Thursday, July 7, 2011

Open-Ended Play: Keep It Simple

[Open-Ended Play Series, Part 4]
PART 1     PART 2     PART 3
Wooden stick horses and hockey sticks (aka Revolutionary War musket) see endless hours of play here at our home...

And finally, we wrap up how we can help facilitate and protect free-play:

1. protect free-time
2. don’t micro-manage
3. keep it simple

In our culture where bigger and more is better, we have to make a conscious step back. Toys that “do” less are better because they require our children to engage more! Of course this is easier said than done. Toy stores are lined with a dizzying array of splashy toys that talk, beep and make all kinds of noise. Unfortunately, that takes a lot of the imaginative elements out of play. Instead of teaching our kids to rely on the noises and pre-set scripts for playing with a toy, we should be encouraging new uses for old items and choosing toys that require a child’s imagination to come alive. Toys that foster the imagination and can be used differently each time the child plays with it develop creativity and critical thinking! So what are some examples of toys that help facilitate open-ended play? Well, stay tuned for a tour of some of my favorites…

In the meantime, I'd love to hear some of yours!

1 comment:

  1. I know these are nothing new, but simple wood blocks are some of Dia's favorites. She makes them into kichens (the little cylindrical ones are cups for "dinking"), zoos, beds for "sleep time" for her dolls, chairs for her animals, stacks them, etc. She thinks of more uses for them than I do!

    She does have a plastic, electronic toy or two gifted to us from a friend or such and while she does like them, they never entertain for more than a few minutes, whereas the blocks will engage her for nearly an afternoon. I also love the simpler toys because they last so much longer, too (better for the budget).

    Looking forward to your recommendations!