What is open ended play?
“Play is the highest form of research” said Albert Einstein.There are absolutely no rules, no right or wrong way to do things.Open ended play encourages the child to play without any restrictions. There are no rules, no right or wrong way to play Click To Tweet
It could be playing with bits of paper, blocks, paint or play dough. If you give the same material to a group of children, each child may play in a different way, each child may make something different.
I love open ended play. Not only is it easy to set up but the benefits of open ended play are huge. When you give a versatile material like play dough to kids, the options are endless. I love play dough and so do my children.
I set up a craft basket with some colored play dough, tooth pick and sequins. This got transformed in to a beautiful clown puppet.
Benefits of open ended play
- Enhances creativity
- Makes the child more confident
- Great for starting conversation with the child
- Provides opportunities for pretend play
- Works very well in a group setting too. The child gets to see the various outcomes that are possible and learns to appreciate the work done by other children.
While there are lot of ways to set up an open ended play station for kids, the one medium that I frequently use at home is play dough.
The reason I love play dough
- Play dough can transform into a flower, pot, clown or anything the child wants or imagines. It is suitable for all ages of children
- As with any open ended activity, there is no right or wrong way to use play dough
- It combines beautifully with other materials like beads, sequins, googly eyes. Each time you set up an activity involving play dough, change the accessory materials and everytime the child thinks of making something different.
- Rolling, shaping, squishing play dough is a form of exercise for the little hands and fingers and helps improve motor skills in children.
- Play dough creations are great conversation starters
Start a conversation with your child
Here are some questions parents can ask the kids when working with play dough
- We have red, yellow and green colored dough. What do you think you can make with this?
- Can we try mixing red and blue?
- Can we use blue for the boy’s shirt?
- Wow!Did you make a cup? Do you want to make a saucer too?
- Do you want to use sequins or beads to decorate?
- What can we name your kitten?
- Is that a dinosaur? Do you remember the movie jurassic park?
These are some sample questions. Depending on the age of the child, parents can ask appropriate questions.Open ended play is a great conversation starter. It can help even the quiet kids open up Click To Tweet
Craft baskets are a huge hit at home. For this craft, I put in play dough, small dowel and some sequins
Play dough and fine motor skills
Playing with Play dough helps build fine motor skills in children. All the rolling, pulling, pressing help build muscle strength in children. If you are interested in reading about activities that enhance fine motor skills in children, see thisPlaying with play dough improves the fine motor skills in children Click To Tweet
Your turn now,
What is your favorite open ended play material?
What other benefits of open ended play can you think of?
Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.