What are the best open-ended toys your kids will grow with?
We’ve been there. Baby number one, we bought all the things. When baby number two came, we bought some of the things. By the time we were ready for baby number three, we started giving things away. What we need are open-ended toys your kids can continue to use as your family grows.
With three children and a lot of experience with toys, I am here to show you the best open-ended toys for kids.
As a mom of three, I’ve had a chance to really see what one-year-olds love AND what the four-year-olds still play with!
The same toy can be used in many different ways for years.
Now that right there is gold. We want our toys to grow WITH our children as they explore new ways to play. You can find an entire list of toys broken down by category here.
Here is my personal checklist when looking to purchase a new toy:
- Exploratory – Encourages exploration. Does this roll? Stack? Attach? How can I make these two pieces fit together? Do they even go together?
- Hands-On -Your preschooler can actually feel the parts, and they move! Sometimes they even have a fantastic texture. This will engage your preschooler’s senses.
- Open-ended – There is no official start or end to the game. Preschoolers manipulate the object(s) in endless amounts of ways. This encourages curiosity, creativity, and problem-solving.
Here is the best list of open-ended forever toys for kids
These toys encourage creativity, imagination, and discovery. They are also exploratory, hands-on, and open-ended.
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The first on our list because this is one of our most used toys.
We use magnetic tiles Every. Single. Day. My youngest likes to transport them from the living room to the refrigerator, and my oldest two create parking garages for their matchbox cars. When we head out of town, these come with us!
My five-year-old received this camera several years ago and hasn’t put it down since. Since then all three of my boys own this camera and take it on hiking trips. We come home and download the new pictures on the computer.
Keep in mind this kid’s camera has games that can be locked in the parental settings. Directions are in the owner’s manual. It also comes in a variety of styles.
Our light table gets used a lot with our magnetic tiles. This big purchase can be put to use in many ways over the years. The design is contemporary with neutral colors, so you can put it in any room of your house.
This wooden block set is a must. Block play encourages creativity, explores balance, tests spatial awareness, and reinforces weight. Sadly, schools do not get time to integrate as much block time as they have in the past. Allow your child to share in the joy of block play!
Hands down, one of our favorite ways to play. The boys play with these every day at home, and we take them to restaurants and on road trips. Plus Plus comes in two sizes, however, I will always prefer the big size.
Did you know you can use these toys indoor, outdoors, and even in the bath? Build highways, neighborhood streets and raceways anywhere your child desires. I am sold, and so are my boys!
You know we love these counting bears! For under three, stay close because they are small in size or save for when your child is older.
Use these counting bears for imaginary play, color sorting, counting, patterns, and much more. These were a necessity in my classroom and continue to be so at home.
These jumbo droppers are the best for our outdoor play! These are perfect for little hands to strengthen small muscles which will help with handwriting, opening snack containers and other self-help skills.
From color sorting to stacking, we cherish these lacing beads. The colors are bright, vibrant, and inviting to use. You will notice these lacing beads used with my preschoolers in a large amount of Breakfast Invitations.
I remember when my husband brought this home for my oldest. At the time he was close to two years of age. Since then, we have used it with all of the boys.
One of my favorite things to do with my five-year-old is to pick out Hot Wheels. We’ve been doing it for years! He checks out the little details and makes sure the car selected is just right. Get started with this 3 pack!
I chose the fire engine because this is on our wish list. We currently have a recycling truck, dump truck, and a helicopter. The quality is excellent and typically makes its way into imaginary play.
Grimm’s Rainbow! The colors are vibrant and the play is open-ended. Check out all the ways you can use these arches separately or together. Bonus? They nest, so they are easy to store.
Here is an alternative Rainbow for a fraction of the cost. I have not personally tried it, but have friends that have and thought it was of great quality.
I love the simple creativity of this dollhouse. It is the perfect height for small children and allows imaginary play. – Imaginary play is another thing that can be cut short once kids reach school age. Allow your children the time to dive deep into imaginary play and discover ways to express their emotions with this dollhouse.
Brio tracks are another winner here. They have come in and out of play over the past 3 years, but never go away.
Every time my boys take out their tracks, something new gets created. I have watched these tracks go from simple setups to endless twists and turns from the kitchen into the living room. These are something I will certainly miss once they hit teenage years.
My oldest received these Mega Blocks on his first birthday. Again, these are something they use daily. We keep our set in the bathtub. The boys build alongside the edges and create magical castles.
This school bus will be a great way to introduce the idea of riding a bus to all my children as they prepare for the next chapter. This school bus will also allow them to replay situations and explore something that they may be nervous about through creative play.
Did you know that practicing balance is part of the vestibular system in the brain and will help your child become a better reader? It’s true!
Our balance bikes are hands down one of the best gifts my boys have ever received.
We use these multiple times per week, and I have watched their balance and coordination soar because of it! They come in many different colors and are perfect for every young kid in your life.
This tool bench is another gem that has been in our home for over three years. The boys have used these tools countless amounts of times both on and off the bench. It never fails that they run for their toolbox any time someone is working on a project.
The Space Center has been in our living room for years! Whether planning a trip to Mars or a walk on the moon, my boys love this rocket. You should hear their conversations as they prepare for blast off!
Per my oldest’s request, this cart MUST be in my trunk every time we go grocery shopping. It is a must-have item.
Not only does it give my children the ability to explore imaginary play, but it also gives them a purpose at the grocery store. My oldest knows what we get, and follows along knowing what goes inside.
We ADORE our ice cream scoop set. Everyone that walks through our door is handed a menu and an ice cream. This set makes the perfect ice breaker for children to begin conversations with new family and friends.
The simplicity of this kitchen set is what officially won me over. No over-the-top lights or buzzers, just a classic kitchen where my kids can cook up a creative snack to offer their grandparents-who apparently will eat ANYTHING.