Child development is a complex and fascinating area of study that involves tracking the changes that occurs in children from birth through adolescence. During the first four years of life, children experience rapid physical, cognitive, and social emotional changes, which greatly impact their overall development.

BENEFITS OF OPEN-ENDED TOYS IN CHILD DEVELOPMENT

Open-ended means something that has no end. This is why openended toys have endless playing possibilities. Open-ended toys are toys that allow children to use their imaginations to play and create in limitless ways. These toys typically have no specific script, end goal, or outcome. Open-ended toys serve a crucial role in unleashing children’s imagination. By offering no specific instructions, script, or rules, these toys provide a platform for children to use their creativity and generate their own ideas. This form of play leads to innovative and imaginative thinking that will accompany children as they grow up. The results of the study showed that children who played with simple, open-ended toys were more likely to engage in creative play, problem solving, peer interaction, and language development. These types of toys allow children to use their imaginations and come up with their own stories and scenarios, which can enhance their cognitive and social development. For example, a wooden cash register inspired children to engage in role play and conversations about buying and selling. This type of play allows children to practice their communication and negotiation skills and encourages imaginative thinking.
open-ended toys that leave room for imagination and exploration. These types of toys can have a significant impact on a child’s development and provide a rich and enjoyable play experience. By choosing toys that allow children to do the majority of the work and thinking, we can promote their cognitive and social development and provide them with an enjoyable and stimulating play experience. Doll houses, wooden building blocks, action figures, and pretend
food are all examples of open-ended toys. They can be used in a variety of ways and are wonderful at promoting pretend play, expanding language and encouraging social interaction with friends and family. They offer beautiful opportunities for cooperative play and creativity.

Motor Development

Infants assembles motor skills for perceiving and acting. When infants are motivated to do something, they may actually end up creating a new motor behaviour, which could be result of various factors such as – development of nervous system, physical capability and properties of body, environmental support for motor skill in questions, and goal the child motivated to reach. Universal milestones such as reaching an object, crawling, and walking etc are learned through adaptation, where in infants modulate their movement patterns in order to fix the task by exploring and selecting various possible solution and eventually fine-tuning them to accomplish it. When an infant given a toy, no one can exactly tell the infant how to move baby’s arm and finger to grasp the toy and actually hold it. If the baby is in sitting position, they will have to make adjustment to extent the arm and shoulder will have to exert itself in order to put force and improvise ways to reach out to the toy and wrap fingers around it and pick it up. Thus, motor development is not just a passive process based on genetic unfolding of skills over a time, rather, the infants put together various skills to achieve the goal with in the existing limitations of baby’s body and environment

Gross motor skills

Gross motor skills refer to control over actions that help an infant to move around in his/her environment. They
involve large muscle activities, such as moving one’s arms, crawling, standing, and walking. As your baby grows and starts to investigate their surroundings, they develop new skills. Gross motor skills are one set of skills they’ll add to their repertoire of tricks right from the start. Gross motor skills are those skills that involve the whole body — your core muscles (think belly and back) and the muscles of your arms and legs.

Gross motor skills include skills such as:

  • sitting
  • standing
  • walking
  • running
  • jumping
  • lifting (a spoon, a hairbrush, a barbell — they all count)
  • kicking

“The best way to help your child hone their gross motor skills is surrounding them with sufficient opportunity to practice and inspiration to play Adding a few toys to your collection that encourage physical development (and help to keep the climbing to the playground rather than your kitchen counters) can go a long way in helping your little one boost the gross motor skills they need as they grow and develop. “Kids learn through play. It’s what motivates and excites them. There are many toys out there that can facilitate fine and gross motor development”

0–3 months

  • As your baby’s startle reflex fades, you’ll notice that their movements become more voluntary and controlled. With their developing hand-eye coordination, your baby will be able to bat at high contrast toys.
  • When you place your baby on their stomach (you’ll want to schedule plenty of tummy time into their day), you’ll notice them lift their head and chest.

