The Importance of Open-Ended Play
Do you find your children thrive when they are free to be creative? It is often a child’s natural tendency to explore the world around them. Once we allow them to use their imagination without interruption, we will find they become enraptured in playing with whatever they have available to them.
What is Open-Ended Play?
Open-ended play is just as it sounds. It is allowing children the liberty to explore, tinker, and engage in something—whether it be a toy or activity—without rules, instructions, and hindrances to their imagination.
Sensory play is a specific type of open-ended play where your child is supplied with materials and toys to engage all of their five senses. This may look like providing bowls, spoons, beans, and water and allowing them to sort, scoop, crunch, and create with the different materials.
Does the idea of your child having free rein of loose materials give you some anxiety? When first introducing sensory play it’s important to set your expectations around respecting materials and keeping things in the designated exploration space before giving them your full trust to explore at their own pace, make decisions, and experiment!
Why Sensory Play is Crucial for Child Development?
Here at The Creative Learning Co., we believe in letting young children learn through play. The early years are crucial for brain development and engaging their imagination. Hands-on learning without a formal structure around the toy or activity provides a solid foundation for your child to continue to build off for years to come.
There are many benefits to sensory and open-ended play. Depending on the activity your child is engaging in, a few of the skills they may be learning include:
- Fine Motor Skills
- Letter or Number Identification
- Letter Sound Recognition
The boards and accessories that we offer at The Creative Learning Co. support a child's natural desire to learn through hands-on, active play. When this free play is paired with engagement with their peers, it gives a unique opportunity for young children to learn how to work with others.
In an article she published for MSU, Carrie Shrier states, “Play, and in particular creative play, has been identified as a key component of building children’s resilience, ability to focus and the ability to act intentionally, even when the outcome is unknown. These skills translate into competence and capability in adults.”
As adults, we can often get distracted by the seemingly “more important” things in life, but when children engage in free play—they are doing the most important work for their development and growth.
Open-Ended Toy Ideas to Inspire Your Little Ones
Instead of relying on the imagination of others to prompt your child’s play—allow them to establish their own storylines, characters, and ideas.
One way to support brain development is by providing objects and opportunities to experience the joy and excitement of open-ended play. If open-ended play is new to your family—it may be helpful to gift them a new toy that facilitates this freedom to explore and discover.
photo credit: Wendy Jin @ohhappyplayday
We desire to work with parents by helping them bridge the gap and offer fun, new, and engaging opportunities for their children to play and learn. Our Potion Board opens the door to a world of scientific discovery for your child. Fill the potion bottles with water beads, colored water, rice, or beans, and watch as your child scoops, pours, and creates, all from their own imagination.
Other toy ideas to encourage and invite children to engage in open-ended play include:
- Loose Parts
- Cardboard Boxes
- Nature – Sticks, Rocks, and Leaves
It does not have to be complicated, just remember that the primary goal is to allow your child complete freedom to create and discover for themselves!
Inspire. Learn. Grow.
Here at The Creative Learning Co., we believe that play is enough! Our products are here to support your child’s imagination—not replace it! We invite you to come and discover a new way of learning through open-ended play!