If you're stocking your Montessori classroom, you're likely not looking for open-ended toys.
But open-ended toys do have a place in the home environment.
They're great for intellectual development and creativity.
What's The Difference Between Montessori Toys and Open-Ended Toys?
Skip this section if you already know!
However, if you're new to Montessori or even just new to purchasing toys for your child, this will help.
Open-ended toys can be used in many different ways and they don't have one purpose, for instance, a set of blocks or some variation of blocks (Magnatiles, Duplo, etc).
Whereas Montessori "toys", often referred to as shelf work, have a more clearly defined purpose, with a beginning, middle, and end to the activity. A puzzle is a good example.
A Montessori classroom often has exclusively purposeful, Montessori materials but a Montessori classroom schedule usually leaves time for open-ended play, like during outdoor time. More flexible Montessori classrooms will also allow children to use materials outside of their intended purpose for open-ended play.
At home, it's good to have a healthy mix of open-ended toys and time for free play. It's wonderful for development of the imagination.
The #1 Open-Ended Toy on Our Shelf...
These things are seriously THE. BEST.
And you might be thinking "Why do I need to spend money on a piece of colourful fabric? I have a ton of clothes, blankets, scarves, and towels. Aren't they the same?"
The material, colour, and size of Playsilks make them perfect for so many different activities. The silk provides a rich sensory experience and children are just naturally drawn to the beautiful colours.
From infancy to 6+, children will use them in so many imaginative, engaging ways - their open-ended uses are truly infinite.
Playsilks in Infancy
For infants, I highly recommend mini playsilks because they are a better size for little ones.
Peek-a-boo: The colourful, light, sheer nature of the fabric definitely enhanced sensory stimulation when playing peek-a-boo with your infant. You could watch their eyes follow the airy movement of the fabric and the bright colours are mesmerizing.
Tummy time: Playsilks are a great motivator for movement when a baby is in the tummy time position. They are easy to grab and hold on to and they don’t roll away like other tummy time toys.
Play Gym Accessory: Tie them to a wooden play gym frame and watch your baby explore them by kicking, reaching, grasping, feeling and watching the gentle movement of the fabric.
Dancing: Put on some upbeat music and watch as your child moves the playsilks to the rhythm. This is a great activity for strengthening muscles and building listening skills. You can even play Dance Freeze for an added challenge.
Hand Eye Coordination: Since playsilks are so light and airy, they require a lot of effort to throw up in the air and a lot of concentration to watch where they fall in order to catch them. Their flowy nature makes movement fun and unpredictable. Much like with balloons, children can engage in throwing and catching these for a surprisingly long time.
Sensory Play: You can use multiple playsilks in sensory bins for added stimulation. Don’t be scared to get playsilks wet! You can use them in the water, with ice cubes, or blow bubbles around them. There is a much richer sensory experience to be had when playing with wet silk.
Playsilks for Ages 2+
Older children, who tend to engage in more imaginative play, will love the addition of giant playsilks.
Imaginative Play: Playsilks can be used as water for a boat, a fire pit for roasting marshmallows, a fort cover, the night sky, a table cloth, a bag of treasures, a bed, blankets for dolls and animals, etc. etc. etc.
Dress Up: If you think about it, costumes are really closed-ended. If you buy a firefighter costume or a Spiderman costume, your child is fairly confined in their use. They can be a firefighter or Spiderman. One playsilk can replace all these costumes because they can become anything.
Fort Building:The playsilks, specifically the giant playsilks, are great for covering larger spaces to create forts or tents. Cover our Montessori Climbing Triangle or the couch cushionswith a silk and the fort is done. Since the playsilks are so lightweight,children won't need help to throw them over a structure, which makes life a lot easier and promotes independence in play.
Playsilks are the ultimate open-ended toy and an amazing addition to any play space. They can be used for many years in many different ways - both indoors and outdoors!
And, best of all, they take up no space to store.
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