I am so glad that the focus on open-ended toys is returning!
Most kids have so many toys that light up and sing songs and are bright and flashy and entertaining. Kids love them, and you have to admit they keep kids entertained and busy.
But like most parents, we are now intentionally finding open-ended toys for our boy because we want him to be exposed to toys that inspire creativity and spark imagination. We want less mindless button-pressing toys and more toys that require building, making stuff up, putting things together, taking things apart, and creating.
So here is my list of the bestopen ended toys for 2-3 year old toddlers. These are all toys that we own or are on our wish list for holidays and our son's 3rd birthday.
For example, this train set has kept our son busy for hours, giving us so much free time as parents. He is also very entertained by his farm animals, and I can see how his pretend play is developing as he grows. He no longer just moos and oinks when playing with them, but is getting more creative with his play all the time, making up little stories as much as he can.
So here are the open ended toys I would recommend for any parent who is looking to keep their toddlers busy with educational play:
This is my favorite out of all of my son's toys. It's fun for both toddlers and adults, and it's so easy to stick together magnetic tiles that little hands can do it even before they turn two.
There is so much you can make with these - our son asks me to build him a "rocket ship" almost every day, and he is starting to figure out how to build small cubes and make patterns. I can see him playing with this for years as he grows.
Inexpensive farm animals are some of my son's favorite toys. He pretends to be the animals, pretends to feed them, brings them to the dining table (read about my tips for keeping a toddler seated longer at the high chair), and carries them around with him all day long.
I love seeing him play with simple toys without any gimmicks!
This rainbow set is absolutely beautiful. If you are into wooden toys, this is a must have. Stack them, balance them, decorate with them, wheel your cars through them, walk your farm animals under them, there's so much to do!
All of Grimm's wooden toys and puzzles are absolutely gorgeous and great for open ended play.
This toy allows kids to get creative by drawing tracks for the little robot to follow. A two year old might not fully get the concept but might still enjoy watching it drive around the black line. As the child grows older, they'll be able to draw bigger and more complex paths for the magic robot.
I *love* the idea of toys that our son can grow into, plus this looks like SO MUCH FUN. I am getting him this for his birthday. 🙂
Side note: This toy, like most toys, requires adult supervision, because kids can accidentally draw on the floor or wall, and it comes with button batteries, which are a choking hazard.
A wood block set is a classic and a must-have open ended toy. Our son has a set at my mom's house and he is finally starting to understand that he can do more things that just stack blocks on top of each other. His favorite activity is making tracks for him to wheel his little cars around.
I had a metal one of these when I was a child, but this plastic one is definitely a safer choice for little toddlers. Two year olds might not quite understand how to build an airplane yet, but they can start learning how to put two pieces together and get some fine motor skills practice in!
Our son is getting this train set from his not-so-secret Santa this year. He LOVES trains and can play with them for hours when we go to someone else's house. At two years old, he still needs help putting the tracks together, but he'll wheel the train around for hours.
This set is compatible with other major brands which is awesome for expanding this train set later on. I love that it's a wooden train set without any bells or whistles.
Dollhouses are actually an amazing gender-neutral gift. Little boys and girls both love to play with little people and characters, they'll get so much joy of walking the little family through the house, making up stories about what they're doing and where they're doing.
Mud kitchens are an amazing open ended toy for toddlers if you have the backyard space for it. Here are a few mud kitchen ideas for all spaces and budgets. You can easily build your own or buy one here on Amazon.