When we became first time parents almost two years ago, I definitely had an extensive list of must haves. Every other week, I would have a chat with my oldest sister, (who pretty much has the same lifestyle values as me), to go over what is a MUST MUST, and what I can do without in order to stay within budget.
My best friend encouraged me to curate a registry so that those who love us, and would want to bless us would know exactly what we would like. I mean that made perfect sense. I had always done that for big life events like birthdays and graduations, and even our wedding …. i just don’t know why it didn’t occur to me for our baby.
Now, you may be aware of my strong desire to stay away from toxins in every aspect of our lives, one purchase at a time, and as best as i can…. so it was so good and therapeutic for me to come up with this list. What we did NOT do, is buy toys. At the time, I was mostly familiar with themed toys, characters, and lots of plastic that I just did not want for my family.
As she grew older, and I sought to occupy here in a way that is beneficial to her development, I started to look into toys. Now, if we are being honest with ourselves, a lot of toys on the mainstream toy market are ‘one and done’ toys.
What are ‘one and done’ toys?
Toys that ‘entertain’ your kids – they talk to your to kids, asks questions, sing songs to, full of colorful plastic with movie or character themes. Operative phrase here is ‘to your kids’. Your kids are always on the receiving end. They do not challenge kids in any way through creative play, critical thinking and imagination. I mean how much can sponge bob possibly teach our kids? 🙂
What are Open-Ended Toys?
These are made with sustainable materials, actually challenge your child’s thinking capacity, as well as competence, and increases their ability to focus. That is something one and done toys are unfortunately not able to do for children; and as parents we all know that focus is such a critical factor in child development.
Open-ended toys encourage communication, exploration, creativity, visual discrimination, and problem solving skills for a wide age range. Wide age range is very important to me, because I know I do not want to spend the rest of my life buying different toys at every stage in my kids’ lives. With open ended toys, they are playing with the same things in different ways. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving.
It’s also important to note that they are mostly not gender-based, and therefore… again- money-saving 🙂
Let’s take the example of open ended toys:
MAGNATILES: one of our favorites!
Magnatiles have an age range of 3-99. So you can bet my Husband and I are thoroughly enjoying it over here! haha! One thing I have to say is, I personally stalk a product and do as much research as I am able to, before investing in or sharing it as a gift option for our family.
I love magnatiles because of its focus on STEM, and therefore challenges the mental capacity of children. As a product of memory-based learning: memorize answers to questions, I want to be able to give my kids the opportunity of application-based learning – even through play.
So, my focus when looking into play materials/toys for my children is always “how much value can we get from this toy *given this price*
Let’s take an example of open-ended toys:
Puzzles: Kids learn problem solving, and also build communication skills with puzzles. Say we have a farm-animal puzzle – “This is a dog. Now let’s fit the dog in its hole. Great job! What sound does the dog make? What color is this dog? Great! Okay, we will name the *black* (color identification) dog BINGO! (creativity). AND THEN, we can link it to a rhyme – “There was a farmer who had a dog and BINGO was his name oh…. B-I-N-G-O”
See where we are going with this? Great! 🙂
I would like to share a few open-ended toys you can consider buying for your kids, or sharing as a gift option with your family and friends:
- Magnatiles (there is also a budget friendly option here). The one common con I have read with Picasso is that the tiles aren’t that durable. *You can also pre-order Magnatiles via my shop here.
- Play Kitchen – we got our older child this for her first birthday. *always have to find strategic times to gift quality right? :))
- Wooden blocks ( I am saving my little coins for these tegu magnetic blocks, but Melissa and Doug has so many affordable options)
- Cleaning Set by Melissa and Doug (hey, it doesn’t hurt to start learning how to clean early :))
- Puzzles – we have and love Djeco puzzles, but there are tons of wooden puzzles on the market 🙂
- Doll House
- Tea Set – we have this, but again, tons on the market.
- Kinetic Sand – Kinetic sand is so fun, and doesn’t make as much of a mess as regular sand. Mind you, I did not say it doesn’t make a mess at all, as younger kids are very likely to drop some.
- Play food – We have this wooden food play set because I know for sure my kids will shove these in their mouth and I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t plastic they were gnawing on. Also wood is a great teething toy so hey!
- Farm animals – We do not have this but my older baby is very much into animals now and I am considering getting it for her. I am considering this German brand
As you can see, this is not a never-ending list of toys; and that is exactly what I love about open ended toys. A few toys go a very very long way!
I will update this list with our favorites as and when we receive them.
I hope this inspires you to take a more critical look at how and what you spend your money on when it comes to children. Please let me know if you have any questions, I am happy to answer!
Thank you so much for reading 🙂
In Love and Health,