different activities.
Tips for choosing toys for kids under age 2
- Toys should also have round or flat edges to prevent cuts.
- Safety is still a priority so privilege large construction toys
- Young kids are more attracted to brightly coloured blocks.
- This age is an age of discovery so it’s important to include toys with different sizes, colours and textures.
Suggestions for kids under 2
If you’re looking for durable and beautiful blocks, look no further! These large building blocks made of durable, non-toxic and high quality materials are a great open ended toy that will help your child discover different shapes and colors as they create different objects.
If your baby has reached at least 18 months, they will love the Kinderfeets balance board which is a great toy for teaching them about balance, coordination and spatial awareness. They can also use this board as a bridge, a balance board, a fort, and so on.
The Lovevery Block set has got to be the most comprehensive block set you’ll ever find! It proposes 70 blocks and up to 18 different shades and colors that will help your child work on their fine motor skills, their visual discrimination skills and their creativity.
This block set proposes different shapes, threadable blocks, a shape sorter and so much more. Your child can build anything that they can imagine with these beautiful blocks. The set is designed to keep kids busy from 18 months to their fourth birthday!
The best toys for 3- to 5-year-olds
When young kids are presented with toys that they consider to be too complex, they are likely to quickly lose interest in them. Toys at this age should be neither too easy nor too complex.
Tips for choosing toys for 3- to 5-year-olds
- Between ages 3 and 5, kids start learning about things such as numbers, letters and colours. Using toys can be a fun way to help them learn about these things.
- Kids at this age are also able to build simple constructions and can greatly benefit from blocks and bricks.
- This age group has a lot of energy to burn so an open ended toy that can help them engage in active physical activity is a great option.
Suggestions for 3- to 5-year-olds
This climbing triangle is a great toy for strengthening your baby’s gross motor skills. They will be able to use it in different ways as they grow older: crawling under, sliding, balancing themselves, and so on.
Your child will love playing with this wooden puzzle made of 100% non-toxic natural wood. They will develop their creativity and their imagination as they learn to identify different colors and shapes.
Wooden rainbow stackers are popular toys which are commonly found in Montessori classrooms. They will allow your child to create anything that they can imagine, and they will be able to play with these stackers in countless different ways!
The Wooden Wobble Balance Board is a great open ended toy for developing children’s gross motor skills. It will allow them to work on their sense of balance and their posture, and your child can use it in whichever way they see fit – as a swing, a steppingstone, a tunnel, a goal post… the possibilities are endless.
Both you and your child will fall in love with Tegu Magnetic wooden blocks. These blocks propose nine unique shapes of traditional wooden blocks (with magnets carefully hidden inside) and magnetic wheels.
The best open ended toys for 5- to 8-year-olds
By the time they reach age 5, most children have developed some autonomy and are able to build more complicated structures.
Tips for choosing construction toys for 5- to 8-year-olds
- Choosing more complicated toys will help keep kids’ attention.
- Although kids should be able to come up with their own structures from their imagination, they will also appreciate models and templates that they can copy from.
Suggestions for 5- to 8-year-olds
Your child will love these wooden building blocks. They will be able to practice science and engineering concepts, reason, create, imagine and problem solve. There are no limits to what they can do with these blocks!
With these magnetic sticks, your child will be able to build all sorts of objects while also strengthening their spatial thinking and hand-eye coordination. This toy is perfect for sparking their creativity.
Classic building bricks are the ultimate open ended toy! This set proposes 1100 bricks in 17 popular colors and 147 mixed shapes. Your child will be able to build anything that they can imagine.
The best toys after age 8
Older kids benefit most from complex structures that require concentration, time and skill.
Suggestions for kids over 8
Your child can build up to 6 different contraptions with this KEVA playset. We love that the planks are compatible with Kapla planks so they can construct really expansive structures. This is a perfect open ended toy for older children.
Making the most out of your child’s toys
- Encourage kids to gain interest in construction toys by choosing toys featuring their favourite heroes or TV programmes.
- Privilege toys that can be transformed into many different objects.
- Participating in construction play with younger kids teaches them how to use open ended toys. Remember that kids learn by modelling others’ behaviour.
References and additional reading