In the whirlwind of parenthood, it’s easy to get swept up in the frenzy of gadgets and gizmos marketed as essential for our children’s development. Yet, amidst the chaos, there’s a timeless treasure waiting to be discovered: open-ended play.

What is open-ended play?

This type of play, with its lack of strict rules or instructions, holds such value for our little ones. Picture times where a toddler is engrossed in play, surrounded by simple yet versatile objects. A cardboard box becomes a spaceship hurtling through space, while a padded playmat transforms the floor into a fortress defended against imaginary foes. These are just glimpses into the magical world of open-ended play, where the only limit is a child’s imagination.

Car tracks on a play mat

Now that we’ve sold you on how awesome this type of play is, here are some real-life examples which you can help to set up.

Building and Construction: Provide your toddler with a stack of blocks, empty cardboard boxes, or even recycled household items like empty containers or paper towel rolls. Toy trucks can be used to move chia seed concrete. Watch as they experiment with stacking, balancing, and creating structures limited only by their imagination. A tower may become a skyscraper, a bridge, or even a castle guarded by dragons. A padded play mat is best for this type of floor play.

magnetic tiles on a play mat

Role Play: Set the stage for imaginative adventures by providing dress-up clothes, puppets, or simple props like scarves or hats. Encourage your toddler to take on different roles and act out scenes from their favourite stories or everyday scenarios. A tea party with stuffed animals or daring rescue mission to save teddy from the dragon.

blue baby play mat

Artistic Expression: Set up an art station with crayons, paints, paper, and other craft supplies, and let your toddler’s creativity run wild. Replace paint brushes with the rolloing wheels of a toy monster truck, cut fruit into stamps and substitute paper for leaves. Whether they’re finger painting, doodling, or sculpting with playdough, the process of creating art allows children to express themselves freely and experiment with different textures and colours. Our padded playmats are all waterproof, and large enough to ensure this messy play won’t escape your children’s play mat.

Sensory Play: Fill a shallow container with rice, pasta, water, or sand, and add scoops, cups, and other tools for scooping and pouring. Sensory play stimulates a child’s senses and provides opportunities for exploration and discovery. From making mud pies to creating sensory bins filled with themed objects, the possibilities are endless. We love creating water scenes on our Reef playmat.

reef play mat sensory tray

Open-ended play offers toddlers the freedom to explore, create, and imagine without limitations. Rockabye River padded play mats are designed to promote children’s imaginations, which is why all of our designs come with a reversible children’s side.

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