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10 Open-Ended Toys that Support Learning Through Play

Written by Vivvi

Photography by Valentina Barreto

When we think about learning, our minds probably conjure images of books or classrooms. That is often the case. But for young children, learning is done through play. As adults, we use our minds to make sense of the world and our lives—but children need concrete experiences. Until around age six, children learn, make sense of their world, and find meaning in their lives by connecting it to something they already know: play.

Through play, your child will reach major developmental milestones right before your eyes. Fine motor skills will be strengthened through drawing, coordination by stacking, even math through counting and grouping. And toys can be the tools they use to get there.

“When selecting toys and materials for your child, look for items that can be used in a variety of ways depending on the child, the day, their imagination, and their developmental level,” Rachel Duda, VP of learning at Vivvi, explains of play-based learning. “Open-ended toys and materials should foster play, creativity, and imagination.”

Open-ended toys are toys that encourage your child to use their imagination. A toy car can only really be a toy car, but a set of blocks can be a tower, a castle, or a barn. And some of the best toys for toddlers, toys for babies, and for older kids, says Duda, are things you have in your home right now. “Pots and pans and wooden spoons turn into musical instruments; plastic Tupperware containers turn into homes for small animals or into stacking or nesting cups,” she explains. “Scarves become a game of peek-a-boo, a swaddle for a doll baby or even a bandage for an injured leg at the doctor’s office.”

Check out the slideshow below for 10 Vivvi-recommended open-ended toys to support learning through play!

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