I so often feel like as parents there are so many toys to choose from for our children. How often do you walk around a toy shop and think ‘gosh we definitely didn’t have this as kids’. While our kids have some pretty incredible toys on offer that ignites their imagination – I do sometimes feel that we hand them toys which limits their thinking beyond what is put in front of them, it limits their imagination and it limits their problem solving abilities.
I recently met Jess of Imagine Play (a family run KZN business) at a Christmas market and while browsing her stand I found myself asking her… ‘so how do kids play with this’… While I was chatting to Jess – who just started the business a few months ago, I could see Maddie in the corner of my eye playing with the wooden toys… half circles, rainbow stackers, wooden balls, peg friends… she was creating… she was story telling… she was in another world where anything is possible! Maddie had answered the question I had found myself asking Jess.
Open-ended play is something I feel our kids need more of… it’s a creative form of free play that has no-preset limitations and no fixed outcome or answer. Things like puzzles are great however they are predetermined and close-ended in that once it has been completed the outcome has been achieved. When children are given blocks, boxes, sticks, water, clay, stones, material, shells and paper and are encouraged to explore – this is open-ended play. They use their imaginations, allowing the story to develop in the direction they want it to. There are no right or wrong ways to play. Sticks start to become swords, wands, a guitar… the play is limitless.
After having a good chat to Jess about open-ended play and seeing Maddie’s interest in the ‘toys’ I knew I had to explore this topic more and Jess agreed to send Maddie a starter kit for me to better understand the world of open-ended play.
We were gifted with; a large and a small natural wooden rainbow stacker, a set of both the stacking semi-circles in both bright and pastels, stacking planks in bright and pastels as well as a bridge set in natural and a pack of pastel balls.
I immediately fell in love with the fact that they are wooden – wholesome and good for the environment! They are sturdy, non-toxic, aesthetically pleasing – they could be used as decorative pieces on a bookshelf when not in use and being wooden you know that they are made to last! The toys are handmade using the highest quality sustainably-sourced premium wood and natural oil and non-toxic colour stains are used to coat the toys so the organic feel and texture of the wood is preserved.
I have to admit receiving the box of goodies and opening it was quite intimidating as I thought ‘okay now what’ because I am so used to knowing what to do, but it is as simple as putting the box in front of Maddie and letting her imagination dictate the game.
Watching her come up with ideas and stories has been incredible to watch! She inspired me to do some research and look into some of the ideas Imagine Play share on their Instagram page and show Maddie. Let’s just say I have enjoyed the open-ended play too!
All in all, I have loved watching Maddie play with the set. The range has absolutely nourished Maddie’s senses with hours and hours of healthy, balanced play and simple, good-old fashioned play!
The range starts from R149 to R799 with a bunch of different types of shapes to choose from. I am excited to start adding to Maddie’s collection and further see her enjoy the toys as well as grow further and further into as she gets older. I definitely feel like these are toys she will play with and enjoy for a good couple of years and it will continue to challenge her imagination!
Here’s a short video of Maddie playing with the set:
Until next time…
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