Open ended toys for this age group:

▪ Soft plush toys
▪ Rattles, Baby rattles with different texture
▪ Baby gym
▪ Sensory toys
▪ Mirror Toys
▪ Soft books
▪ Sensory balls

6–9 months

  • At this age, babies start to move. Typically, they’ll start to roll from their back to their side. And then they’ll start to roll all the way over — first from their belly to their back and later from
    their back to their belly.
  • As your baby becomes more mobile, they’ll start sliding around on their tummy to explore. Watch them rising up on their hands and knees to rock back and forth. And then, just when you’re least expecting it, they’ll start to crawl.

Open ended toys for this age group:

▪ Tummy time mates
▪ Squeaky toys
▪ Nesting cups
▪ Stacking rings
▪ Soft toys with different textures
▪ Soft books with interactive features
▪ Soft blocks
▪ Textured balls
▪ Baby safe mirrors

6–9 months

  • At first, your baby will sit with a little bit of help from you. Then, they’ll be able to sit as long as they’re leaning on their hands. And finally, when their back and abdominal muscles get
    stronger, they’ll be able to sit alone.
  • As your baby becomes more mobile, they’ll start sliding around on their tummy to explore. Watch them rising up on their hands and knees to rock back and forth. And then, just when
    you’re least expecting it, they’ll start to crawl.

Open ended toys for this age group:

▪ Musical toys
▪ Stacking cups or rings
▪ Teething toys
▪ Activity gyms
▪ Soft dolls or stuffed animals
▪ Water play toys
▪ Shape sorters

1 year

  • Each time your baby pulls themselves up to stand, they’re working out those leg muscles. Add to this a good dose of coordination and your baby will start taking a few tentative steps — as long as there’s something there to hold on to, like the coffee table or your pants.
  • Your baby has discovered that they can see what’s going on around them much better if they’re sitting up. Watch them sit up alone.

Open ended toys for this age group:

▪ Wooden blocks
▪ Play kitchen set
▪ Shape sorters with more complex design
▪ Large floor puzzles
▪ Art supplies
▪ Large building blocks
▪ Pretend play set
▪ Musical instruments
▪ Sensory bins

2 years

  • Your toddler can not only walk alone pretty well, but they’re also starting to run. Watch out, though — at this stage it’s still easy for them to fall.
  • Hold on to their hand tightly and your child will enjoy the challenge of walking up and down steps.
  • By this stage, your child can jump with both feet.

Open ended toys for this age group

▪ Building blocks
▪ Play dough or modelling clay
▪ Magnetic tiles
▪ Shape or sorters with various shapes and colours
▪ Toy vehicles
▪ Puzzle with larger pieces and simple designs

Activities to encourage gross motor skills in your child

Babies

  • Head position practice. Alternate the side that you position your baby’s head when you lay them down. Left one day; right the next day. This will encourage your baby to lift their head and to strengthen both sides of their neck.
  • Tummy time. Tummy time strengthens your baby’s neck and back muscles. Keep your baby interested by shaking a colourful toy in front of them.
  • Rattle tug. It’s never too early to start building those biceps. Put a rattle in your baby’s hand and tug gently.
  • Sitting your baby up. Prop your little one up to encourage them to develop the motor skills to sit independently. As they’re learning, offer a hand to keep them stable.
  • Sticky notes on the wall. Once your baby can pull themselves up to a wobbly stand, try putting Post it notes on the wall just out of their sitting reach. They’ll delight in pulling themselves up to grab the notes and pull them off the wall.
  • Free movement. Once you’ve babyproofed and created a safe space for baby, spending less time with them in bouncers and jumpers and more time encouraging them to move on their own is best. Try scattering favorite toys around a room and watch them crawl to their treasures.

