12 open-ended toys for toddlers that promote creativity

By |Published On: January 20th, 2021|0 Comments|

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Open-ended toys for toddlers

My son just discovered Lego.

He can spend an hour a day building, perfecting his imaginative dragon castle or 6-wheeled truck. Mostly, he’s playing by himself, but occasionally he needs my help or advice.

He’s curious. So, I give him small age-appropriate assignments, like:

“Can you build a car?” or “Can you build your house even higher?” or “Where is the entrance, can you make one?”.

That’s one of the many benefits of open-ended toys for toddlers. They stimulate our kids’ curiosity and enable them to learn through play.

Today, I’m sharing my all-time favorite open ended toys for toddlers. My toddler loves playing with each of these, and they’re perfect for independent play, so you can get things done around the house (or just enjoy a well-deserved break).

Here, you can find open ended toys for babies.

What are open-ended toys for toddlers

Open-ended toys for toddlers are designed to inspire your child’s imagination and creativity. These are toys with no rule book, no restrictions. They can be played with in multiple ways, unlike close-ended toys like puzzles and colouring books.

Open-ended toys often allow our toddlers to build, dismantle, and rebuild. Or create, erase and recreate.

Most importantly, these toys encourage critical thinking and questions such as:

  • What happens if I put this here?
  • Does it fit together or not?
  • How high or wide can I build it?

Your toddler will have fun with these 12 budget friendly toddler toys at home. These are simple open ended toys for toddlers that can activate your little one and you can call it a parenting win.

What is open-ended play and why is it important?

Open-ended play is playing without rules. While many toys and games come with a set of rules, instructions, or guidelines (like board games or train sets), open-ended play takes a sandbox approach to play that encourages problem solving, discovery, and invention.

Open-ended play is a tub of a thousand different Lego blocks as opposed to a Lego dinosaur with ten pages of instructions. With open-ended play, your toddler builds their own dinosaur, rather than following someone else’s rules.

Read next: How to encourage independent play

12 best open-ended toys for toddlers

Lego is far from the only good example of open-ended toys for toddlers. There are plenty of ways to stimulate the creative mind and imagination of our kids.

These are the best open-ended toys for toddlers. They’re timeless and the way your kids use them will change as they grow.

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An easel is perhaps the most simple example of open-ended play for toddlers. One of the first and best things that toddlers love to do is draw and create, experiment with colours and shapes.

This easel comes with a blackboard on one side, and a dry-erase whiteboard on the other. There are also coloured clips for you to attach paper if you or your toddler want to preserve their artwork forever. An easel like this one offers endless possibilities for open-ended play and creativity.

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open-ended toys for toddlersopen-ended toys for toddlers

Climb and Crawl Activity Play Set

This 5-piece set of soft and squishy shapes invites your curious little climber to explore and even reshape their environment however they please. They can crawl, climb, and slide.

The pieces are all different shapes and sizes, and each one is lightweight, soft, and completely safe for your toddler to explore on their own.

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Soft Ball Pool

Think back to your own happiest childhood memories and, chances are, a ball pit is in one of them. A soft ball pool is a place of fun and safety.

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Play Food

One of Theo’s favorite toys is his IKEA Mini kitchen where he ‘cooks and bakes’. What makes this extra fun is having play food like a pizza, vegetables and bread.

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open-ended toys for toddlersopen-ended toys for toddlers

Magnetic Tiles and Blocks

My son loves these magnetic tiles. The tiles all magnetise together, allowing your toddler to create both 2D and 3D shapes.

They might begin by connecting a few shapes to create the silhouette of a boat. Before long, they’re connecting walls and ceilings together to build a 3D castle big enough to stand in. Like Lego, this is a set of safe, colourful, tangible blocks that work in tandem with your little one’s growing imagination and skills.

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101 Piece STEM Engineering Set

This STEM engineering set is made up of 101 colourful pieces that can be connected and reconnected together to build incredible structures, from a model dinosaur to a car with working wheels.

Toys like this one are amazing for developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, as well as feeding the curiosity and problem-solving abilities of your child.

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open-ended toys for toddlersopen-ended toys for toddlers

Grimms Rainbow

At first glance, this open-ended toy looks like a simple stack of arches that form a rainbow, but what your toddler actually has here is a series of endless discoveries at their fingertips.

Watch your little one experiment with shapes and patterns as they map out these coloured blocks on the floor to build an endless list of creative shapes. Beyond that, they can also get a handle on the ideas of balance and gravity as they experiment with standing structures.

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Realistic Toy Animals

This set of realistic safari animals is one of the best open-ended toys for toddlers that doesn’t involve problem solving or creating anything. These realistic toy animals simply teach your curious little one about the big wide world and the amazing things it contains.

It allows them to build a habitat on the floor and bring these creatures to life with sounds and movements — they can inject themselves into their toys in a positive way.

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It’s no secret that Lego is one of my favorite open-ended toys for toddlers. I’m Danish after all 🙂

Lego is probably the most wholesome, most cherished, and most successful form of open-ended play in the world. And that’s for a very good reason: it works.

There is no end to the possibilities that Lego bricks provide. From people to animals to buildings and vehicles, Lego provides open-ended play for kids of all ages.

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Kinetic Sand

Building sandcastles by the sea is a kind of magic that can’t be beat. It can, however, be replicated in the home thanks to kinetic sand. This amazing open-ended toy mimics the properties of wet beach sand, meaning your toddler can create FUN structures with their bare hands.

No water, no mess, no waste. Like Play-Doh, this is an open-ended toy for moulding, feeling, and kinetically exploring what’s possible with your hands, your eyes, and your imagination.

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Brio Toddler Wobbler

If your toddler is at that exciting and crucial stage where they’re ready to explore the world around them on their own two feet, you can give them a bit of extra support and confidence with a Toddler Wobbler.

Theo learned to walk with this. I just put a few heavy books in at first, so it didn’t tip over.

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Rainbow Scarfs

These colorful rainbow scarfs provide your little one with complete and endless creativity. They can tie this into their hair, into their clothes and bags, and even tie them together for pretty patterns.

This is open-ended play that incorporates fashion and design in an exciting and colourful way.

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About the Author: Mama Miri

open-ended toys for toddlers
I’m a mama of two boys, and I'll help you be the mom you want to be. Parenting is hard enough without all the guilt. So let’s stop trying to be perfect moms and just be real ones.

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