Open-ended play at home

As we continue to live our lives in lockdown, keeping children entertained and occupied can be challenging! The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all, and at Tops we’ve been busy putting together some great resources for you at home to take a look at. Today, we’re looking at open-ended play. Open-ended play is play with no pre-determined limitations or set outcomes. Children have the opportunity and time to develop their own ideas, honing in on the “curiosity approach”.

All areas of learning are supported in open-ended play by using simple materials, most of which you probably have in your home already, meaning there’s no need to pop out to the shops.

Allow children to explore ideas, indoors or outdoors! If you don’t have a garden, why not head to the beach or a local park, making sure you are able to social distance and adhere to government guidelines. You can offer empty containers, shoe boxes, jar lids, and even kitchen pots and pans. Children will discover new sounds and textures and they tap, roll, and drop play items. Why not add a few pieces of materials and see how they react?

Block Play

An individual block can become an animal or a storybook character. In the early stages, children may start by carrying blocks around, making piles, or lining them up.

Den Building

An all-time favourite of young children, den building allows them to move chairs, and other lightweight furniture in order to form an enclosure. Add a large cloth or duvet to help create a cosy environment! Your little one might enjoy just sitting in the den taking in their surroundings, or be joined with a toy, teddy or book for company.

Outdoor time

Outdoor time is so important for children, offering natural sensory stimulation including sunlight, mud, plants, and fresh air. Even the smallest outdoor space can become a creative area. With twigs, dirt and pebbles, a child can become engrossed in creating and building. A child’s imagination is limitless! Seashells, conkers, and stones can all be painted to enhance the fun.

Mud Kitchen

Even if you don’t have a mud kitchen, all you really need is a working surface, dirt or soil, and water! You can find this outside in woodland areas and store them in a container. A few old kitchen dishes including pots, pans, spoons and a ladle will encourage children to mix, bake, cook and serve! Your little ones will want to return the next day and continue their hard work.

Water Play

With the recent beautiful weather, there’s no doubt that now is a fantastic time to enjoy some water play. Wet, messy, educational, and most importantly fun. Give your children a container of water, and let them explore by splashing with spoons, their hands, and buckets. Supply them with some objects that will float and see how they react. As with all water play with children, these activities need close supervision; any container filled with water is a drowning hazard.

Open-ended play is an essential component of a happy childhood, and it is crucial that we allow children to explore, giving daily opportunities in a relaxed and safe environment. Children will discover the world around them, develop physically and intellectually, all whilst gaining confidence.

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