Toddlers

  • Going for walks. It won’t be as fast as cruising in the stroller, but your new walker needs lots of opportunities to practice walking. Create a safe space in your home for this by childproofing and setting up a play pen. Allow your toddler lots of time to walk around when on a grassy lawn or at the park.
  • Sand play. It may look like child play, but as your child digs, scoops, pours, and sifts, they’re working on their gross motor skills.
  • Create obstacle courses. Set up (safe!) objects around a room so that your toddler needs to duck, crawl, sidestep, reach, pull themselves up and even move items to get from one side to
    the other.

Preschoolers

Gross motor skills are mostly developed early and, as noted above, involve just the large muscle groups. Once your child has those skills in their repertoire, they can add other layers of skill like coordination, muscle development, posture, balance, and more.

Some examples of building upon their gross motor skills include:

  • hopscotch and skipping
  • trampoline jumping
  • swimming
  • playing musical instruments

fine motor skills –

Fine-motor skills are movements that require coordination of the fingers, hands, and wrists to complete everyday tasks. Fine-motor skills require manual dexterity and start to develop
in babies and young children, improving over time with maturity.

fine-motor skills include:

  • Brushing your teeth
  • Writing with a pencil
  • Using a fork or spoon
  • Cutting with a knife or scissors
  • Buttoning a shirt
  • Zipping a zipper
  • Typing
  • Turning a key
  • Turning a doorknob
  • Turning the pages of a book
  • Tying shoelaces

Babies start to develop fine-motor skills at 1 or 2 months old, and they refine fine them and learn new ones as they grow. Advanced fine-motor skills take a longer time to develop, such as those used to
play an instrument or create certain types of art, and can continue to develop into the adult years.1

Children typically accomplish certain fine-motor skills along a predicted timeline with milestones at different ages

2 Months

At 2 months old, a child should be able to do the following:1

  • Open their hand from a closed fist
  • Hold their hands together
  • Hold onto a rattle if placed in their hand

4–6 Months

At 4-6 months old, a child should be able to do the following:1

  • Reach for objects
  • Hold an object placed in the palm of the hand
  • Transfer objects between the mouth and hands
  • Hold their hands together

8 Months

At 8 months old, a child should be able to do the following:1

  • Grasp small objects in their fingers
  • Remove an object from a cup
  • Bang a spoon on a surface

10–12 Months

At 10–12 months old, a child should be able to do the following:1

  • Grasp or pinch an object between the thumb and index finger
  • Throw objects
  • Stir with a spoon

1–2 Years

At 1–2 years old, a child should be able to do the following:1

  • Hold a crayon
  • Scribble
  • Attempt to stack two cubes

Ways to Improve Fine-Motor Skills

You can improve a child’s fine-motor skills by giving them opportunities to do the following:2

  • Put together puzzles
  • Help set the table
  • Draw or scribble
  • Cut with child-safe scissors
  • Open and close containers with lids

Fine motor skills toys are available for kids of all ages, so they can facilitate the improvement of dexterity at every stage of your baby’s development. Toys for fine motor skills improve hand-eye coordination and help with learning how to write, how to play a musical instrument, eat independently, and even how to play different sports. Fine motor skills are an important part of early childhood development, and toys can play a big role in helping children practice these skills. It is important to choose the right toy for each skill, like puzzles or blocks for coordination, playdough for
squeezing and rolling, etc.

“Playing with open-ended toys is an excellent way for children to improve their fine motor skills. As they manipulate and construct with these toys, they refine their dexterity, coordination, and handeye coordination – skills that are essential for various tasks, including writing, typing, and other fine motor-demanding activities.”

Fine Motor Skills your Child Can Learn from the Toys

  • eye-hand coordination
  • pincer grasp
  • tripod grasp
  • separation of the sides of the hand
  • helps with learning to hold a pencil and crayon
  • opposition
  • wrist extension
  • pinch strength and hand strength
  • intrinsic muscle hand strengthening
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