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The Library's Early Literacy Program

The Library's Early Literacy Program


Open-Ended Play

It's been a hot summer and you've probably been playing indoors a lot. In fact, you may feel like you've already played with everything in your house! But have you thought outside of the box - or rather, have you thought OF the box? Boxes, plastic containers, cardboard tubes and other items you may have hanging out in your recycling can provide a fun play experience that also drives creativity and brain development. Look around and see if you have some of these items available to play with at home:

Boxes: boxes of all sizes are fantastic for open-ended play! They can be blocks, buildings for toys, even cars, rocketships or houses for kids! When the box gets worn out, flatten it out and use it for paint or to put down to protect the floor for messy play.

Plastic Containers and Lids: clean out your plastic containers and see what your kids can do with them! Big kids can use their imagination to come up with new ways to play and babies and toddlers love the opportunity to match lids to containers and put items in them.

Cardboard Tubes: Hold on to a few tubes from paper towel rolls, wrapping paper or mailings. Tubes of all sizes can be used for tunnels, science experiments, telescopes - the list is endless!

Fabric: small scraps can be used for dolls and toy animals, bigger pieces become capes and slings.

Egg Cartons: clean out your egg cartons well and let older children use them for sorting.

Always monitor all play with household materials closely so your children are safe. These open-ended materials provide the opportunity for endless - and free! - play.

If this type of play interests you, check out the Loose Parts series by Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovsky. These guides share lots of ideas for playing with items around you and explain how important open-ended play is!








Questions or want more ideas? Email