10 Great Toys for Open Ended Play

I recently read a great article about 4 things kids don’t need (and some things they do). This article is exactly what I’ve been trying to focus on with my family. My new year’s resolution was to rotate toys more regularly, and I wanted to make sure the toys we’re rotating through were ideal for open ended, creative play. I made a list of the toys we do have and tried to focus on ones that would meet those criteria. Here’s some of what we have:


We all love Legos and Duplos and play with them regularly. It’s one of the toys I actually don’t rotate out. I’ve tried, and they always ask for it back. We have sets that they put together, but they also like to build creatively.

10 Great Toys for Open Ended Play by Encourage Play

Wooden blocks

Recently, my sister gave me our old wooden blocks from when we were growing up. I can’t believe she still had them!


I love these! This is one of the few toys we took with us when we went to Toronto this summer. They played shop, pretended they were cookies, played factory where they made designs. Very creative play!


I actually got this from one of my former colleagues. My kids have loved it since the first day they got it! You can connect all the pieces in different configurations and make it turn. Very neat!

Marble Maze

We just got this for Christmas, and they played with it for hours the first day we opened it. They even set up their new dolls to watch the marbles go through. You can make the marbles go so many different ways, and can constantly rearrange the different pieces to    create unique mazes. Fantastic!


These can be used in so many different ways. You can use the figures in a dollhouse, or a puppet theatre, or use with other toys for more fun. Sometimes we put figures in our lego houses. As I was cleaning up and reorganizing toys, I realized I had three dollhouses! That’s unnecessary!!

Dolls/Stuffed Animals

Dolls are great for pretend play. You can play hospital, play house or have a tea party with them.

Dress up Box

Having a small variety of items for dress up can be so much fun for the kids. Make sure to set it in a place that is accessible, so they’ll actually see things and use it.

Kitchen and kitchen accessories

My kids got a toy kitchen a couple of years ago, and it’s been a great toy for us. They like to play restaurant, and they have little aprons and chef hats which they love to put on. One time, my daughter asked my son to be the waiter and he was insistent that he couldn’t do it. He didn’t want to wait and not play anything. Hilarious! Once we explained what a waiter does in a restaurant, he was on board.

Play-doh and accessories

What a versatile toy! They can make all kinds of things, they like to make cookies (do you sense a theme? - they love to pretend about cookies all the time), figures, etc. We have different items they can use with the play doh, like letter and number stamps and cutouts of different animals and characters. Plus, I think play-doh just smells good.

I have gotten rid of plenty of toys that didn’t fit into this, or toys that were too young for the kids, and I plan to continue to whittle down our toy collection throughout the year. My goal is to continue to get rid of some of the toys that don’t really fit this criteria, or ones we have a lot of and we can donate some.

What toys inspire creativity with your kids? What would you add to my list of toys?

Copyright © Encourage Play, LLC 2013-2017