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We’re All Striving for Open-Ended Sensory Play and This Toy Is the Holy Grail

Psst, You’ll Even Love It for Yourself

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Spin Master/Digital Art by Dasha Burobina

In today’s world, it’s extremely easy to rely on screens and electronics to keep children content. Because how else are you going to get dinner on the table at a somewhat reasonable time? But, if you’re like us, you try to not depend on them too heavily. So, what else do you do then? According to the experts, encourage open-ended play with your children. Let us explain.

What Is Open-Ended Play?

It’s exactly what it sounds like: open-ended, as in a type of play that has no direction, limitation or rules. Children are encouraged to use their imagination without worrying “if they’re doing it right.” Most importantly, open-ended play should be done in a safe space with indirect adult supervision or interference.

Experts agree: This type of play is essential for kids of all ages, but it’s especially beneficial for those who are five and under since that’s the age when significant brain development is happening. Some benefits include learning skills, creativity, fine and gross motor skills, problem-solving, social-emotional development and more. The best part? Open-ended play can happen just about anywhere, whether you’re at home, on the playground or traveling on vacation.

How Do I Encourage Open-Ended Play?

Easy! Start with open-ended toys. Dr. Amanda Gummer, child development expert and founder of The Good Play Guide, highly endorses Kinetic Sand (which has been tested by children as well) as it provides endless hours of fun. “In a world filled with screens and digital entertainment, Kinetic Sand provides a hands-on, screen-free play experience that fosters crucial developmental skills while keeping children engaged, curious, and creatively inspired,” she says.

A fair warning: If you’ve never experienced Kinetic Sand, be prepared to love it just as much as your children—it’s that mesmerizing. There are so many ways to play with it: smush, squish, mix, flow, slice, cut, pull… Better yet, Kinetic Sand sticks to itself for easy clean-up (yes, a game-changer) and with proper storage, it’ll never dry out so it can be used over and over.

“Kinetic Sand’s texture and malleability make it an ideal tool for sensory play. This type of play supports children’s cognitive development by helping them understand different textures, shapes and even concepts like cause and effect,” Dr. Gummer says. She also recommends it as it “promotes relaxation and mindfulness, making it a wonderful tool for calming moments.”

All that’s left to do is sit back and watch your child’s imagination unfold.

Shop Kinetic Sand

kinetic sand sand castle set blue
Spin Master

If you are in the New York, Atlanta or Chicago areas, stop by the Sloomoo Institute where kids can get their hands in the sand. Enjoy custom Kinetic Sand Doons at the experiential destination that taps into the joy of multi-sensory play.


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Operations Director, Branded Content

Rachel joined PureWow in 2016 and is the Operations Director of Branded Content where she oversees the editorial production of sponsored content campaigns. In addition to...