15 Open-Ended Toys for Pretend Play
Play is the most important work of early childhood. Children begin to understand the world around them through movement and play. As parents and caregivers, we must provide play environments that allow children to discover the world at their own pace.
Children normally start the first stages of dramatic imaginative play around the age of three. This is when children begin to try on all of the activities and roles that they see going on around them. By pretending to be a mommy, doctor, teacher, or cook they begin to assimilate the world as they experience it. They play through each new experience, each new developmental step over and over again.
There are lots of natural materials for pretend play that you can find for free. To learn more about them click on the link. Below you will find 15 open-ended toys for imaginative play that will help your children discover their own creativity and develop their imagination.
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Open-Ended Toys for Pretend Play
Click on the title of each toy to learn more about it.
15 Open-Ended Toys for Pretend Play
Blocks are one of the best items in the world for pretend play. Their imagination will run wild creating unique masterpieces with the variety of shapes, each the perfect size for children to handle.
Building blocks are foundational for children’s play and promote motor, language, and social skills, plus creativity, and color & shape perception. They never get old, grow with your children, can be used in conjunction with many other toys, and will inspire your child’s creativity.
If you would rather make your own check out The Best DIY Blocks for Kids.
Little hands will be itching to start building when they see these oversized blocks. They will inspire hours of pretend play and fit together in a nearly infinite number of configurations.
Create a world of tunnels and arches with this 10-piece wooden set. Curved, hardwood blocks in three different widths and diameters for use as a fun, building manipulative or as “tunnels” for use with other small toys. For use both in the classroom or at home.
This set includes a total of 30 blocks in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors using certified non-toxic, water-based stains. These blocks can be combined with other building blocks sets for larger construction projects.
An open-ended, multi-use toy that children will discover endless uses for. This toy nesting house inspires creativity. The block pieces can be used in imaginative play and more. It can be used as a Puzzle, a pretend-play house for dolls and figures, or the Pieces can be used as building blocks.
6. Playstands and Silkscapes
Play stands are absolutely perfect for pretend play. Young children can spend hours playing underneath them. They also make a magical hideaway or book nook and can be used both indoors and outdoors. I have provided affiliate links to two different styles below.
- Play stand with shelf (unfinished)
- Arch for play stand
- Play clips
- Camden Rose Waldorf Cherry Playstand Playroom Set w/Vibrant Rainbow Silk Canopy
Play silks and silk scapes are wonderful for pretend play especially when used in combination with oversized blocks and play stands. They are most often draped over play stands, chairs, headboards, etc. to create all manner of play space. They also create a beautiful hideaway for young children and can be used for dress-up play.
This sturdy, 3-story dollhouse is perfect for all kinds of accessories and endless imaginative play. It’s plain yet beautiful design allows children to use their imaginations while playing. Features include an open design for easy access, stairs from the second to third floor, and a built-in handle in the roof for easy carrying.
Children will spend hours creating fun scenarios for these poseable wooden dollhouse figures. They are made for the dollhouse above but can also be used with blocks, play stands, or any other way your child imagines. Set includes a mother and father doll, grandmother and grandfather doll, and two child dolls (one boy and one girl).
Doll play is the perfect way for young boys and girls to work out whatever they are dealing with in their lives via pretend play. Dolls are used to try on all of the activities and roles that they see going on around them. They can play through each new experience and are very helpful for children dealing with stress, trauma and/or loss.
Children of all ages will imagine so many fun ways to use these sweet little Rainbow Friends because they are a natural addition to almost any of the toys already in your toy box. Designed for creative use in anyway children see fit, they can be used with building blocks, for counting, as “people” in any type of pretend world your children create… this list goes on!
Want to make your own rainbow peg dolls? Learn how by clicking on the link.
Wooden cars are the perfect vehicles for pretend play. Made in Vermont by a well-respected, established toy company, these cars are reminiscent of many parents’ childhood toys. They are the perfect size for little hands, easy to roll and have a design that requires more imagination than simply reacting to the toy’s preconceived design.
11. Toy Animals
Toy animals are perfect for pretend play. They can be played with by themselves, outside, in sandboxes, and with blocks and doll houses. Below I have provided links to several different kinds.
- Plan Toy Farm Animal Set
- Big Bucket of Farm Animals
- Big Bucket of Ocean, Dinosaur, Safari, and Farm Animals
- Under The Sea Plastic Sea Life Creatures
- Woodland Forest Toy Animal Figures
12. Wooden Barn
The Barn includes removable ladder, a grain sack, 2 hay bales, 3 adjustable fences and a tool set. The hay can be hoisted into the barn by a pulley and pallet. Playtime Ideas: Children can role play various characters such as farmer or gardener and tell stories as per their imagination. While playing, parents can ask children questions helping to develop language skill and creativity.
These five adorable little wooden bowls are a must-have for every child’s toy box. They can be nested together, stacked in a variety of ways, filled with little objects or used imaginatively as play dishes and cups… the uses are as varied as a child’s imagination! Young children will explore concepts of size, comparison and sequencing, as well as exercise their fine motor skills, reasoning/problem solving, and hand-eye coordination.
This 13 piece porcelain set includes 4 cups, 4 saucers, a teapot with a lid, a sugar bowl with a lid, and a creamer. Each cup is a different color, as well as the cream and sugar and the teapot. It can even be used with real liquids!
Turning knobs, a see-through oven door, and bright colors will be a big hit with your child and encourage hours of creative play!
Children begin to understand the world around them through movement and play. They need pretend play materials that are open-ended enough to meet their needs with each new imagining.
These 15 open-ended toys for pretend play provides the perfect solution for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary school-aged kids.
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!
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