Batteries Not Required: The Joy Of Open-Ended Toys
Remember those toys you use to play with when you were still a kid (blocks, cars, action figures, doll houses, and the like)?
They were quite simple — no batteries or even any electronic device required in order for them to function. And yet, what they lacked in technology due to their simplicity, didn’t in any way hinder you from having fun.
You didn’t realize it then, but those were open-ended toys, and they boosted your creative imagination and encouraged social interaction. They provided early education that strengthened the creativity you now bear as an adult.
Close-ended toys, on the other hand (such as books, puzzles and shape-sorters), worked a different way — they are designed to build attention and encourage children to work toward completion.
What Is Open-Ended Play?
Open-ended play has no limitations or guidelines. It doesn’t revolve much around how a child is playing, but rather more on letting the child “go with the flow” and have fun.
When you hand a toy that makes noise when a button is pressed, the child may have fun, but only for a limited time. This will not challenge the child’s mind creatively and may eventually cause boredom. The “fun” factor easily fades away. But with open-ended play, you allow your child to create his own scenario using the toy, according to how he wants to play.
When selecting gifts in this more technologically advanced world, parents tend to focus more on the recipient. But another important factor that shouldn’t be overlooked is the quality of play that can result from the toy.
Simple playthings such as blocks, books and dollhouses can serve various purposes. For example, building blocks or bricks can either be grabbed or used in building a tower. Your child will not just enjoy playing with it, but will also hone their fine motor skills during the process.
As children try to explore the world around them, they should continue to enhance their imagination by savoring the joy of playing with open-ended toys.
Top Qualities of Open-Ended Toys
1. They are environment-friendly.
The downside of battery-powered toys is that they cause harm to the environment and they are not cost-effective in the long run. You can do a favor for the planet by choosing eco-friendly toys.
By choosing open-ended toys during the first few months of your child’s life, you can encourage their sensory development using natural components.
Here are other benefits you can get from eco-friendly toys:
You can save on energy consumption.
Since you won’t have to recharge batteries, you get to save on energy costs and contribute to reduced battery waste. At the same time, you will be protecting your children from the toxic metals that batteries contain.
You prevent toxic waste buildup.
Sustainably designed toys don’t run out of batteries, and this prevents the accumulation of toxic waste. Compared to battery-powered toys, wooden toys don’t turn into piles of plastic garbage once the batteries run out or once the toy breaks.
2. They help develop a child’s imagination.
In early childhood, imagination and creativity are vital elements for growth. They provide the foundation for empathy, reasoning, as well as language. Traditional playthings like open-ended toys stimulate the child’s senses on all levels.
These days, adults are quite addicted to mobile devices and other gadgets, so it’s easy for children to take their cue from this and be enticed to try new toys that similarly light up and make cool sounds.
Electronics are not entirely bad; as a matter of fact, many educational paraphernalia are geared towards teaching children early literacy. Unfortunately, too much time spent on using electronic toys can prevent children from creating something on their own, or at the very least initiating free and pretend play.
Parents would do well to study up on how open-ended toys contribute to early childhood education and development. The toys boost children’s problem-solving skills as well as critical thinking. Most importantly, they foster independence in the child by providing the satisfaction of doing and thinking up things on his own.
Playing with these toys with their peers also encourages children to engage in social interactions.
3. They are durable and long-lasting.
Finally, a notable advantage of open-ended toys is that, when treated with care and lovingly used, they can last longer and be used and reused as your children grow. Your eldest child can pass on wooden blocks and clutch toys to his younger siblings.
Families (especially growing ones) typically need to work with a budget, and these toys won’t require parents to spend excessively. Open-ended toys allow families to be practical while still allowing children to benefit from the truly rewarding ways to play.
They may not be the flashiest toys around, but they do have an edge in terms of learning value compared to most electronic toys. So before you buy the latest toy, take a moment and consider the benefits of more traditional playthings. Invest in a high-quality open-ended toy to make sure that the fun that play brings does not dwindle over the years, while still offering more learning opportunities.
Your next visit to the toy store doesn’t have to become a daunting task. Your initial act of love — to bring joy to your child through the purchase of a toy — should not have to go way beyond your budget.
What matters is not the price tag on the toy you bought, but how you prioritize your child’s well-being.
Trust your instinct as a parent (rather than all the colorful, animated toy commercials) and stay firm when your kids ask for more time to play with the latest gadgets. After all, the joy of playing emerges whenever you let your child’s imagination run wild with toys.
So if you like what you hear in terms of the above benefits, take a look at our wide selection of baby, toddler and kid friendly toys now.