Best Open Ended Toys For Kids
Open ended toys for kids are an important part of childhood development. Not only do they foster creativity and imagination, they also help to promote language learning as well.
Below you can find a list of some of the best open ended toys for kids of all ages including toddlers, pre-schoolers and school aged kids.
Make sure to share this gift guide with your friends and family in the lead up to the holidays!
What are Open Ended Toys?
Open ended toys are creative toys for kids. They are child led toys which can be played with in many different ways.
These toys for imagination give kids the opportunity for kids to play creatively and independently without parental guidance or instruction for hours on end.
A toy that is classed as an “Open ended toy” is usually something very simple. It won’t have batteries or make lots of the same noises over and over. It allows the child to lead and play with it in the way in which they feel like it depending on their mood.
Because they function in different ways, open ended toys can also grow with your child, and used differently as they get older. Many experts agree that open ended toys for kids are the best gifts they can receive.
15 Best Open Ended Toys for Kids
Find below a list of our favourite open ended toys for kids to keep them busy and promote creativity, conversation, and learning.
1. Building Blocks
One of the best open ended toys for toddlers and pre-schoolers are building blocks and every child should have some no matter which type.
Toddlers can start to build towers out of cubed blocks, and older children can get more creative building castles, houses, and other things out of different shapes. Our recommendations include:
- Melissa and Doug Standard Blocks
- Lewo Large Construction Blocks
- Mortime Wooden Domino Blocks
- Agirlgle Rainbow Block Set
- City Construction Blocks
Another excellent open ended toy for kids is an easel which has a variety of uses.
There are many different types from white board and blackboard easels to art easels with paint holders etc. Kids can draw with chalk, markers which can be rubbed off and used over and over again.
If you place paper on it they paint or draw pictures to keep. Some even allow kids to place magnets on them. Our recommendations include:
- Crayola Kids Wooden Easel with Paint Pots
- Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Standing Art Easel
- Double-Sided Tabletop Easel
3. Classic LEGO / DUPLO
Classic LEGO or DUPLO are the perfect toy for creativity and imagination.
While you can get specialised boxes with instructions to build something specific, I find the classic boxes with coloured blocks are better for kids to use their imagination. Build and pull apart again to build something else. Our recommendations include:
- LEGO Classic Medium Brick Box
- LEGO Classic Creative Suitcase
- LEGO DUPLO Classic Starter Box
- LEGO DUPLO Classic Delux Box
4. Toy Animals / Dinosaurs
Toy animal or dinosaur figurines are another group of fun open end toys for kids to really foster their imagination, and help their language skills through communication. See some examples below:
5. Magnetic Tiles / Blocks
Another similar open ended toy for kids to LEGO and building blocks are the magnetic tiles. They allow children to be creative and use their imaginations at any age.
They can be used to make simple shapes while kids are younger, and as they get older, they can make more challenging creations. Our recommendations include:
6. Musical Instrument
Creativity will peak when kids are able to create their own music. Whether it be maracas, drums, piano or a guitar, music is one of the most open ended activities kids can take part in at any age. See some examples below:
7. Costumes to Dress Up
Kids love dressing up and playing pretend, so costumes make the perfect open ended activity.
Whether it is princesses and knights, doctors and nurses, or super heroes and villains, playing pretend offers the opportunity for endless creativity. See some examples below:
8. Play Kitchen
Another great pretend play toy for creativity and imagination is a kid’s kitchen which provides lots of open-end activity opportunities for kids.
Whether they are pretending to cook some cupcakes, do the dishes, or do the cleaning up, a play kitchen gives kids the chance to use their imagination for hours on end. See our recommendations below:
9. Play Dough or Kinetic Sand
Nothing allows as much creativity as good old playdough. Not only is it great for fine motor skills, it is the perfect sensory activity and allows kids to use their imagination by creating different things with their hands.
Kinetic sand is also great for the senses. You can find some examples below:
10. Trains, Cars, Boats, Aeroplanes etc
If you have a little one who loves their cars and trains, then these open ended toys can create lots of opportunities for using their imagination.
Cars, trains, boats, aeroplanes and other modes of transport are great fun for all ages, and moving these toys around helps to develop their coordination and motor skills. They also create lots of opportunities for communication and developing language skills while telling stories. See our recommendations below:
- Wooden train table and accessories
- Traffic Play Mat
- Kids Transport set with cars and aeroplanes
- Wooden truck and car set
- Wooden pirate ship set
11. Play House / Dolls House
Whether you have a little girl or little boy, a play house is a must have open ended toy in every home.
It doesn’t just have to be for dolls, it can be used for other figurines too. As mentioned, pretend play fosters kids imagination and an open ended toy such as a dolls house can be used in a different way every time they use it with different toys, different accessories, and different stories and play ideas. See some ideas below:
- Melissa & Doug Hi-Rise Playhouse and furniture set
- All seasons wooden play house 3 story
- Top bright doll house with furniture
- Playhouse wooden furniture
12. Cash Register
A play cash register is the perfect open ended toy because it can be turned into various different settings such as a supermarket, shop, café or restaurant.
Playing pretend promotes language development and allows kids to use their imagination. It also helps kids out with their math skills too once they get a little older and learn to add and subtract numbers.
13. Tools and work bench
Kids love to imitate, and with tools and a workbench they can feel like they are “fixing things”.
The perfect open ended toy for kids imagination and again creative play. It can be as simple as a work belt with a few toys, or you can even find proper wooden work benches with lifelike tools. See some examples below:
Paint is a must have in every house for young kids to get creative. Whether it is finger paint, or painting with brushes, painting allows kids to express their creativity to the max. See our recommendations below:
15. Puppets / Dolls
A classic kids toy that is a must have for any child. Puppets and dolls are the perfect open ended toy to foster kids imagination.
Whether it be imitating real life and looking after a baby doll, or playing pretend with different puppets, kids can use these types of toys every day differently. Any puppets or dolls will do, see some examples below:
Why Open Ended Toys Make the Best Gifts?
Whether you are buying a gift for your own children, or another child, open ended toys are the perfect choice for many reasons:
- Open ended toys last for years: Children don’t get sick of open ended toys, there is always a different way to play with them depending on the mood of the child.
- Open ended toys foster important skills: When children play with open ended toys they are developing important skills such as language, communication, and social skills as well as fine motor skills problem solving skills and much more.
- Open ended toys for kids promote creativity: Because open ended toys are child led, there is plenty of room for kids to get creative and play with them any way they want to.
- Open ended toys can be used in different ways: Kids will find a different way to find with open ended toys every time they use them, which means there is less chance to get bored.
- Open ended toys will grow with your child: Because they can be played with in different ways, open ended toys grow with kids. So they may use the toy in a certain way as a toddler, however when they become a pre-schooler they will use them in a different way. Eg: LEGO can be used to build a tower while kids are young, but as they get older they can get more creative and build different types of objects.
What are your favourite open ended toys for kids?
I could go on and on about open ended toys for kids and how they are the best toys for creativity and imagination. They have endless benefits.
Try out some of the open ended toys and toys for imagination suggested above and let me know! While you are here check out our post on open ended questions to ask kids, to get them talking!