Creative Play Things :: Simple Props for Open-Ended Play
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Creative Play Things: Simple Props for Open-Ended Play


Creative Play Things :: Simple Props for Open-Ended Play

My four-year-old and her friend Emily surprised me by playing for hours with some little wooden apples and rainbow buckets.

They sorted these creative play things, carried them, “ate” them, fed them to their (stuffed) animals, danced with them, created games around them, brought them along in the car and giggled about what silly things Maia might do with them when we picked her up, hid them, found them, and carried (pretend) water in the buckets.

Wood Apples and Buckets 01

I could have encouraged them to count or sort the apples (they did the latter anyway) or play a game with the apples, but I didn’t.

I just set the apples and buckets out on the table. An invitation to play. Didn’t even mention them.

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It wasn’t long before Emily and Daphne discovered the apples and buckets…

(The wild looking one with the post-braid frizz hair is mine, of course.)

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…sorted the apples into their color-coded buckets…

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…and were off! Easily and joyfully incorporating their find into their ongoing imaginative play.

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They took turns playing music on the keyboard and dancing with the buckets of apples (I didn’t quite understand why, but that’s not the point, is it?).

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Another time I might bring out the color die I also ordered and introduce a more structured game with the wooden apples and buckets. But not this time. Their imagination was the only foil these simple, colorful props needed for an afternoon of pretend play.

If you have little ones, I highly recommend similar creative play things for open-ended play. I purchased these from Mama May i, one of my long-time blog sponsors.

When I told Jessica, from Mama May i, how much fun Daphne and Emily had with the buckets and apples, she described how her kids played with them:

I let my daughters’ play with the buckets, rainbow roller, and apples over Thanksgiving and they played an apple-collecting game to try to empty the buckets. But they would often get ” color blocked” or “size blocked” by the other. Then we talked about who had “more” or “less” red, purple, big, little, medium, etc. They loved it! 

Mama May i also sells lots of other items that are perfect for imaginative play. We have and love these:

Wood Toys for Open Ended Play

What are your kids’ favorite props for open-ended play?


  • Reply
    January 4, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    I love that blue rug in your living room. Would you mind sharing where you got it? Thanks!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    January 5, 2014 at 5:28 am

    Thanks, Amber! The rug is from IKEA. Here’s the link: It’s surprisingly thick and good quality for the price.

  • Reply
    January 6, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Love your posts!!
    I just tried to purchase the apples using the discount code, but received a message saying the code was invalid :(

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