Now with two children, we are accumulating more and more toys as holidays and birthdays go by. Often times, these toys are played with for a while, and then almost forgotten about. With friends and family starting to ask what the boys would like for Christmas, I’ve been looking at open-ended toys for. Open-ended toys are great because they encourage imaginative play and foster creativity. Many toys today light-up, make sounds, and have a very clear use and an end-point of play. However, open-ended toys can be used in multiple ways with each play time being a bit different – it’s up to the child’s imagination for how play-time goes! So here I am including some ideas that I have found that we have included on our gift list, as well as some that we already have in our home. I’ve rounded up some favorite top-rated toys in the following categories: Building Toys, Sensory Play, Dramatic Play, and art.
Open-Ended Toys for Toddlers:
Blocks like the Hape Maple Blocks are not just for building towers! I’ve seen them turned into airplanes, people, trees, phones, and more, which makes them perfect open-ended toys for toddlers. Lego Duplo are great for little hands and lock together nicely. Soft blocks like the B. One Two Squeeze Blocks are perfect for younger toddlers who like to throw and kick things around.
Related: More great toys to help with development.
Sensory Open-Ended Toys for Toddlers:
These sensory balls have different textures for toddlers to explore their tactile nature. There are also so many different ways to play with balls. Water Tables like this one from Little Tikes are very popular with toddlers for good reason! We had a water table similar to this one and it provided my toddler endless with endless play. He was constantly testing different ways to play with the water. Sands Alive is fun for older toddlers and preschoolers (it’s rated for 3+), especially when it comes with exciting tools.
Related: Stocking stuffers for toddlers
Dramatic Play Toys for Toddlers:
Dramatic play toys are toys that allow children to pretend-play or take on another role. This play fosters creativity and imagination where the play can have a different “story” every time. Gift ideas that are great for dramatic play include play food, costumes, career role-play kits, combined with things you can find around the house!
Art Gifts for Toddlers:
For toddlers, art is more about the experience and the process rather than the end result. Gifts that provide opportunity for different experiences are great as toddlers practice and play with art. An easel is great because it can be used over and over again and grow with the child. A nice gift to go along with an easel would be a finger-painting kit. The Alex Jr. Finger Paint Party comes with various colors and tools that create different patterns. If you’re looking for an art kit as a gift, kids like the Alex Jr. Tots Art Gallery come with many different materials for toddlers to practice with as they create.
Here we focused on open-ended toys for toddlers. For a wide range of gift ideas for newborns, babies and toddlers, check out these 14 gift guides!