Open-ended play and directed play. Which one to choose? - Learning Time HK

Open-ended play and directed play. Which one to choose?

Simply put, open-ended play generally does not have a final goal. For example, when your child plays with building blocks, they can build anything - there is no ‘right answer’. Directed play involves a goal, whether it’s a general or specific goal. For example, when your child is playing with a kitchen set, you tell them ‘can you cook three veggies?’ We love to incorporate both into our kits since both have their benefits. 

Open-ended play

  • Encourages creativity and imagination 
  • Encourages problem-solving 
  • Builds persistence 
  • Encourages language use and interaction 


Toy examples

  • • Ocean Board

Your child can place the sea creatures on the ocean backdrop and engage in pretend play. They can also go fishing with the magnetic fishing rod. 

  • Magic tissue box 

Your child can practice pulling the tissues out. They can also figure out how to put things in and take things out. 

  • Supermarket shelf 

Your child can place different food items onto the board. They can also practice fine motor skills as they peel and stick. 

Directed play 

  • Encourages planning 
  • Builds self-regulation skills 
  • Encourages parent-child interaction 
  • Builds concentration 


Toy examples 

  • Fruit tree 

Practice matching the fruits to the colored branches. Then, place the fruits in the matching baskets. 

  • What’s in the grass? 

Match the big critters to the little critters in this game of hide and seek. 

  • Discovery box

Figure out which holes to push the shapes through. Then, open to lid to retrieve each piece. 

Research shows that both types of play have benefits, and there really aren’t really any disadvantages to doing either. We try to balance both ways of playing in our kits. Each toy can be explored by your child independently, but we also provide plenty of activity suggestions you can do with your child. 



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