Tag Archives: open ended toys

Stacking Order

A few weeks ago I bought a new toy from Ikea – I love that none of their toys have any connection to movies/TV shows.  Actually, I bought a few toys but only this one has been introduced into the playroom so far.


Yes, we already have a lot of stacking toys but they are not all out at the same time and each has something that makes it a little different from the others.  This one is a ‘lighthouse’ – the older children recognized it right away.  The toddlers don’t know what a lighthouse is so they just think that top blue piece is in the wrong spot. They prefer to put it like this;

LH02Matching it with the other blue one – they don’t care that it doesn’t have an outer tapered edge, colour is more important.

I like the colours too.  Finally a toy that has all the primary and secondary colours and arranges them in colour mixing order – green between yellow and blue, purple between red and blue.  Last year I wrote Colour Hunt about how some colours are left out.

I also like that this stacking toy allows the children to try other arrangements too.  Some stacking rings have a tapered center post which makes it impossible to put the rings on in reverse order.  The younger children get frustrated when they can’t push the smaller rings to bottom of the post.

The older children enjoy arranging this toy ‘backward’ or ‘upside down’.  These are some of the patterns they’ve made with this new toy;


So many options from one simple toy.  I wonder how many more they can discover?


It has been nearly two weeks since I added the pipes to soften the corners of the items attached to the loft.  These pipes have been very popular – the children usually refer to them as some type of ‘machine’.

It has been somewhat difficult to get pictures of the machine ‘in action’ because there are usually so many children crowded around.  I have managed to get a few – here they are using the pipes as a ‘drink machine’;


Which was expanded to include the tubes under the loft too;


We discovered that some of the milk containers are too tall to fit in the space between the floor and the bottom of the vertical pipe.  There was a bit of panic when they realized they couldn’t get the container out of the bottom of the pipe and none of us could reach it from the top either.

After some trial and error we learned that if several smaller containers are inserted into the bottom of the pipe the ‘too tall’ container is  eventually pushed all the way out the top of the pipe.  This was how the ‘elevator’ was invented.  Since then many of the little people toys have taken a ride in the elevator.


Add a bin at the lower end of the diagonal pipe and you’ve got ‘the clean-up machine’;


Sometimes one child will look through the upper end of the diagonal pipe while another child sits under the loft and places various items under the lower end of the pipe.  This creates a microscope/telescope/I Spy game.

It has also been used as a x-ray machine or laser to diagnose and treat injured stuffed animals.  So far I’ve been unable to get a decent picture of the children engaged in this activity – threre is no room for reporters in the emergency room.

Two simple pipes and plenty of open ended creative play 🙂



Removing Mountains

There is a mountain in my yard.  It is the last of the big plastic toys remaining since I began replacing them with more natural, open ended items.  At one time the mountain belonged to my own – now adult – children.  The mountain is about 20 years old;

Small cars are stored in the lid of the mountain and the children occaisionally use the roads and tunnels for driving or parking the cars on.  Back when the mountain used to be an indoor toy that was all it was ever used for.  It took up a lot of space for something that had only one main purpose.  After I moved it outdoors it got used for water and gravel too.

I want to remove the mountain from the yard.  It doesn’t ‘fit’ with the rest of our play space.  We don’t need it. The children drive the cars all over the yard and even build their own roads and bridges with wood and gravel.

They use other – better – tools for moving gravel and water.  I’ve put these pipe halves in the loose parts area for that purpose and the children experiment with them often;

The pipes can accommodate not only cars, gravel, and water but animals as well;

The pipes are not stationary so can be used in various locations as levers to lift and move gravel;

Usually the children need to work together and cooperate to get the result they want;

The other day they tried an Olympic inspired weight lifting event;

Water in the pipes adds another element to expeirment with – and the results are sometimes surprisingly different than when using gravel;

We don’t need that mountain.  I just need to figure out how to remove it from the yard.  I don’t think I can put it in the recycling bin but maybe I’ll put it on the boulevard for the next give away weekend.