Open Ended Play for Kids Inspired by Rainbow-Colored Wooden Apples and Buckets

My four-year-old and her friend Emily surprised me by playing for hours with some little wooden apple sand rainbow buckets.

They sorted them, carried them, “ate” them, fed them to their (stuffed) animals, danced with them, created games around them, brought them along in the car and giggled about what silly things Maia might do with them when we picked her up, hid them, found them, and carried (pretend) water in the buckets.

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I could have encouraged them to count or sort the apples (they did the latter anyway) or play a game with the apples, but I didn’t.

I just set the apples and buckets out on the table. An invitation to play. Didn’t even mention them.

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It wasn’t long before Emily and Daphne discovered the apples and buckets…

(The wild looking one with the post-braid frizz hair is mine, of course.)

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…sorted the apples into their color-coded buckets…

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…and were off! Easily and joyfully incorporating their find into their ongoing imaginative play.

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They took turns playing music on the keyboard and dancing with the buckets of apples (I didn’t quite understand why, but that’s not the point, is it?).

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Another time I might bring out the color die I also ordered and introduce a more structured game with the wooden apples and buckets. But not this time. Their imagination was the only foil these simple, colorful props needed for an afternoon of pretend play.

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