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What Toys are Best for Child Development

When you watch a child play you’ll notice them doing at least one of the following: problem solving, assessing, analysing and strategising - play is serious business, it is enabling them to develop critical skills that will help them in the present and into the future.  

The market is flooded with a multitude of gadgets and gizmos and it can certainly be overwhelming to decipher what, not only has the fun factor, so your child enjoys playing - but also helps them to learn key skills. 

According to an article published by Michigan State University ‘Open-ended’ toys have many benefits and “offer important brain development opportunities” 

What are Open-ended toys?

An ‘Open-ended’ toy is multipurpose and multi-functional, its use isn’t restricted to one activity. Many electronic or screen-based toys are typically designed for one function and can not be used in other ways. Open-ended toys encourage children to use their creativity, imagination and problem solving skills and because they are multifunctional children find different and exciting ways to use the toy. The toys keep children engaged for longer, stimulate more areas of the brain and create a more meaningful learning experience. 

Here are some examples of open-ended toys you should have in your child's activity room.

  • Rainbow Blocks:

Rainbow blocks can be used in a number of ways. Your child can stack the blocks inside each other, in doing this developing an understanding of size - that the smaller square stacks inside the larger, differentiating between the largest and smallest. Organising the shapes according to colour, or asking the child to stack multiple colours in a specific order, helps them to understand sequencing. 

The blocks can also be stacked upward, children enjoy building and crashing down towers - this develops an understanding of cause and effect.

Children learn and understand colours, they enjoy seeing their world through the lenses of different colours and can engage their imagination, for example they can imagine they are under the sea when looking through the  blue lens.

  • Dress-ups:

Children can use a variety of materials and accessories to transform themselves into fun and quirky characters. They may choose to be an acrobat, a dentist or even a fluffy yellow sea creature with 10 legs! Children can spend hours, playing and roaring with laughter as their characters develop, taking on funny voices and sometimes their own special language. 

  • Building/tool sets

Building tools allow children to create a variety of objects using their imagination. My daughter has made many vehicles and even a filming light after observing me running a photoshoot. 

The attention and time required for creating means children can play for hours and, without knowing it, are developing the critical skills of concentration and focus.

When kids are creating a new object using the pieces from the toolkit they are engaging their brain to find what pieces will work and what tools they will need to create it. You may observe them picking up a piece then putting it back, collecting their thoughts, and then selecting another piece that could work. Developing these problem-solving skills will help with many other areas of their lives.