Open-Ended Activities – What/Why/How
Author: Lara Jennings Date Posted: 10 May 2015
While I was visiting Early Learning Centres again last week, all of them mentioned open-endedness as being an important feature for a product when deciding what to get for their next resource order. So here are my thoughts on open-ended activities for young children.
What are open-ended activities?
A task is considered open-ended when more than one outcome is possible. Essentially when a child is doing something that is open-ended, they are in control and the possibilities of what they can do are endless. Children can solve problems in the most creative way when they are participating in open-ended play.
Why are open-ended activities so fabulous?
Open-ended activities promote creativity and problem solving. These abilities are the backbone of success not just in school but well into adulthood. When children are enthralled in open-ended play, they become responsible for wherever their play will take them. This comes with a whole bucket of fabulous learning moments that can lead on to other learning moments. Quite often your child will surprise you with some fabulous insight about how they see the world when they are participating in open-ended play. And that is the thing I love most about open-ended play.
So what are some super easy examples of open-ended play?
Modelling or play dough is one of my all-time favourite open-ended activities for little ones. They shapes they can make and mould are endless! And here is a lovely little snippet of how you can use dough to guide learning:
Example: “What are you making?”
“A DINOSAUR! FABULOUS! What can you tell me about dinosaurs?”
"(Insert fabulously insightful answer that can lead to more questions and learning here!)"
Who doesn’t love building blocks?! I’ll admit that when I first sat down with my little one and started to build stuff with blocks I was doing just your standard tower type stuff. But when you sit back and watch a child you realise just how magical building blocks can be!
Music and Movement
Another winner in our house. Nothing puts a smile on my face more than watching the joy my little ones have when we are dancing around the lounge room to music together. The beauty of the freedom of movement to music is that there is no right way to do it! And they can listen to any music! It doesn’t have to be Frozen or the Wiggles. Pop on your favourite playlist (consider the lyrics first though – gansta rap may not be appropriate) and get into it! Having them create the music is also a wonderful open-ended task that can really show off your child’s creative side as well. And don’t restrict yourself to the everyday musical instruments. Sound and music can be made with everything!
Whatever you use, the main thing you need to remember for it to be truly open-ended is to let the child lead! That’s when the true magic happens.