Encouraging Creative Play with Open-Ended Toys like Lincoln Logs®

Thank you to K’NEX for sponsoring this post, all opinions are my own. 


My son has recently started getting more independent in his play and enjoys with toys that allow him to build things, fix things, and generally use his imagination. I love it because I really want him to use his mind and imagination when playing instead of letting the games do the playing for him. There are lots of options on the market for ‘open-ended’ play, but one thing I knew he would really like was a set of building materials such as Lincoln Logs or K’NEX building sets.

Even though the sets do come with instructions on how to build certain designs, you can really make anything you want and come up with lots of different houses and buildings. We had a chance to try out the Redfield Ranch line of Lincoln Logs, and I not only love the opportunity these types of toys give for creative play, but these are toys I also played with as a child which brings back great memories of sitting alone just building and building.

lincoln logsAbout Lincoln Logs® Redfield Ranch

Build a home on the range!  Lincoln Logs® Redfield Ranch™ includes 124 real wood logs, plus colorful figures and other building accessories.  Step-by-step instructions for building a ranch complete with a horse and cowboy figure are included.  Parts come in a newly designed and collectible storage container, so clean-up is quick and easy.

Suggested retail price is $39.99. Ages 3+.   Available exclusively at Toys “R” Us.

Encouraging creative play

Recently I’ve been following the teachings of Janet Lansbury, and studying how she implements the RIE model of parenting/care-giving. I have been very intrigued and inspired by what she says and have been trying to put many of her ideas into practice. One of the things that really has stood out is the idea of creative play.

I honestly have never felt like a creative person myself, and hope that I can instill some sense of creativity in my own children. In one of her articles, Janet quotes another early childhood educator, Bev Bos, and writes: “Early Childhood educator and popular lecturer Bev Bos urged adults, “Never draw for a child.” Her advice extends to include painting, sculpting, crafting, block tower and sand castle building, story creating, or anything artistic or creative.  When we show a child how to do those things, we intend to encourage creativity, but we interfere with it instead, by demonstrating for our child the ‘right’ way.”

This is one area I struggle, and so does my son. When we do building sets like these I always want him to just be creative and build what he feels like building, but he sees the directions and then thinks we have to build exactly what is on the piece of paper. He has gotten pretty good at following directions, however, he gets frustrated if he doesn’t get it ‘just right’, and will often beg for my help. I try to encourage him to just build something of his own design, but he can be pretty strong willed. We have been working on this more and more though, and I’ve tried to take a step back as I encourage him to just play. I think perhaps removing the directions that come with the building kits prior to him seeing them might be a big help in this process.

lincoln logs

This was the latest build we did together, and as you can see it is pretty cut and dry to the directions. Although five minutes after building it, my son tore it down into pieces and just started playing–so that is a start! I think next time I will just ‘lose’ the directions and see where his play takes him.

So tell us…

How do you encourage creativity in your kids? Do you give your children ample time for just ‘free-play’ with open ended toys?



Jesica H

When she isn’t drowning in a pile of never-ending laundry or picking up Legos, Jesica is busy helping other parents make their lives a little less stressful with homemaking hacks, easy recipes, fun DIY projects, and more. On her successful blog, The Mommy Bunch, her Cricut crafting tutorials are the most popular articles and are what sparked her passion for helping others build a business of their own. Jesica started rockyourcraft.com where you can find loads more craft tutorials and business advice. In her FREE Facebook group, Rock Your Craft Business, Jesica teaches other entrepreneurs how to take their craft business to the next level by building their brand, targeting the right customers, and utilizing smart social media strategies. Join us!

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4 thoughts on “Encouraging Creative Play with Open-Ended Toys like Lincoln Logs®

  • November 19, 2013 at 1:15 pm
    Your article is very valuable and I hope that parents understand how important open ended play is for their children. We have a set of lincoln logs too! I enjoy them as much as the kids because I had them growing up too :) Reply
    • November 19, 2013 at 2:50 pm
      Thanks Jenny, we are trying. :-) And isn't it great when your kids play with the same toys you used to! Reply
  • November 19, 2013 at 9:08 pm
    When my first child was small we would get down and play with him - teaching him to play with the toys. then he figured it out on his own. I think the biggest gift we gave our kids when they were small was turning off the tv and letting them have quiet or peaceful music in the background where they could focus on enjoying creative play. Reply
  • November 21, 2013 at 4:25 am
    My grandson hasn't played with anything like this yet. I think he would enjoy being creative and building with these logs. Right now he mostly just stacks mega bloks. Reply

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