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Open-ended play is fun with the Monsterland Adventures PortaPlay Activity Center for kids!
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Open-ended play is fun with the Monsterland Adventures PortaPlay Activity Center for kids!

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Children have a natural curiosity about anything and everything around them, filled with questions and wonder all day. As they grow up, start school and are introduced to rules, structured ways of playing and having a pre-defined outcome in mind, playtime can often become restrictive. This is why balancing close-ended activities with open-ended, unstructured or free play is so important.

Activities like playing dress-up, colouring quite literally outside the lines, assembling blocks in any which way, playing in the sand are all examples of open-ended play. No set methods or rules, no right or wrong way to do it, opening up so many more possibilities and ways to channel their inherent curiosity and creativity. 

Open-ended play has a host of benefits for your child’s mental and physical development including:

Reducing the fear of making mistakes because there is no set goal apart from just exploring and having fun! This helps your child become more confident and open to adaptation.

Building independence and leadership skills by having the freedom to play without much instruction or assistance, letting your child take the lead, make decisions and problem-solve.

Encouraging imagination and creativity through the absence of rules and boundaries, which opens up new worlds during playtime.

Facilitating a calm and focussed mindset because when left to play on their own without any pressure, children are able to better process emotions, improve their focus and stay in the moment.

Improving hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and vocabulary by lifting, grabbing, pushing and pulling toys and objects, naming what they see and learning new words as they go.

Which brings us to how you can encourage more open-ended play! While simple objects and make-believe are great ways to begin, toys can also be designed in ways to encourage more open-ended play. Like our Monsterland Adventures PortaPlay Activity Center for babies and toddlers which comes with colourful, whimsical toys. Created as a stage-based activity centre or exersaucer from the ages of 5 months to 5 years, there is no right or wrong way to play with these toys. They’re perfect for more open-ended play while safely standing in the activity center. In fact, most others jumpers and bouncers are not designed with neutral toys and it’s one of the many things we kept in mind while designing this newest PortaPlay! 

The Monsterland Adventures PortaPlay Activity Center has a variety of toys and there are some in particular we think are great for open-ended play. In stage one (5 to 8 months), the Pow Wow toy encourages your baby to bang on the three buttons, generating amusing monster sounds or musical tones depending on the mode. It’s all about using the hands to produce a fun sound, teaching cause and effect and building motor skills. There’s also Creepers that helps with dexterity, as the discs can slide up and down, any way your baby pleases!

In stage two (8 to 12 months), the PowWow becomes more about problem-solving, and figuring out which lit-up button made the sound, and which didn’t. Either way, the “yay” and “oh oh” helps your child with trial and error, with no external instructions or rules. The Pushey Pulley is meant to be tugged and pulled in all directions, honing motor skills and creating the challenge of which cloth to pull so the monster gets sucked in! And Bubbles has a calming effect on your child’s mind as each one can be poked in any order for great tactile stimulation.

Does your child enjoy open-ended play? What are some activities that have worked well? And if you have the PortaPlay Monsterland Adventures Activity Center, we’d love to hear how the toys are helping with this! Let us know in the comments below!