If there is one thing I have learned throughout my studies in early childhood development, and in my 9 years as a parent, is that open-ended play is the best way to provide confidence building learning experiences for your children. Using open-ended activities allows your children to build confidence in their abilities, learn new skills, and discover ways to have fun all on their own.
Games for Open-Ended Play
There are several options for kids when it comes to open-ended play, and really your imagination is the limit, but here are a few thought starters to get you and your family going.
Dramatic play using make-believe forts, tents, costumes, and everyday items found within their reach (such as a stick as a sword, guitar, a horse, etc.).
Art projects with no set rules, just a few given supplies at their disposal.
Realistic props such as dolls or play kitchens can offer hours of fun, especially for younger children.
Playground equipment, which can be visited at a park or in your own backyard.
Can screen-based experiences still spark imaginative, open play in kids?
I like to this so. In fact, there are many kid-friendly game options out there that not only give kids open-ended experiences because they get to choose the outcomes of the game, but also provide great learning experiences.
One game we recently tried is an app called Dumb Ways JR Boffo’s Breakfast. This app is all about teaching kids about safety — through play! The kids are having so much fun playing, they don’t even realize they are learning at the same time.
In Dumb Ways JR Boffo’s Breakfast, Boffo (the younger version of one of the characters in the original Dumb Ways to Die video) is hungry, and the child playing with the app is his personal chef. Children make him an awesome cooked breakfast by chopping and grating ingredients.
My eldest daughter was having a blast adding different ingredients, but my youngest daughter really loves this game too, and they were taking turns chopping away!
They can also add sloppy items such as eggs and milk, stir the mixture, cook it, add seasonings, and serve their meal to Boffo. Players are encouraged to experiment with how many different creations they can make for Boffo.
Mix, mix, stir, stir…..
Boffo wasn’t too sure about the girls cooking his meal on the highest setting, he looks a little worried here (this is also a great time to spark a conversation with your kids about safe cooking and use of equipment).
You can also watch Boffo react when he bites into a whole chilli or when weird ingredients are combined – sprinkles with eggs just don’t go well together! Kids think it’s hilarious when Boffo screws his face up to combinations he doesn’t like.
Love Boffo? Take him home with you!
Boffo provides a great opportunity for open-ended play and is a good introduction to apps/electronics for younger kids.
You can find Dumb Ways JR Boffo’s Breakfast in the Apple Store or on Google play.
Thanks to Dumb Ways JR and The Motherhood for sponsoring this content, opinions are my own.