We want to be transparent: Think Differently About Kids may earn a commission when you purchase through our links.
Are you looking for a way to keep your kid entertained without having to resort to screen time? Well, look no further! Open ended toys are the perfect way to keep your child occupied and learning at the same time. What are open ended toys, you ask? Simply put, these are toys that have no specific set use or goal. They can be used in any number of ways and can be adapted to any child’s interests and abilities.
Why should you choose open ended toys for kids? Here are just a few reasons:
- Open ended toys help children learn problem solving skills.
- They promote creativity and imagination.
- They help develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
The best open ended toys for kids are often considered wooden toys over plastic toys but really the main idea behind the term open ended toys is that they allow your child to use their imagination and creativity.
The reason why a lot of times people say wooden toys are preferred is because they have less distractions. Some plastic toys come with flashing lights, printed images, or loud sounds. Also, wooden toys are usually more durable and sturdy as well as sometimes easier on the eyes for parents.
In the baby/toddler years, having a number of open ended toys that can be used for different purposes will help your baby to become more creative as they discover the potential of each toy. The only rule is that there are no rules with these open ended toys as kids can take any object or toy and play different scenarios out with them. Let kids play how they want to play.
Because of the fact that these toys are open ended, parents can also create different activities with them like color matching or sensory bins. They come in handy for all sorts of things and can be used for a long time depending on the child’s interests.
Now, let’s get to our favorite open ended toys for your kids.
Building blocks are great for open ended play. We especially love these wooden blocks without any added color. This gives endless opportunities for your child to explore the different shapes.
Your kids can be playing with these open ended toys for hours and every time can create new things with them.
It comes with a box where all the pieces fit together in it. It can be a fun challenge as well for your kids to put the blocks pack in there and make it fit.
Colorful Geometry Wooden Blocks
If you like some color, we recommend these blocks with different colors and shapes. It’s not only great for educational purposed but can be used to stack and build unique structures.
Kids love the colors and can use it to create flat patterns on a table or on the floor as well.
This open ended toy set comes with 7 peg dolls in different colors as well as matching cups. They’re great to use for color matching activities but your kids can use them for so many things. In a doll house, place them on building blocks, and so much more!
Since they don’t have faces, only differentiate each other in the colors, they can be anything and anyone your child wants them to be. There is no limit to your child’s imagination.
These 12 plastic safari animals are a favorite among kids. They’re pretty realistic looking. Kids can learn their names and there are many different ways to play.
The animal figurines are also great for bath time or car ride entertainment. You could also use them for sensory bins or other activities.
If you prefer wooden animals, this set of 9 forest animals is a great option. This is a stacking set but can be used for much more.
Compared to the plastic more realistic animal figurines, these wooden ones have the benefit of not only being used to encourage imaginative play but also for exploring things like logical thinking and gravity.
Play silks are a great open ended toy. Use it as a scarf, a cape or just to swing it around. But they can also be used to create backdrops or grounds for different situations, for example if they want to create a zoo with building blocks and animals – use the green as grass and the orange or yellow as sand.
These colorful juggling scarfs are perfect for sensory play, juggling and also for creating scenes with your little one similar to the play silks mentioned before.
They can be put into a tissue box if your kids likes to pull and tear paper tissues out. They can be tied to sticks, clothes, … So many options for you and your kid to explore the scarfs.
This 100 piece set of PicassoTiles are amazing open ended toys for creative play and unique creations. The magnetic tiles have a strong hold so that structures won’t easily fall apart.
The colors and geometric shapes are great for your kids to learn, play, and use their imagination. There are no limits as to what they can build.
Toy cars can be used to play by themselves, drive through a maze or on a play mat. It’s a favorite among so many kids of all ages. Your kids might even want to take their favorite car with them on walks, to the store, etc.
This set has nice, realistic looking details and has many different kinds of cars.
In case you’re looking for a wooden toy car set, we love this one by Melissa & Doug. They are beautiful and colorful. You’ll be sure to have years of fun playing with them! They make great stocking stuffers or small gifts, too!
Yes, LEGO is also an open ended toy! Sure, many LEGO sets have a goal in mind as to what it should look like, but you can get this set with a lot of different blocks. It gives a lot of room to build whatever they want. It’s great for a beginner set and can be an addition or the start for a collection if your child loves it. LEGO can be gender neutral but if you’re looking for lego sets for girls we made a specific post about it.
For the most imaginative play we recommend a dollhouse that has very little decorations on the walls. A plain wooden dollhouse like this one can be furnished by your child as they see fit. It can be rearranged any way.
With other dollhouses it can be made clear with ‘wallpaper’ or other things where the bathroom, bedroom, etc. are expected to go.
This dollhouse has the walls decorated but still gives options for your child to make the house theirs. It is very spacious and can fit dolls like Barbies. The elevator between two floors is really a fun addition to this house.
If your child like to change rooms and layouts, try having all the furniture and dolls in trays or baskets next to the dollhouse before playing. This gives your child a plain canvas to create what they want to create.
Kinetic sand is amazing for sensory bins but also to play like building castles or play construction site with this set. It is great that it comes in a box to use which can make it easier to store and keep tidy. Be ready for lots of fun and open ended play.
Your child has the opportunity to build and form whatever and experiment with Play-Doh in different colors. Form figures, shapes, mix colors, use cookie cutters to create shapes, … Young children enjoy playing around with it and can do something with their own hands.
It’s like a addition or next level of blocks to build. Here your child can learn even more about gravity and is a great way to encourage critical thinking! It’s super fun for your kids and they can build a lot of different marble runs.
Pretend play in a play kitchen gives kids the opportunity to feel like they are doing things similar to you. This kitchen set in particular is really fun with the pots where kids can pretend play to grow veggies that can be cut up. The chalkboard can be used to make a grocery list or a menu. It is a great toy for encouraging children to play well with others. Kids enjoy playing with pretend food.
We want to encourage independent play as well as imaginary play with these open ended toys. A lot are simple toys but each toy teaches children and younger toddlers how to use their imagination while also keeping kids busy. You can also look at sensory toys for toddlers and Montessori toys for 1 year olds, as they also give lots of different possibilities of play.
Open ended toys make great holiday gifts. Creative play with pretend play toys can be also really fun with other kids. Together there is even more to explore as well as learn gross motor skills, sharing the same toy, critical thinking skills, and developing social skills.