What makes toys exciting for kids? That is a speculative question, but I think an open-ended toy is ideal for preschoolers and toddlers. Toys typically fall into two categories Passive and Active.
What are Passive and Active Toys
Passive toys are simple objects that promote active learning. A passive toy will only operate if a child manipulates and activates the toy. This helps to promote imaginative play, exploration, and creative thinking.
Active toys are the opposite of passive toys, encouraging a child to simply be entertained. These toys also tend to be more of a structured toy which does not have as long of a lifespan in children’s play.
Blocks are a staple in our playroom and we have so many variations. The Notch Blocks by Guidecraft are simply amazing and can be found using this affiliated link. They lock together creating a sturdy structure that a younger sibling cannot quickly destroy.
In addition to their sturdy build, they are quite large. The set comes with 89 pieces which allowed us to make a fort big enough for both kids to play inside. The Notch Blocks took block building to another level. In addition to the pieces, this set comes with 10 double-sided concept cards that help to give inspiration for builds and related words for vocabulary expansion.
This set is also safe for indoor and outdoor use. We took them outside and Lily decided she wanted to set up a food truck. This was her dessert truck that also served smoothies.
The Guidecraft Branch Blocks (affiliate link) became the food for our food truck. If you follow us closely, you will notice it is rare to see play food. Again we follow open-ended resources mostly and play food is too restrictive. In the world of play, anything can be a cookie!
The Branch Blocks went from play food to a small world setup! The blocks quickly became a home for fairies and it was filled with a variety of treasures.
“The natural connections children make to formal learning through the use of open ended and naturalistic resources should be a motivation to all adults to ensure that these are freely available to young children both indoors and outdoors.”Eric Erickson
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”Benjamin Franklin
The freedom to openly explore, make messes and learn, all while having fun, are some of the many benefits to sensory play! This Guidecraft sand and water table (affiliate link) is perfect for sensory play!
The clear base allows children to observe what is happening below the water. It is perfect for sink-or-float experiments! The kids collected nature treasures on our walk (fall has the best selection) and we explored them in water play!
We made predictions as to whether or not our items would sink or float. Interestingly enough, Lily predicted correctly. The pine cones, and leaves floated while the acorns and rocks sunk to the bottom.
This table also has adjustable legs to allow it to grow with your child. We are using the middle height which is perfect for my 4.5 and 1.5 year old children.
Which Type of Toy is Best?
This is a question that will vary for each family. For my family, we prefer passive and open-ended resources. I have inquisitive little ones that enjoy exploring how things work and these are the toys that fit our lifestyle best. This is not to say battery operated or flashing light toys are wrong, we just tend to witness prolonged engagement with open-ended toys and more creative play.
As with all things in the journey of parenthood, do what makes you and your family the happiest! Happy playing!
These products can be found using these affiliate links.