Need to keep other kiddos busy while you are homeschooling another one? Here’s a list of the best open ended toys for homeschoolers.
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So What is an Open Ended Toy?
And why is that helpful for a homeschool mom? An open ended toy is one that can be played with in different ways every time you play with it. The possibilities in what you can create are endless. It is also one that is mostly dependent on the child to create with instead of relying on the toy itself to give the entertainment. The toy itself isn’t the end all be all, how the kid uses it is. This is so important for the homeschool mom because you want toys that can be played with for longer periods of time while you homeschool other children. And you want toys that help promote creativity, imagination and thinking skills so your child is using that little brain of theirs.
This may sound weird, but I just love being intentional with the toys in our home. When I was going through hard pregnancies and postpartum, the toys in my home really helped to keep the kids occupied for long periods of time. I know toys can really start to get on a moms nerves because of the excessive amount that there are in our society. And I know they can easily turn your home into an utter catastrophe, but I really think there is a way to go about toys that is purposeful and can bring joy and delight into your home instead of a burden.
Tips for Using the “Best Open Ended Toys for Homeschoolers”
Because I have spent a lot of time researching and being intentional with the toys in our home, I wanted to give you a few tips for how to go about being more purposeful with toys in your house.
- Be more picky with what toys you have in your home. Or in other words, take a more minimalist or intentional approach. Just get 1-10 different types of toys (this will vary for each mom based on size of house and what she can handle) and make sure they are open ended and promote independence, creativity and imagination.
- Organize those 1-10 different types of toys and put them in to boxes or containers. My husband made some wooden boxes and I labeled the outside of each one with the name of the specific type of toy inside.
- Find a cabinet or specific place to put all those boxes in (preferably behind doors for a more clutter free approach) and just get one box out at a time.
- When our kids were much younger (like baby/toddler), we did have a box labeled “Miscellaneous Toys” or “Soft Toys” for all those random toys that don’t seem to have a place. If you have a baby or toddler, you know exactly the type of toys that I’m talking about.
The 10 Best Open Ended Toys for Homeschoolers
The following toys are ones that our family has used for years and have been tried and true in our home. We use these for our younger kids to play with while the older is doing school and I also let each kid pick out one of these to play with during their rest time in the afternoon. Our kids love all of these and I do too. So without further ado, here are what our family thinks are the best open ended toys that promote independence.
1. Duplo or Lego
When the kids were preschoolers, they loved Duplo. They can be created differently every time the kids play with them. And if your kids are too little for Lego, this is a great alternative. Now that the kids are getting into the Lego age, those have been great as well. But they do still play with the Duplo.
2. Wooden Train Set
We love wooden toys. I wish we had more, but the wooden train set has been a staple in our home for a long time. This one is so great because the kids can spend hours creating different train tracks. Plus, the more you get, the bigger the train set can get. We also have little trees and pieces that help add scenery, which means there are so many imaginative possibilities when playing. My husband has enjoyed helping the kids create an awesome train set. Then he lets them play with it for the rest of the day.
3. Magna Tiles
I really wasn’t expecting much with this toy when I first head about it. Other moms raved about it, but I didn’t think that some magnet tiles would keep my kids attention for very long. I was wrong. In fact, the kids asked for even more this past Christmas. They seriously play with them almost every single day. I am amazed and so thankful. They are on the more expensive end, but after seeing how engaged my children are with them, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy these if I needed to. I think it is worth it to buy less toys and have them be ones that they kids spend lots of time on. If the kids hadn’t gotten them from relatives, we would have bought them from the kids ourselves.
4. Marble Run
This toy is obviously not for little kids because of the choking hazard with the marbles, but for children who are past the age of sticking things in their mouths, this is a good one. They can create the run different every time and they just love seeing the marbles go through their creations. I love toys that you can keep buying more of and add to their collection and this is one of those.
All of my kids love playing with cars. We just have one of those tall car play sets and a box of cars. That will keep my kids entertained for a while. I have a big box labeled “Cars” and get it down from time to time. They also love using the cars to play with the other toys. Like creating a town with Magna Tiles and using the cars to drive around it.
6. Grocery and Kitchen Toys
We have had kitchen and grocery toys for a very long time. They played with these a ton when they were younger and still get them out on a regular basis. I love that it promotes using their imagination. One day they play grocery store, the next restaurant, the next birthday party. The possibilities are endless. And I love that.
7. Play Clothes
Speaking of imagination, this is another one that has been so much fun in our home. We have slowly collected play clothes over the years and now have a decent amount. This keeps their attention because they can make up a whole world while playing with their play clothes on.
8. Felt Pieces
I had my husband create a felt board a few years back and it has been so much fun. When my kids were younger, we put it in the playroom at kid level and had a bunch of different felt pieces (animals, letters, numbers, food, etc.) and they can come up with different imaginations for how to play with them. This can also be used as a learning tool for school to teach math or to create stories. Fun and educational is always a win.
9. Lauri Toys
I really like Lauri toys for the preschool years, so if you have a preschooler, this is a great educational resource as well as a toy. We have bought many different Lauri Toys sets and combined them all into one box. My kids still play with these from time to time even though they are geared towards littler ones.
10. Crawl and Climb Play Set
This is another one where I just would not think that the kiddos would interested in this. Once again, I was wrong. They got these for a Christmas gift when they were babies and still play with them almost everyday and they are 7, 5 and 4. Wow! They make obstacle courses and forts and they use them as tables for a picnic. They are pricey, but you could slowly collect one or two at a time over the years. These are a great investment considering that they keep a baby and a 7 year old occupied.
One Last Word before Parting
If you don’t have much money or much room, don’t feel bad about not being able to get all of these or even one. Your kids can learn to have fun with sticks just as much as one of these. I am just giving you this list so that if you do want to buy toys (or want to put these on your kids Christmas list), you will have some intentional toys to choose from. Whether you have none, want to choose a couple or can get all, you can be intentional with your family culture and with the resources you put in front of your kids. And I hope this has helped to give you some inspiration!