Epsom College in Malaysia, KLIA
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Little Angel Kindergarten
Small Wonder Malaysia
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Odyssey, The Global Preschool (Mont Kiara)

Open-Ended Toys That Will Make Your Child Put Down the Tablet

by on 03/08/2021 3181

How much is too much screen time for children? Well, there’s no one right answer especially during this ongoing pandemic. You may still want to set limits to the amount of time they spend on their tablets or computers, but they don’t need to be too rigid. You can mix up your child’s screen time routine with other offline options. Open-ended toys are great alternatives, and they are every bit as exciting as the tablet. 

What are open-ended toys?

Open-ended toys are toys that can be played with in many different ways. They don’t dictate how the child should play. The same toy could be given to five different children, and each would play with the toy in a different way depending on their imagination, developmental ability and personal interests. For example, pretend food, wooden building blocks and action figurines. And the same toy can be played by children of different ages, whether it’s a toddler, a preschooler or beyond.  

Benefits of open-ended toys

Open-ended toys are amazing for children’s development. They benefit children in a number of ways, namely:

  • Creativity and imagination

Since open-ended toys don’t come with a fix set of rules on how to play with them, children are allowed to fully unleash their creativity to its fullest. They are free to express their imaginations and make their own decisions on how they play.


  • Social-emotional development

Open-ended toys create fantastic opportunities for children to learn courteous social behaviour and how to consider their friends’ emotions during playtime. For instance, children learn how to work with others to create a make-believe scenario with their dolls.  


  • Become open to learn new concepts

Playing with open-ended toys can help children become inquisitive learners. If, for example, they bring their animal figurines to play at the park, it might stimulate their interest to learn about the birds that fly past or the types of flowers they see there.   

Types of open-ended toys for all ages

Here are some great open-ended toys and resources to choose from (sorted into different categories of play):

1. Sensory play

- Pop fidget

- Kinetic sand

- Cloud dough

- Playdough

- Slime

- Dish soap

- Fabric (e.g. felt, silk, muslin)

- Pantry items (e.g. rice, pasta, beans, food dye)

2. Construction play

- Lego

- Duplo

- Magnetic tiles

- Mobilo

- Wooden blocks

- Jenga blocks

- Trainset

- GRIMM’s blocks

- Gluckskafer slats

- Bristle blocks

- Rainbow blocks

3. Pretend play

- Costumes

- Fabrics

- Dolls

- Doll house

- Puppets

- Cardboard

- Pretend food and dinnerware

- Toy cash register

4. Fine motor play

- Scoops and spoons

- Playdough

- Tweezers

- Threading activities

- Gardening

- Getting dressed with buttons and zippers

- Perler beads

5. Small world play

- Toy vehicles

- Animal figurines

- Dolls

- Miniature furniture

- Felt playmats

- Natural objects (e.g. shells, pebbles)

6. Cognitive play

- Puzzles

- Matching games

- Logic games (e.g. Chocolate Fix, Kanoodle, ColorKu)

- MathLink cubes

- Dominoes

- Rainbow Pebbles (a sorting and classifying activity set)

- Magnetic counting chips