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Top 10 Open-Ended Toys for Kids this 2023

9 minute read

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Today’s your child’s birthday. So you want to pick out the best gift there is for your kid, but you’re at a crossroads whether you should get them a toy or not. Why? Because it’s always been this same scenario over and over again: 

You buy them a toy they initially like. Then they spend a few weeks, or even days, playing with it. Then, all of a sudden, they stop playing with the toy. 

So you think "why bother buying them a toy they wouldn’t even play with," right?

Have you ever been in this same position?


Everyone has…


The thing about a child’s interest in toys is that it’s fleeting. Their preference fluctuates and drastically changes. 

In the past, we’ve discussed why toddlers won’t play with their toys and have learned why open-ended toys are the best toys to get children

This class of toys inspires kids’ imagination, pushes them to be creative, and demands their active participation and involvement — that’s why kids rarely stop playing with open-ended toys. And the same reason you should consider buying these toys as gifts for their next birthday.

But what open-ended toys for kids should you get exactly? I’ve tested and reviewed various toys in the past year to see which piqued my children’s interests best, and I’ve listed them down below to help you out!


Here Are The Best Open-ended Toys For Kids This 2023

Top 10 Open-Ended Toys for Kids this 2022 Article Banner

1. The STEMscope Portable Microscope

The STEMscope Portable Microscope

Bugs, flowers, sand, and concrete. 

These are only a few examples of where your kid can use the STEMscope. But there are endless samples and surfaces yet to explore, and the STEMscope is one of the best toys for that matter.

Most parents shy away from the idea of buying children a microscope because it’s commonly an adult device. But the STEMscope is a microscope toy designed with kids in mind: 

Handy and lightweight so your kid can bring it for outdoor explorations and durable enough that I can’t count how many times my kids dropped theirs, but it still works splendidly fine. 

It’s a toy that supports a child’s hunger for adventure and exploration minus the durability issues.


2. Magna-Tiles

Creative toys for kids are the best in bringing out the artist within them. And if you’re looking for one of the best creative-thinking toys, then try Magna-tiles.

Using magnetically-powered color tiles, your child can build any structure or form they can imagine. From castles to spaceships and even animals, all it takes is one spark of imagination, and the stage is theirs for the taking.

If their ideas outgrow the number of tiles they have, you can always count on expansion sets to support their creativity!


3. NatGeo Glowing Marble Run

There are already so many things kids can do with marbles. But add valves, tubes, and slides into the mix, and the possibilities become endless. 

You can say the same thing with this Marble Run set from National Geographic. Let your child unleash their creativity by building tracks to get the marble past the finish line. Not only does this toy stimulate their imagination, but it also teaches kids essential concepts on cause-and-effect and principles of gravity. 

Plus, you also keep their attention occupied for hours, so you can bargain a few moments of silence for yourself.

Harness both your child’s creative nature and critical-thinking skills with Marble Run!


4. Kinetic Sand

If you can’t go to the beach, bring the beach to your kid!

Kinetic sand looks like any other sand you see on beaches, but it’s equipped with a technology that lets kids mold it even without water. 

That means your child can create sandcastles or other sand crafts at home. No more long drives to the beach (although that would be fun every once in a while), and forget about the sunburns because kinetic sand will bring the same sand beach feeling to them!

If you’re looking for non-messy open-ended toys for kids, then this is one good option. The sand sticks together like a magnet, so it’s an easy clean-up after your child’s open-ended play!


5. Walkie Talkies

If you’re someone like me, then you surely dread the idea of exposing your child to screens beyond their recommended screen times

But these days, most kids already have their own devices that they often forget the beauty of enjoying the world before that techno-dependence kick in. 

Walkie talkies are excellent open-ended toys for kids, especially since they mimic phones and work almost exactly like phones minus the screen! Plus, these walkie-talkies can work within a 2-mile radius. So if your kid has friends in the neighborhood, this might not be an investment!


6. Wooden Building Blocks

Kids rarely appreciate battery-operated toys, especially once they’ve discovered all features the toys hide underneath. That’s why we practice a principle called “the simpler, the better” in our household, and this has proven true even for toys.

