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The Power of Open Ended Play - Places Whee Go

The Power of Open Ended Play

What is open-ended play?

Open-ended play allows children to express themselves without limitations or rules. It gives them total control of the outcome. It lets their imagination guide them in whatever direction they feel like going that day. They are not limited to a baby doll that only crawls, or a racetrack that only has one way to build. Their play has unending possibilities and is guided by whatever they can dream.

Why is open-ended play important?  

It gives a child a sense of independence. It allows them to make decisions and learn from them. Through trial and error, they become confident and develop strong leadership skills. They learn they can imagine it and achieve it. It pushes them to be creative, think critically, and problem solve.

What are open-ended toys or material?

Open ended toys or materials are any loose part than can be manipulated and used in various ways and designs without predetermination. They can be transformed by the imagination. Examples of loose part toys are wood blocks, dolls, stuffed toys, & playdough. If you would rather keep your play more natural you could use sticks, pebbles, sand, or boards. The list is endless.

How to choose materials/toys?

Open-ended playthings may not always include a typical toy. Have you ever bought your child a toy and they play with the box? The box is a perfect example of open-ended materials. However, you can be intentional with open-ended play. For example, maybe your child needs to improve gross motor skills. You could provide them with long boards, large cardboard boxes, and heavier objects they are capable of handling. Place the materials in a small space but apart enough that if they play with them together, they will have to move them. Another idea would be to put buckets near water and put a table a short walk away but far enough if they choose to use the table, they will have to tote the bucket of water a small distance.

A child can grow in cognitive, social & emotional, speech & language, fine motor, and gross motor stages of development through open-ended play. What makes it great is all you have to do is provide the opportunities.

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