Open Ended Play Blog

Open Ended Play Inspiring Imagination

Mar 10, 2021 | Stories, Reviews, Guest Blogs, Inspiration | 0 comments |

Inspiring Imagination

this family life logoThe aim of our Pikler Inspired range was two fold – encouraging activity and inspiring imaginative play. When we spoke with Lisa Slade, A mum of two, Instagramer and blogger dedicated to all things family life we were excited to show her our range.

We gifted Lisa a Junior Pastel Rainbow Climbing set and a Junior Desk Set as we were excited about seeing our rainbow range in action. Here’s what she has to say:

Open Ended Play – Lisa Slade of This Family Life

Five years ago, the term open ended play meant absolutely nothing to me and that’s ok.

As adults we tend to want to see purpose, reasoning, our imaginations are somewhat thwarted by realism and as such, when it comes to toy choices we may be naturally drawn to toys with obvious play outcomes. Children on the other hand have a superpower in the form of their imaginations. Seeing things through a child’s eyes is actually a spectacular view point.

Thinking back on my childhood I remember making mud pies, perfume from flowers, using saucepans as drums, colanders as robot heads and acted out adventures using foraged sticks as fairy wands, a time where I saw usual everyday items as something far more magical.

After my first child was born I purchased baby toy after baby toy, wondering why the interest in them was so short lived. I thought I just had to find her ‘thing’, the activity that would spark her imagination and allow her to play for hours. I triedpuzzles, character toys, soft toys, stacking toys, musical toys all of which gave limited excitement ending up at the bottom of a toy box after a short stint in the favourites section. At this time I thought back on my childhood and there were certainly some classic toys that I remember fondly but in the main, it was the self-led, imagined activities that stuck in my mind.

Toddler at Easel Triangle
Steady on the descent
Girl on Slide and Rainbow Arch

Open Ended Research

Some research led me to the idea of open ended play – put simply open ended play is play where there are no expectations, no required outcome and no prescriptive direction. An easy example is giving a child a pen and paper and telling them to draw you a cat, with this instruction you take away some of their creativity and decision making – this is prescriptive. Whereas, if you leave pen and paper freely open and available to be used at any time, for any reason you are giving opportunity for the child to make their own choice and allow their imaginations to take the lead. This encourages creativity and imagination in a child, it allows us as parents to encourage the child to use the freedom of their superpower imagination and make their own decisions which will fully engage them.

Open ended play has many benefits on top of sparking creativity and imagination, these include developing key skills such as problem solving and decision making, allowing them to be free in their thought process and be more inspired.

A home or childcare setting offering open ended play, does not have to be a free for all, there are certain staple items that create a world of opportunity whilst focussing on the development of key skills. Art tables, writing areas, reading nooks, fine motor resources and gross motor activities.

My first born daughter was hypermobile, meaning her joints were very flexible and as a result anything that required balance and muscle control was really hard for her, my son had some gross motor development delays and with both of these factors, indoor gross motor activities were and continue to be hugely important to me. When my sons gross motor skills finally popped into action a few months back he immediately headed to everything that could be climbed, sofa’s, stairs, bookcases etc – and so I needed something else, that was free to be climbed at any time, that would not result in an adult scooping him up mid ascent ruining his fun and crucially his exploration of his new found motor skills.

Artist in action
Great Hanging Ideas
Farmyards and desks

Ligneus Play’s Inspired Triangle

When I stumbled across Ligneus Play’s Pikler Inspired Triangle, I was taken back not only by the triangle on its own and the benefits that this offers but of the very clever accessories which make this already open ended resource astoundingly useful.

As a piece of equipment used for climbing, this triangle offers children the ability to develop gross motor skills, balance, coordination, problem solving and to make their own risk assessment (can I do this? How should I approach it? Should I do it?). But the triangle, in the imagination of a child becomes so much more than a piece of climbing apparatus. A mountain, a hurdle, a bridge, a tower and more. When you add on a slide, a ladder or a connection to an arch rocker the opportunities are endless. The best part for me however, are the accessories that make this fairly large piece of equipmenthave many more uses. A desk, an easel, a play table, craft station, toy shelfs, lunch space, homework area, computer table, snack station. So now I don’t need, a toddler table, an art easel, a desk – I have it in one piece of equipment which can be amended everyday, multiple times per day.

Hard at work
Busy Desk Active Mind


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