What is Open Ended Play?

Open Ended Play Leads to Success for Children

What is open ended play and why does it matter? Open ended play is any activity that allows children to create unlimited scenarios on their own. If you give a child a stick or a cardboard box, they can create a variety of activities on their own that allow them to express themselves.

What are some resources for open ended play? A variety of art supplies could be used, boxes, sticks, rocks, sand, water, anything that doesn’t have to be used in a prescribed way such as a toy with one certain purpose. It could be most anything. All types of play are important for the child’s development, but open ended play offers some very important benefits.

Open ended play fosters creativity. With music and art no longer being seen as academic in schools, and the fast paced curriculum taught in schools, open ended play is sadly becoming a thing of the past. This is detrimental to children’s development.

Open Ended Play Leads to Success for Children

Think about the teacher who makes all of the children create art that looks just the same. Are the children learning from that project? They are learning the teacher doesn’t think they are talented or smart. Open ended play builds self-esteem and problem solving skills in children as well as allows them to share their feelings, and sometimes even provides them a way to ask for help. Children need to be creative. Self-expression helps children cope with their feelings and a tuned in teacher can learn about what the child is thinking and feeling through it.

Open Ended Play Leads to Success for Children
Creativity fosters mental growth in children by giving them the chance to try out new ideas and solve problems. Open ended activities celebrate uniqueness and diversity in each child and helps us focus on each child as an individual. Using their imagination is important for children to allow them to invent, grow, take chances, experiment, make mistakes in a safe environment and have fun. It develops life skills, innovation, and gives children a sense of achievement. Developmentally inappropriate practice at an early age such as flash cards and drills is even linked to mental illnesses. I want my children to have the very best chance for success and I know that comes from lots and lots of PLAY!

Creativity is one of the top factors in career success. Employers see it as an employable benefit. Everyone has the ability to be creative. It’s important we give children the opportunity to express themselves and be creative in every day play. So throw out some open ended supplies and let your children teach you today!




  1. Alana says:

    LOVE this! Open-ended play is so incredibly important!!!

  2. Amy says:

    Great post! If they can’t get it in school, we can most definitely make it happen at home!

  3. Great post! Thanks for linking it up at the Thoughtful Spot! Hope you join us tomorrow with more of your creative ideas.

  4. Mum of One says:

    Some great advice here. Thanks so much for sharing with the #pinitparty. Have pinned 🙂

  5. I never sat in a formal classroom until college, and I’m so grateful for it now. And my intent is that MY (future) children will never be stuck in a formal classroom until college (if that’s what they want to do), either.

    I keep reading from people about how frustrated their children are at school, how much time they spend sitting at a desk, and how little things they actually get the chance to enjoy.

    Our society’s ambition has come at the cost of our children’s passion and creativity. To me, that’s unacceptable.

  6. Jamie says:

    Your blog is so cute! Love the gardening posts. They are really a help for other Okie gardeners.

  7. We are practicing this at Salt Meadow Academy! I’ve started posting about our work with “loose parts”.

  8. Love this post! I like how you’ve given reasons for it’s benefit! There’s been a push for more open-ended play in some Canadian schools. Let’s hope it survives!!! Personally, I’m a firm believer in open-ended play and encourage it with my daughter 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *