Top 10 open-ended toys perfect for bath time.

Why use open-ended toys during bath time?


Open-ended play is so amazing in so many ways!


It encourages experimentation and perseverance and keeps your children busy and being creative for hours.


In this guide we will dive in to how you can more of it in your lives.

What is open-ended play?


"Open-ended play allows children to express themselves in play freely and creatively, not bound by present limitations" Joe L. Frost.


There are no rules to follow, no expectations, no specific problems to solve, and no pressure to produce a finish product when engaging freely in open-ended play.


Why is open-ended play so important?


There are so many benefits to open-ended play. Imagination is enhanced, and the ability to symbolically and abstractly builds creativity and intelligence.


The creative nature of open-ended play also enhances cognitive skills, such as working memory, cognitive flexibility and cognitive self-regulation.


Open-ended play activities have been found to be related to ideational fluency which allows children to be able to be have more divergent reasoning and a greater variety when interacting with materials and others.


So what are the TOP 10 open-ended toys?

  • Foam Blocks

Right from newborns to preschoolers, all kids enjoy playing with blocks, the only difference being their changing perception with respect to their age. Babies love to hold blocks and bang them together. This initiates a development of their sensory organs by allowing them to feel the texture of the blocks and recognize their unique sounds.


Toddlers develop more muscle control, and learn to combine, stack, and line up the blocks. They also begin to develop their thinking ability through toy blocks. They attempt to build basic structures by combining the blocks together, which starts developing their thought process and imaginative skills. This is the time when they start displaying their creativity and imagination.


Furthermore, preschoolers begin to understand the intricacy of the blocks, and how they fit into each other in different ways. This helps them construct more elaborate and complex structures, while improving their skills even more.

Every child is unique, and he possesses unique imaginative skills. You may think that creating structures out of wooden and plastic cubes is fairly mechanical, and it can only indicate that the child may develop good logical skills in the future. However, there is a flip side to it that you might not have noticed so far. If you observe a group of kids playing with toy blocks, and try to converse with them, you will notice that even though they are kids, they have amazingly big ideas and plans for their construction.


Moreover, psychologists have categorized problems in two major ways―convergent problems and divergent problems. In this context, since kids can put the blocks together creatively in a variety of ways, the block play is considered as a divergent play. The diverging property of the play prepares kids to think creatively, and develops the skill of solving divergent problems easily.

  • Pipe block bricks

Pipe block bricks are described as construction play


Constructive play develops a vast range of skills and behaviours, including;

  • The physical skills (both fine and gross motor) necessary to manipulate and control the chosen toy or material,

  • Problem solving skills,

  • Flexible thinking skills,

  • The ability to plan the use of materials to see a design idea become a reality,

  • The ability to test ideas,

  • Perseverance in the face of construction challenges

Children should be encouraged to fully explore and enjoy constructive play for all of the fabulous developmental opportunities it offers, and, according to Piaget, as an important stage of play in and of itself.

  • Silicone Suction cup suckers

As above these provide hours of creative play.


The suction cups will stick virtually to any flat surface which enables a child to stack, link and build interesting shapes and structures using their thinking skills.


  • Silicone Rainbow stackers

These open-ended toys are a popular in Montessori toy. They are beautiful to look at and are meant to be played, stacked and used in different ways.


They are a toy that need to be manipulated by the child in creative ways to be played with. They can serve multiple purpose for different play so they often get used the most for longer no matter the age.


They can go beyond simply stacking and nesting, but rather travels to the depths of our children’s imagination. From houses, to buildings and structures, the colorful pieces can be used in near endless possibilities.

There are no right or wrong ways to play with these wonderful toys. The rainbow stackers offers a plethora of wide imagination and ways on how to play with them, not to mention plenty of benefits too. Your children can enjoy playing with them in a number of ways and improve on:

Sensorial Skill & Language Development

Hand-eye Coordination

Fine Motor Skills

Creative Play


  • Silicone stacking stones/pebbles

As like the above, these stacking stones can be used to stimulate a child’s imagination and look for patterns in the stones themselves and the shapes made and of course be used in creative play.


  • Silicone geometric shapes

Learning about shapes from a very early age is very important and why not continue the learning opportunity in the bath and what amazing creations with a combination of different shapes and sizes can they come up with?


There 5 main reasons for this:

Same or different - Are these two objects the same or different? This is the start of basic observation skills.

Categorization - What makes a circle different from a square? This is detailed recognition of traits objects have.

Problem solving and spatial relations - Shapes are a great way to introduce problem-solving skills.

Math skill - Geometry is in part the study of shapes. Having a basic understanding of them from a young age will make learning math a lot easier for children.

Letter recognition - Understanding what shapes are and that they have meaning starts to build literacy. Practicing distinguishing between a square and a triangle help kids recognize between different letters.



  • Snowflake bricks

When children pick up these flakes, they can assemble them into various models! Young ones will find themselves stacking and connecting these colorful flakes to create everything and anything they like. From trees to animals to vehicles - you name it! This toy improves the coordination and dexterity of young children! Let's keep both their minds and bodies active!


A great substitute and addition to building blocks: Personalize your snowflake toy by shaping it into a geometric figure rather than typical shapes. Connect those angular edges to create open-ended designs.Snap blocks together to build them up and let kids’ innovation and creativity shine for hours to come.

  • Matryoshka Doll

Nesting dolls are popular with preschoolers who can continue to benefit from the fine-motor coordination, concentration, and sense of order developed through work with nesting dolls.


These little cute bears (dolls) can be used as part of the play using the other toys that we already have discussed.

  • Squishy toys/figurines

Having a bath time buddy in the water with your child will be transformed in to so many possible scenarios:

They are having a picnic

Playing roles of mummy and daddy

A new baby in the home

Taking care of them - they are sick or upset

They are saving the world

They are building their under water city

and so on.


  • Silk scarves

These rainbow coloured scarfs really sparks the imagination. They are used in pretend play and made into skirts and capes, to hide things under, to colour sort, to play peak-a-boo with and I also could go on with these too.


Words of wisdom


Let your child take the lead. Take a step back and observe rather than taking charge or setting your expectations.


Allow mistakes and "oopsies" to happen. Their time playing in the water should enable them to explore and investigate ways themselves.


The ownership of fixing something is on them not you. Try not to give them the "right way" of doing it.


If they do require help or you they do want to keep going but get a little stuck with momentum, try to encourage them to solve it themselves first. Open-ended questions are really useful because they have to think about the answer.


Have the camera at the ready to snap their master pieces as it more than likely that the creation they have just put so much effort in will not be the same during their next experiment.


So as you can see from these 10 different toys that offer open ended fun are essential to a child’s early development. These toys allow little children to understand the world and the things around them. They also allow them to use their imagination and creative thinking. Most of these toys also provide opportunities for little ones to learn basic problem solving and develop their senses.


I have done the thinking for you:


EPIC Bath Boxes have different toys and items that have been purposefully chosen depending on your child's developmental stages to enhance their experience during bath time and water play. Bath time is perfect to broaden a learning opportunity whilst your child is engaged and enjoying themselves.


EPIC stands for explore, play, investigate and create.


For more information click here.

Hi, I am Helen Hughes co-founder of Mini Water Adventurers. I have been a swimming teacher for over 25 years and a play-based swim school owner for over 15 years. I have taught thousands of children to swim and after hanging up my goggles this year I have decided to focus on bringing you all the useful online resources for all your "watery" needs - whether it bath time activities or ideas to help with water confidence and acclimation.

Call me "Aqua woman" haha ;-)



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