The Secret to the Perfect Toy: Less Toy More Fun

Updated: Apr 19

ABC to me, stands for a common question I get from parents. “What Accessories or Toys to Buy for my Child?” It is a question which comes to me as a teacher and mother. A common occurrence during Birthdays, Christmas, and Diwali. After all, parents just want to give their child the best experience.

Good Toys Are Open-Ended toys

The ideal toy is only 10% toy but 90% child! What am I talking about? Open-ended toys surely! These kinds of toys have entertained and enriched children from the ages of 2 all the way through 10! I’ve been suggesting and practicing this for the last two decades and it has always had a positive impact! These toys have been absolute favourites in our Leapbridge preschools and children never get bored of them. They can remain popular with the child from infancy to preschool and even primary school. More importantly children always find new and exciting things to make with them!

What are open-ended toys?

Simply put, an open-ended toy is any toy that kids can play safely on their own. No need for instructions, and they require minimal parental supervision. It is one toy that can be used in many ways, but how they use it may change as they grow. Such toys are popular across genders, timeless, and usually unbranded (so mostly they’re not very expensive).

You’re probably wondering what I’m talking about? It’s simple. I am talking about toys like block sets, playing dough, crayons, chalk, and black boards. The purpose behind open-ended toys is to promote open-ended play activities.

During open-ended play the process of creating is more important than what they make. It allows children to connect with their emotions, imagine, think, and express themselves creatively. Such toys help develop critical thinking. It forces the child to think and ask:

  • If I put a triangular pyramid on top of a square cube, would it look like a house?

  • Can I place four round spheres/ balls under the square cube and make it like a car?

  • Is it even possible to balance a square cube on four round spheres/ balls?

Everyday objects that can become open-ended toys

The above options are what you would normally find at a local toy store, and they do make great gifts. But don’t be surprised if your child chooses to play with the box instead. There’s nothing more open-ended than a cardboard box! A bigger box can become a car, a one-man fighter plane, or a fort… Really the child’s imagination is the only factor here. Cardboard boxes aren’t the only objects that children can use to play with. A rubber tyre can become a pretend window, a bouncy castle, and even a comfy seat.

Open-endedtoys come in many forms but what they all have in common is that they force the child to get imaginative and think critically. However, sometimes previously over stimulated children can find such toys a little plain. Start with giving them a simple task and then let them decide how to go ahead. E.g., Ask the little one to make a ball from the playing dough. Then ask them to make a small snowman. Then ask them what they’d like to make and let them make it. As the child grows and gets more creative, they’ll think of newer things to make with the same toy. Don’t be surprised when the tires that were once chairs suddenly transform into a table with some flattened cardboard pieces placed across. It is truly delightful and precious to see how children of all ages grow their logical reasoning ability with such toys.

Less Toy More Benefits

Lately, my news feed has been clustered with stories about the vast amounts of waste that we create as humans and the looming climate crisis. Unlike the regular toys you usually find, open-ended toys don’t use batteries and are not as easily broken. They are hence less likely to end up in a landfill or choke a helpless sea animal. It allows you a practical opportunity to teach your children about being environmentally responsible.

When the toy is more basic and has fewer elements, this has two large benefits. Firstly, the child is more focused. Secondly, it encourages children to think, imagine, explore, and build. Toys like these go a long way in training our young ones to think and solve problems. It helps ensure that regardless of the obstacles, our children will grow to adapt and think their way through. I believe that it fuels their development as responsible and creative thought leaders.

Guest Blog by: Prriety Gosalia

Chief Content Officer, Early Years, Navneet Education Limited

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