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Unstructured Play

I’m obsessed with the concept of play.

I love watching my toddlers play- it’s so fun to see the way they engage and create using their toys. But if we’re being honest here, I don’t actually enjoy playing WITH my kids. Sometimes I feel a little guilty that I’m not the mom on the floor playing dinosaurs but guess what?! Kids actually NEED unstructured, independent play time- and that is definitely something I can get behind.

According to the Playground Centre, unstructured play is entirely open-ended with no set end goal. Free play encourages creativity, imagination, empathy and allows kids to enjoy freedom and control. Unstructured play teaches out of the box problem solving skills.

How can you set your kids up for meaningful unstructured play experiences? 

Blocks are kind of the ultimate in free play toys. This large set from Haba is a beautiful natural color and is heirloom quality meaning it can even stand up to a rough and tumble toddler. Kids can build towers, castles, cities… truly whatever comes to mind and a good set of blocks provides endless options.

Want to get outside?

A playground provides an opportunity for unstructured play and lots of movement. Kids can get creative- imagining that the play structure is a pirate ship or a treehouse and create their own games. Added bonus- playgrounds are great for developing gross motor skills- the big movements we make with our bodies like running, jumping and climbing. 

Art kits are another great way to encourage creative unstructured play. For this type of play, look for kits that include a set of art tools that can be used to create whatever design your child dreams up. This set from Bright Stripes for elementary through high school kids includes dreamy creamy watercolor pastels and ink pens as well as some blank paper for projects. I love it because the tools are not something kids see every day and they’ll be excited to engage with something new to create elevated artwork.  

Need help finding more unstructured play activities for your kids?

We’re happy to help in store or send us a quick message at and we’ll send over some suggestions.