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5 Essential Benefits of Close-Ended Play for Toddlers

Close-ended play and open-ended play are often compared against another when they shouldn’t. There is no right and wrong between the two. On the contrary, for optimum growth and development, your child’s playtime should have a healthy balance between close-ended play and open-ended play.

Open-ended play, also called free play, has no definite rules and no specific outcome that needs to be achieved. On the other hand, close-ended play or structured play has directions that need to be followed, a clear beginning-middle-end, and a specific ending.

Now, play in general accomplishes many different things for children in different stages of development. For example, for a newborn baby or a toddler, open-ended play is more effective as it fuels imagination and creativity.

But for an older toddler or a growing child who seeks a more structured kind of play, close-ended toys just might be the better option. These toys include puzzles, mazes, shape sorters, crafts, board games, and more.

Here are 5 benefits of close-ended play that are worth knowing!

1. Close-ended play helps build attention span.

Because close-ended toys and games have a defined direction for how it should go and end, playing these encourages your child to actually finish the game. For example, in order to stack cups or sort all the shapes, your child needs to use up all the cups and shapes correctly to finish the game. This builds attention span.

2. Close-ended play helps children follow rules and directions.

For the same reason mentioned above, close-ended play is a great way to teach young children the importance of following rules and directions. This is because close-ended toys cannot be completed properly unless instructions are followed. It also helps your child learn how to pay close attention to details — even loopholes!

3. Close-ended toys can be great for fine motor skills.

Just like open-ended toys like blocks, there are also many close-ended toys that do great in refining a growing toddler’s fine motor skills. One of the best toys that do this are puzzles! In order to finish a puzzle correctly, your child needs to put the puzzles in the right places and in the right orientation. With this said, puzzles are also awesome for honing spatial awareness!

4. Close-ended play promotes mastery.

When your goal is to encourage independent play, open-ended play may be better. However, while your child may need your help to attain the goal of a close-ended toy at the beginning (like a matching game), sooner or later, they will learn how to achieve it on their own. This is because they are beginning to memorize sequences, concepts, and techniques to master the game.

5. Close-ended play foster sportsmanship.

One of the biggest close-ended play your child will definitely encounter is sports! Prepare your toddler for sports by letting them play close-ended toys and games with a clear winner. An example of this are board games like Scrabble. With these games, you will be able to teach them how to react appropriately whether they win or lose. 

Close-ended play is often perceived as inferior to open-ended play, when in fact both should make it into your child’s playtime! Playing with close-ended toys like puzzles, board games, and mazes results in many essential benefits for your growing toddler. 

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