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Ever since my son started to grow and recognize toys, I’ve always wondered why he doesn’t like to play with his toys! My initial thought was that he is too young and he’ll understand toys when he grows up.
But as time passed by, I noticed that he still doesn’t play with his toys, whether I bought them from fancy play stores or he got them on his birthday. He might be interested in unpacking them, then playing with each toy once or twice, and then completely losing interest.
So what’s wrong here? These toys are perfectly packed, catchy, and colorful, and according to the package they’re age-appropriate and encourage motor skills and brain development.
First, I need to explain that there are two types of toys: open-ended toys and close-ended ones. What’s the difference and which is more beneficial?
Open-ended toys are those with no definite way to play with. They don’t have a specific outcome and the child can play in countless ways, depending on their vision. They’re often found in nature or are made of natural materials.
Open-ended games could be:
- Playing with sand
- Clay and play dough
- Wooden blocks
- Undefined shapes
- Wooden benches
Why are open-ended toys important?
Open-ended toys enhance the child’s imagination and creativity. They help kids think out of the box because the games have no fixed patterns. The sky is their limit. Not only that, but it also develops the child’s strategic planning and problem-solving.
How to play with open-ended toys?
- To build a sandcastle, you need to imagine what this castle would look like, and find the tools to build it. This encourages the child to come up with solutions if a problem occurs and ways to prevent it from happening again.
- A wooden bench could be turned into a bus or an office or whatever the child imagines, which would also incorporate pretend-play that also enhances the child’s creativity and social skills.
Kids usually never get bored of these kinds of games, because they can play them over and over in a different way every time.
Close-ended toys are the most common type of toys in Egypt. They have a certain way to play with and end in one way. This type of toy is usually made of plastic and is perfectly colored. These are the toys that we’re used to such as:
- Coloring books with drawings
- Bricks with a specific shape to achieve
- Cars/trains with lanes
- And even most of the educational games at play stores
Does it mean that close-ended toys are bad for my child?
No. Some of these toys and games are really fun and challenging for the child, and give them a sense of achievement when they’re done, while some are simply not. Usually, children get bored after playing with these toys a few times. However, given what was previously mentioned and based on my personal experience, they’re not as valuable to the child’s development as the open-ended ones.
What if we can’t find open-ended toys?
You can make your own or transform close-ended toys into open-ended ones, as many toys can work as both open and close-ended depending on how you use them. Here are some ideas:
- Bricks can be used open-endedly, just ditch the picture that comes with it and build your own thing.
- Playdough comes with shapes and cutters, ditch that and create whatever you can think of.
- Instead of buying a coloring notebook with pre-drawn pictures, get your child blank papers of different colors and a bunch of colors and let them do their magic.
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