I don't know about you but too often during the past 12 months I've found myself, much to my disgust, giving in to the kids and their constant request for 'more screen time'. TV'S, ipads, Nintendo Switches, you name it, they want it. And as much as I hate to admit it, they normally get it. Why? Because honestly, it shuts them up. Am I a bad mum?... probably!
But there is a solution and you can bet your bottom dollar, it's worth a read. Does the term open-ended toys ring a bell? If it doesn't you may as well crawl back to the rock you've been living under, because I'm about to name our top 5 toys that are guaranteed to keep those screen-obsessed, square-eyed rugrats of yours occupied long enough for you to enjoy a hot drink, or maybe 10!
First though, let's start with; what ARE open-ended toys? Simply put, an open-ended toy can be played in multiple and varied ways. They are powered by your kids' imagination and because of that, the possibilities are endless.
Ditch the screens and check these out instead.
Coming in at first place...
#1 Whatsie, DUH!!
#1 Whatsie, DUH!!
I remember when I was a kid (back in the olden days as my kids would say), my cousins and I used to build forts with blankets and cushions from my aunties' couch. The ultimate hideout, smack bang in the middle of the living room. But now, if my kids even attempted to pull apart my 4k Plush Sofa, I'd definitely be throwing some profanities their way. This is why I swear by Whatsie. 6 versatile pieces your kids can easily maneuver to make whatever their precious little hearts desire. From pirate ships to reading nooks, this play couch is worth its weight in gold!
If you haven't already got this on top of your wish list, you're missing out big time. Trust me, your kids will love it. Shop the Whatsie here.
Good-old-fashioned blocks. There's a reason they've been around for so long. Besides the fact that they’re really, really fun to play with, there are also many developmental benefits gained from block play. They encourage children to build, explore, create, engage, troubleshoot, and all the while, practicing both their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Building blocks are timeless and a must-have for every home.
You're spoilt for choice with so many beautifully made blocks on the market, but my advice to you; when choosing, buy generously. Running out of blocks mid-build is frustrating, to say the least.
Our faves are the Montessori inspired stepped tower blocks by Howe & Zo.
#3 Loose Parts
It absolutely amazes me how children come up with these "ideas". How they can manipulate materials to create anything they want. It sparks investigation, exploration and by way of their imagination, something so simple can become something quite extraordinary.
Our friends at Totli have an amazing range of loose parts and our pick of the bunch is the leaves playset. I mean, just look at those little faces.
#4 Magnetic Tiles
These are, no joke, used every single day in my house. Once we’d invested in the first set, it wasn’t long before we were all hooked and bought an additional set. The different shapes come in a variety of beautiful colours and are the perfect size for hands-on learning. The magic of magnets allows us to connect the tiles to build some epic 3D structures. But aside from this, I’ve seen magnetic tiles used in ways that will blow your mind. Creativity at its finest.
There are so many magnetic tile options to choose from but I do recommend looking for a brand that is strong and durable. We love our set from Connetix, both the design AND the quality.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking... “but it’s so messy!” Sure, it can be but it can also be a tonne of fun. Flatten it, poke it, roll it, cut it, mould it, anything is possible with playdough.
It’s an unstructured, open-ended, sensory learning experience and to me, that’s worth the clean-up! And, if you haven’t got one already, consider adding a playdough mat or board to your accessories, they are totally worth it!
We love the choices available at Good Dough Co, especially the ‘nature burst’ play dough. The flower petals combined with lavender and patchouli oil is a beautiful touch.
Remember guys, there is no right or wrong way to play with either one of these suggested toys. In fact, if you give the same toy to 5 different kids, they'll find 5 different ways to play with it. Sorry Cocomelon, you just can't compete with that!