Our playroom is definitely the heart of our home, a lot of hours are spent in here, I love capturing my little ones in the midst of play, I am always in complete awe watching them, it really is pure joy.
I remember scrolling aimlessly on Instagram one night and falling down the rabbit hole of wooden toys, all those beautiful colours, the rainbows, the blocks, to be completely honest it was the aesthetics that pulled me in first.
I not long had my second baby and my daughter was 2.5 years old at the time, we have always had a designated playroom, a lot of the toys we owned were passed down from relatives, we ended up with so much, like oodles amounts of flashy, noisy plastic toys.
I'm not quite sure how we accumulated so much stuff in such a short amount of time, it was pretty crazy! It was always a chore to sort through, things broke frequently, it was a nightmare to keep tidy and it overwhelmed me. They also didn't seem to hold Milly's attention for long.
Milly has always had a wonderful imagination, and this was the main reason open-ended toys appealed to me and in some way I felt these toys were made just for her.
I took the plunge and bought our first natural wooden rainbow and some peg dolls and watched the magic unfold.
I let her take the lead, I didn't show her any specific way on how to play with them and to be honest I wasn't really sure how.
Watching her play and create her own little play scenes over the next couple of weeks is what made my decision an easy one, over 12 months I culled almost every toy we owned and started slowly replacing them with beautifully handcrafted, more sustainable wooden toys and the older my children have gotten the more incredible these open-ended toys have become, Milly is now 7, Thomas 5 and my youngest Flynn is 17 months old.
The older two are very much into small world play at the moment, their builds are so epic their imaginations have absolutely soared, as has mine, they have brought out my inner-child and I love nothing more than to get in there and build and create with them.
I love setting up play scenes or ITP (invitations to play) I only set up a few items just to inspire and then they generally make it their own.
I look at play completely different now.
Open ended toys not only let the child take the lead but also have no instructions, no buttons, lights, distractions, no agenda.
Your child decides how they would like to play with the toy, that's the beauty of it, no two children will play with them in the same way, there are no rules.
The one thing I love most about these toys is the longevity, they will be well played with, well loved and passed down through generations, I will definitely be holding on to them for my kids to maybe one day pass down to their own.
Here are some of our open-ended favourites:
Let's start with the good old wooden blocks. The staple of any playroom in my opinion.
The most basic of open-ended toy but sparks that imagination and can be used in multiple ways, not to mention great for fine motor and hand/ eye coordination.
As your child grows and begins building more complex builds then you can add in some more shapes, more curated sets. I think starting with a simple block set is a great starting point, especially for those with younger children 3+.
We also love our Building boards, we use ours for roads, bridges, ball-runs, castles. We have plenty of loose partssuch as rings, balls, mandala, peg dolls, stacking cups/bowls incorporated into our play.
Rainbow stackers is another of our favourite and staple item we have in our playroom. We get so much inspiration on my socials for ways to use our rainbows, ball-runs being just one of them, which are so much fun and incredibly addictive.
Since making the switch to more sustainable wooden toys, I definitely buy more consciously, not just for my own children but for others, a lot of thought goes into what I buy, I have found the older my kids have gotten the more I have learned their likes, which makes buying for them so much easier.