Creating open ended play opportunities

Creating open ended play opportunities

How to setup open ended play opportunities

I covered in my earlier post what open ended play is and why I like it, what I wanted to look at now was how we create spaces and setups to encourage open ended play.

It's not as daunting as it may seem just requires a little bit of thought and creativity or just some thought and let the little ones come up with the creativity.

First thing there is no set way of doing this but there are a few things you can do to help get you started. You will find a method that works for you and your child, and as I have said before and probably will again sometimes it won't work don't worry just try again another time this is not an exact science.

Tips for getting started:

  • Screens off, possibly the biggest distraction and inhibitor of play are screens they demand your attention leaving none left for play. They have their place and we are very far from a screen free house but if you want to encourage free play they need to go off.
  • Free up some time, If your going on the school run in 20 mins then this is not the right time to setup you can't rush or force this type of play and you don't want to set something up for your child to get involved then have to cut their play short.
  • Rotate your toys/resources if they haven't seen something for a while it will automatically renew their interest in it.
  • Follow your child's interests if they are mad on cars at the moment that's fine get a few cars out and combine them with other things to create a new play opportunity
  • Don't be tempted to over manage by all means give prompts "what's that", "could this go in there", "what happened" just don't tell them what to do suggest and leave it to them. It can be hard at first to resist the temptation I know I've had to remind myself a few times.
  • Age appropriate if you put out a knife you will have no option but to over manage. Put resources out that they can safely use without your support, there is a time for this but not now.


 Some examples of open ended play:

  • Craft is a fantastic way of encouraging play, to use cars as an example again you could get out some paints a tray and a few cars some paper and brushes. This could go lots of ways from simply painting with the brush maybe a garage or a road for the car to follow, to painting with the car itself making tracks on the paper or maybe painting the car roof and making a print with it these are just a few examples. You could introduce other items to make prints with if you see an interest developing.
  • Outside is amazing for open ended play, some soil,grass cuttings leaves and containers.
  • Playdough, Rice, Pasta as well as being fantastic sensory resources it's great for open ended play set it up with some empty bottles, tubs and scoops, maybe some dinosaurs or animals to hide in it or pretend jewels.
  • Water play similar to the rice and pasta but with the added element of introducing things that float and sink maybe add the option for soap bubbles or ice and food colouring to change the colour. 


These are just a few examples but are a good starting point the most important thing in all of this is to have fun, if your little one is having fun they will be learning too. Explore and relinquish some control you will have as much fun with this as your little one.



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