Here’s a look at our favorite open-ended toys to spark imaginative and developmental play. As we’re all looking to fill the hours during the “safer at home” restrictions right now, open-ended toys help foster creativity and more independent play (so you can get stuff done around the house). Here are our family’s favorite open-ended toys right now for our 2 & 4 year old boys:
What are Open-ended toys?
Open ended toys are toys that grow with our kids and that can be used in many different ways for years to come. Susie from Busy Toddler explains the two different categories of toys nicely:
“One and Done Toys usually have batteries, they might light up, or make noise. These toys entertain a child, they talk to them, sing to them, ask questions, and usually have just ONE purpose (meaning you can’t use the toy in any way other than how it was intended).
Open-Ended Toys on the other hand allow the child to be the entertainer and make the play happen however they see fit...They are the best toys for toddlers (and toys will keep loving, and using, and playing with far into the future).“
Here’s a look at our favorite open-ended toys by category that our boys will play with for hours:
BEST CONSTRUCTION & BUILDING TOYS
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Magna-Tiles – We have the Picasso tiles, which are great. We love the car bases that they make as well. I’ve also heard great things about the Connetix Magnet Tiles, which claim to have stronger magnets for studier builds
Basic Blocks– Here’s a great basic block set from Melissa and Doug we’ve had for years and is still in great shape
Rainbow – When I first saw the Grimm’s Large Stacking Rainbow, I thought it was jut one of those toys that looked good on a shelf. But after learning more about it, I saw what a great toy it was for imaginative building and construction for tunnels, bridges and towers. It’s definitely an investment, but a toy that’s been put to good use at our house…and looks pretty too 🙂 Here’s an example of how you can use (here is the road pictured and also featured in the next section:
CARS & TRANSPORTATION
Garbage Truck and Trash Cans – Our boys love garbage trucks and this Large Matchbox Garbage Truck has been our favorite so far. One catch, it’s exclusive to Amazon and sometimes marked up by second hand sellers, price point should be around $40. Here are some great trash cans to complement
Road – This Way to Play Road is a little pricey, but works so nicely with the Grimm’s rainbow (pictured above) and is extremely durable. It can be used indoors or outdoors and is easily handwashed.
Duplu Cars – These Duplo Car Creation sets are great for kids of all ages. They help to develop both fine motor skills and foster creativity. My 2 year old builds more basic cars, while my 4 year old likes combining multiple sets (we have 3) to create giant cars and trucks. This Duplo Set and Storage Container along with Duplo Building Plate are also great complements
Create your Own Road – This play tape is perfect to help your little ones create their own world of roads, highways or racetracks with their existing toy cars and trucks
Car Transporter – This Car Transporter is one of the vehicles in our truck collection that gets the most play time. It is durable and the kids love moving the cars in and out. It encourages motor skills development and imaginative play
Cash Register – This Cash Register from Lakeshore is simple, but fun – featuring both money for them to learn with and a credit card!
Play Kitchen and Pans – This Wooden Cooktop Set by Melissa and Doug is great for kitchen/cooking play, but takes up much less space that a full play kitchen, which is nice. Extra pots and pans like this or this are also a great complement, along with these measuring cups the boys love to play with
Ice Cream Set – We purchased this Ice Cream Set after seeing our sons always sprint right to it at friends’ houses. Kids 2+ love it and the boys have logged a lot of play time with it
Vet Kit & Grooming Kits – The Melissa and Doug pretend sets are so great! We have both the Play Vet Set and the Play Grooming Set. The boys love helping out the animals, and these sets double as a doctor and hairstyle kit for people too!
Tea Set – Initially it didn’t occur to me to get a play tea set for my boys until I saw some other kids playing with one at the pool, and our boys were so interested! They love to play with it at the pool or water table, but also works great inside with their imagination and no water. Here’s a set in pink for the girls too!
Music Set – This Toddler Music Set has also been a great addition to our house and is nice for a little Music Together jam session without having to leave the house
Play Animals – Last, but not least are play animals. You can use these anywhere or for anything. Lately we’ve been making homes out of Amazon boxes to help build a zoo. My kids really like this high quality Animal Safari Set. They’re great quality and my kids like playing with the mom and baby for each animal