Wooden building blocks may look bland and dull from the surface. But aside from the microscope, nothing keeps kids more engaged than these toys. 

Your child can build almost anything with them, as long as there are still blocks left unused. Plus, wood tends to last longer than plastic, so that’s another thing to consider.


7. Rainbow Stacking Toys

Want to upgrade their wooden blocks building kit? Try rainbow stack toys

Although, admittedly, I was having second thoughts about getting these toys because they’re bizarre-looking. But there’s no such thing if kids enjoy playing and building with it.

Your child can build just as many unique structures using the rainbow stacks. They can create anything, from a Christmas tree to a strangely-designed building that reminds me of how Picasso paintings look.

What matters is that kids have fun, and they learn along the process!


8. Wooden Building Planks

If rainbow-shaped stackable wood does not appeal to them, then try wooden planks.  

Wooden planks are just as sturdy and durable as their blocky counterpart but a bit more challenging to use in building structures. So these are perfect for experienced children in playing with wooden blocks and rainbow stacks!

Worry not, they made sure to smoothen out the edges to avoid injuries from splinters or pointy corners. 

Although I suggest that audiences around 7 and above play with these wooden planks as they have more mastery of fine and gross motor skills than younger ones—still one of the best open-ended toys for kids in my experience.


9. Sleeping Queens

Card games are not only for Christmas game nights but are great family bonding activities at any given time!

There are countless open-ended card games out there, but nothing is as fun, creative, and kid-friendly as Sleeping Queens. The mechanics are simple — wake the queen up with the king but avoid knights and dragons and potions that keep them asleep.

Overwhelming? Well, it might sound not very easy at first, but a young child did develop this game, so it is literally made with kids in mind.

It’s one of the most fantastic open-ended toys for kids that even the whole family can enjoy!


10. No-Battery Action Figures

Action figures are not necessarily bad toys. Remember that open-ended play is about children using their imagination when playing, and action figures also fit that description!

Although I highly suggest that you steer clear from those toys that light up, move on their own, and use batteries because they’re fragile and they're only supposed to work as the instructions indicate.

No battery action figures are toys that stimulate your kid’s imagination best. And having no batteries means that the power travels from your child's imaginative interests down to the toy, not the other way around. 

Here are some gender-neutral action figures you can check out:


Terra by Battat – Jungle World

SHARK WEEK Discovery Deep Ocean Explorer

Beverly Hills Doll Collection




Are open-ended toys better than other classes of toys?

Yes, open-ended toys are better because they stimulate a child’s imagination as they play along. Unlike open-ended toys, other battery-operated toys that come with their own set of functions leave no room for a child’s creativity to shine through. Open-ended toys harness children’s imagination and support their hunger for discovery.


Is Lego an open-ended toy?

Yes, Lego is considered an open-ended toy. Using the Lego bricks, children can make all sorts of structures out of their imagination. There are limitless possibilities on how to use Lego bricks and what kids make out of them lies entirely in their hands. That’s what makes Legos open-ended.


Why is a microscope toy considered open-ended?

Although microscopes only function one-way: you peek through the lens to see stuff magnified, there is an infinite number of samples, specimens, or surfaces to try them on. In this case, the open-ended nature is not on the microscope itself but where you will use it for. 


What’s the best open-ended toy in town?

The best open-ended toys for kids are always the ones that pique a child's interest the most. But in my experience, the best all-arounder is the STEMscope portable microscope

My kids tend to use it indoors along with the dedicated, prepared microscope slides. But they never forget to bring the microscope along whenever we have our outdoor adventures. It's child-friendly, easy-to-use, and the universe is large enough for more young adventurers to explore.

I recommend that you get your child to use this open-ended toy out and see their reactions. Don’t worry. With our 90-day science kid guarantee, your child has 90 days to try the STEMscope, and if they don’t like it, you can return the product to us, and we’ll remit your money back to you. 

Visit the STEMscope and our complete toy catalog now!

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