Super fun Reggio inspired and open-ended activities
So, you’re implementing Reggio at home but what kind of activities should your child do, or what toys can they play with? Very good question.
If you are like me you may have boxes overflowing of children’s toys. I am not a preschool so I can’t afford to get all natural beautiful equipment a Reggio inspired school might have. And I bet for birthdays and presents your child will/has probably received a variety of ‘non Reggio’ toys. And that is totally fine we have to work with what we got.
Perhaps when your child is playing you can see which toys lend themselves to deeper play and more open-ended play. If you have the opportunity to buy or ask for presents I would personally opt for open ended toys. ‘Close-ended’ toys to me would fall in the same discussion and topic as process art vs crafts.
Open ended toys and Reggio
Why would I recommend open-ended toys? Because if we are Reggio Inspired, we have thought about our Image of child and we know we want our children to develop critical thinking, problem solving and creative skills. Open ended toys provide those exact opportunities.
What is an open-ended toy anyways?
Well an open ended toy is one that can be played in a variety of ways, there is no specific way to play with it. A good example of an open ended toy is Lego.
Lego can be configured in a million different ways and however your child wishes to use them. It can also be a good problem solving toy because using the bits of Lego your child will have to figure out how to do it.
Blocks are a great open ended toy as they can also be used in a variety of ways and to make anything your child wants. One can add little people, mini plastic animals or dinosaurs to the block play to mix it up and keep it interesting. In my post about documenting at home you can see how my 3 year old used blocks to build a tower and eventually a train track.
Playdough or play-doh is a great open ended activity. You can add so many different things to it to change up the play. Children love playdough and will often gravitate to it. 0
What can you put out with play dough?
- plastic knife
- muffin tin
- loose parts
- rolling pin
- Watercolour paints
- What else does your child like to put with playdough?
Homemade play dough is easy and cheap and you can make so many variations! Check out my super fun Galaxy inspired dough!
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Loose parts is a hot topic with regards to Reggio inspired environments. Why? Because they are kind of the ultimate open ended ‘toy’ or activity for kids. The best part about loose parts is that they can be made of anything. You can start a collection of loose parts today! They can be natural items you find outside such as acorns, pebbles, sticks or anti-waste such as bottle tops and buttons and beads.
If your child is not familiar to playing with loose parts or in such an open ended way you might have to sit with them and support them by asking. “What can you make with these?” “How can you arrange these?” “Do these shapes (e.g. pebbles) remind you of anything?”
Children also love loose parts as it is not permanent so they feel safe to change designs and ‘make mistakes’. There are no mistakes when working with loose parts, it is fun and creative. Children also love to draw on whiteboards or chalkboards as it is not permanent.
The best gift my 3 year old ever got…
A box of Buttons. Yes that’s right when she was about 18months/2years her grandmother brought out a box of random buttons she had collected over the years. I mean if your grandma doesn’t have a box of random buttons, is she even your grandma? Of course with supervision she (toddler not grandma) played with the buttons looking at all the different sizes, shapes, colours.
She still loves playing with those buttons today and sometimes I add a sorting tray with it and if she wants till sort them out according to colour or shape. Sorting and categorizing as you know are excellent pre-mathematical skills, yay!
As you can see open-ended toys encourage creativity and can be used an variety of ways.
Some other examples, there are many more and what you choose will also depend on your child’s age and fine motor capabilities.
- Wooden rainbow (This is high on my Wishlist!)
- Interlocking discs
- Building planks
There are loads of options out there and hopefully in your price range if you are looking to buy something. Buy what you can afford it doesn’t all have to be super fancy and wooden, if it is a plastic toy your child will survive.
Use what you have at home
One of the things I do love about Reggio is that there are no prescribed specific toys. You can get what you can afford, make your own, use nature or what you have at home. I am sure we are all familiar with children raiding the Tupperware cupboard instead of playing with their fancy new toy. Sensory play is also open ended and very important for young children. And there are many sensory activities you can make using what you have at home.
Sensory play ideas
- Baking soda dough
- Painting on ice
- Splatter smash painting
- Lego freeze
- Birthday cake cloud dough
- Fun with jelly
Let’s get going
Now that you know more about what might be considered a “Reggio” toy or activity you are ready to start exploring all the wonderfulness of open ended play! I hope you can also see how much learning happens through open-ended toys and activities, so don’t panic your child is learning a lot. The best part is they are having such fun that they don’t even realize how much they are learning.