Open Ended Play At Home
Open-ended play at home
Children have the opportunity to engage in open ended play when we provide them with materials which encourage the use of their imagination. Open ended play toys, have no set purpose and, there is no set outcome of the play.
For example, when we provide a child with wooden ‘tokens’, they can be used for a wide range of purposes, including money, food, counters, mini stepping stones, and so much more. It becomes up to your child to use their creativity and imagination to decide!
In the example below, we have set the tokens on a towel - you could even use an old frame or a piece of paper. In this case, the children decided to use their tokens to create art!
Preparing open-ended toys in a variety of different ways can help to encourage imagination and creativity. This type of preparation is often referred to as an ‘invitation to play’.
Invitations to play can be a gentle way to help encourage children to begin engaging in more creative and imaginative play, particularly if a child is used to engaging with closed-play toys. These invitations will help to build interest in open-play items, and re-spark their creative flow.
Below is a tray which we set up, with no direct ‘way to play’. This means, it’s up to the child to use their creative skills. In this instance, she began building steps and using the table cover as a ‘pool’ for her ‘mermaids’ (the pegs) to swim in.
This means, children are not limited by a toys particular purpose - instead they are encouraged to consider the possibilities and unlimited potential objects can have.
Through open ended play, children can practice leadership and decision making skills, whilst exercising their creativity and imagination. In doing this, they are the leader in their play, and your role as a parent or teacher, becomes about supporting and scaffolding this learning.
Remember, there is no ‘wrong-way’ for children to engage in open ended play.
Angelique Franklyn is a mother of three and the founder of ‘Baby Play’. For open-ended play suggestions and to purchase open-ended play toys please visit her website: www.babyplay.co.nz or her Facebook page @BabyPlayNz