What is the difference between close-ended toys and open-ended toys and how can they be utilized in play intervention?
The two types of toys are close-ended toys and open-ended toys. Close-ended toys have a clear ending point and include toys such as shape sorters, puzzles, book, etc. For example, once all of the puzzle pieces are assembled, the child is finished and moves on to the next activity. Of course, the child can play with the toy again but typically they finish and move on. Close-ended toys are good for building attention. The child can work on the puzzle, for example, and the SLP (or family member) can encourage them to finish before moving on to the next activity. Close-ended toys also help with task completion. If the child starts to lose interest, you can encourage the family member to help the child complete the task and then they can move on to the next activity.
One disadvantage is that it can be challenging to promote language because of the limitations in word choices and interactions with these types of toys. However, they still have a great purpose, especially for children who have difficulty with task completion.
Open-ended toys are the opposite of close-ended toys in that they do not have a definite ending point. These are toys such as doll houses, play food, blocks, buildings, cars and action figures. They can be used in many different ways and really promote pretend play, expand language and encourage interaction with others. Open-ended toys tend to promote more social play and encourage creativity.
For intervention purposes, it is important to choose toys that are based on a child’s developmental level and are appropriate for their communication goals. It is also important to discuss with the family that there should be a balance of close-ended and open-ended toys. Both types of toys have their benefits so it is beneficial for the child to have both available to them.