Open ended play is about letting things unfold and going along with it. When setting it up, there isn’t a defined finished product in mind. It’s fascinating; watching kids experiment with whatever’s around them.
This baby play is simple to set up: a splash mat, heavy cardboard, spray bottle with some water and some chalk.
While this open ended play with wet chalk is suitable for babies who can sit up, it’s certainly not restricted to only babies. As with most open play, it’s great for all ages: toddlers, preschoolers, children and adults alike.
My difficulty with open play is letting go of my preconceived notions of what I think should be done. So, when I see wet chalk, at the back of my mind, it was about the drawing. I’m wondering what will my kids draw, what marks will they make, how will they make them?
As these pictures reveal though, my mindset is so narrow in its’ focus. Therein lies the beauty of open ended play. It stretches boundaries, and lets us think and work outside the square.
For Mr E, open ended play with wet chalk was about: learning how to use new tools (a spray bottle); feeling different textures (wet and slippery); discovering that marks can be removed; and though you squirt lots of water into a sponge, it doesn’t look shiny like the wet cardboard does.
For Miss K, open ended play with wet chalk was about: making marks not just on cardboard, but also on the sponge, feeling the texture not just of the wet cardboard, but also of the egg carton the egg chalk were kept in; looking at not just the top side of the cardboard, but what was on the other side, and what drawing on the dry side was like.
When I sit down and think carefully about the way my children have explored through open ended play, I can’t help but think how wonderful open ended play. It reveals so much more of the human mind. Open ended play stretches boundaries, and allows us to think and work outside the square.
What are your favourite open ended play invitations? I’m keen to try many more open ended play invitations and would love to hear from you.
More Activities for Babies and Toddlers
Zero to Two: The Book of Play is full of fun activities for babies and toddlers. There are 25 ideas for babies and toddlers, with additional links to over 50+ activities. A great resource for parents. Download your copy here.
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