The Best Toys Are the Toys That Do Nothing: Choose Open-Ended Toys!
A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) compared traditional toys to electronic toys. The report concludes that traditional toys result in better child-caregiver interactions. These interactions provide multiple communication-learning opportunities.
Children learn by doing. Open ended toys do not have batteries or an on/off button. If the toy talks, moves, or sings your child is not doing the doing; the toy is doing. Toys cannot teach children communication, people do. Toys are simply tools to engage children in an activity. “The less a toy does, the more the child can do with it. The more a child can do with it, the more opportunities for interaction it allows.” (ASHA Leader, 2019.)
That being said, open ended toys are toys that your child can move and manipulate. They have to be creative and use their imagination while playing with them.
My favorite open-ended toys are Legos, magna tiles, blocks, toy figurines (my kids really love Peppa Pig + Avenger + PJ mask figurines), toy animals, dinosaurs, play kitchen, & dress up clothes. While using these toys children have to make their own words and sounds that go with the toys and they can be used for many different purposes. Play is up to the child’s mood and creative interpretation.
Sometimes toys aren’t even found in stores. Recycled materials, boxes and toilet paper rolls etc., become some of the most fun toys for little ones.
Open ended toys grow with your child and they can use them at many different ages. My children have had the same types of toys since they were 1-year-old! Of course, our collection has grown and many toys were replaced, but they are good old fashion toys and my kids do not tire of them.
Open ended toys have endless possibilities for play. Open ended toys develop social skills, problem-solving skills, language skills, communication skills, cognitive ability, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, self-regulation, creativity and more. They also give children opportunities to practice life skills and social skills. Blocks, Legos, and magna tiles are also great for building fine motor and spatial awareness skills.
I like to keep my toys in clear plastic bins and offer my kids one type of toy at a time. That way, they don’t have that toy all the time and they are more excited to play with what is given and they stay engaged with it longer. When they are finished with it, it goes back in the clear bin which goes back in my toy closet and the next bin of toys can come out.
ASHA Leader. The Best Toys for SLP’s Are the Toys That DO Nothing. Ferjencik, Emily. ASHA Wire. May 12, 2019. https://leader.pubs.asha.org/do/10.1044/the-best-toys-for-slps-are-the-toys-that-do-nothing/full/