Our favorite toys for open ended, creative play
Letting children learn through play doesn't mean they need lots of toys - less is more! Every parent has experienced kids who are more interested in the crinkly wrapping paper, bubble wrap, or box that a well-intentioned toy came in. However, holidays and birthdays can be a great opportunity to invest in high-quality, open-ended playthings that kids will be able to use for years to come. Here are some of our favorites to add to Santa's list!
These beautiful scarves are a Waldorf staple and have endless uses - from peekaboo with the youngest babies to superhero capes for preschoolers. Ours are from Sarah's Silks and have been in regular use since I gifted them to Baby Bear (3) at 14 months. They make them in both large and small sizes - the smaller ones are more manageable for babies.
Blocks are one of the main categories of basic toy, and these unit blocks are a preschool classic. They can be expensive, but it's worth investing in a set made of quality natural materials, without toxic paint or splinters.
MagnaTiles are another great open ended building toy. There are many spin-off brands, and solid as well as translucent options. I'd strongly recommend the translucent ones - they're super cool on a light table.
Schleich makes high-quality, realistic toy animals that fall into the Montessori philosophy (Waldorf animals tend to be stylized and made of wood or felt, and Reggio Emelia favors open ended loose parts over specific animal toys). Some of the accessories and smaller animals would be a choking hazard for young children, so stick to horses, cows, etc for kids under 3.