Playchoice's ultimate activity book collection Download activity book

Best wooden open-ended toys: 10 sets you definitely don't know yet

I enjoy writing these articles for my readers, you guys. I don't accept payment for writing reviews, my opinion on products is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something through one of the links I may be able to receive a commission on that. More Information

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Open end toys often keeps them playing the longest. They can try everything and often combine it.

For instance these rainbows from Grimm's. Extremely sturdy wood and great to try anything with. You can stack them, they can serve as bridges or tunnels, and as a background for any imaginative doll play.

In this guide I have found the 10 best wooden open-ended toys for you and tell you what to look for when purchasing.

Best wooden open ended toys

Let's take a quick look at the top picks. Then I go into more detail about each option.

Overall best wooden open ended toy

Grimm'sRainbow Bows

Grimm's is the inventor and maker of the original rainbow stackers. It is made of very strong wood and you can feel it.

Product image

Wooden open ended transport toy

BigJigsAlpine train set (BJT016)

The train track is a fun challenge to assemble and with the help of supporting pillars, the rails even go up. Very spectacular!

Product image

Most creative open-ended toy

Small footPirate Hammer Art

Pirates and their wooden and cardboard accessories hammer on a cork board. Very nice to make creative scenes.

Product image

Best open ended role play toys

Melissa & DougFold and Go Dollhouse

The house has two floors and is painted in a delicate complexion. Very stylish and with many windows with shutters.

Product image

Best wooden open ended magnet blocks

Tegu42 Wooden Set

You spend a little more on these blocks, but playing with real wood gives a hand feel that plastic will never be able to give your child.

Product image

Best cheap wooden open ended toys

Melissa & DougBuilding Blocks 100 Pieces

Let your child use their imagination with colorful wooden blocks in all kinds of shapes. Completely open-ended style.

Product image

Best wooden open-ended toy for gross motor skills

Children's partiesChildren's board Natural

Balancing is a fantastic way to stimulate children's physical and mental development, but also offers countless play opportunities.

Product image

Best wooden open ended toy animals

OstheimerWood Carved Waldorf Animals

It doesn't get much better than Ostheimer's hand-carved animals. It is a Waldorf toy par excellence.

Product image

Best open ended chalkboard

Hapeago

The Hape easel is very sturdy and made of wood. With the double-sided construction you have a magnetic whiteboard and a chalkboard.

Product image

Best open ended vehicle

New Classic ToysCity Tour Bus

Although this is a specific car (tour bus) it is still one of the best open ended sets I have seen because the tour bus can go anywhere.

Product image

A play theme in your mailbox every month?

Fun play tips, activity books and more, with the first email being our free mini-guide "educational toys"

We will only use your email address for this newsletter and respect your privacy

Wooden open ended toy buying guide

Open-ended toys become the most fun from 2,5 years. When your child can indulge in creative play.

When judging these sets, I mainly looked at age.

Age

It should be fun and challenging for their developmental stage, but also safe enough for small children to play with. You don't want them to be able to swallow small pieces.

For example, with the New Classic Toys Tour Bus you want to stay with it for a while when they are still putting things in their mouths.

The large building blocks from Melissa & Doug are already suitable for the smallest children and those from Tegu for slightly older ones.

And Ostheimer's beautiful animals can also participate in open-ended play at virtually any age.

Here they are all arranged by the most appropriate age.

blue blue Age fromYellow Yellow Best ageGreen Green Age to

Open end

The second point I've looked at is how much open-ended it can be played with. Can they endlessly discover the toy and use it in different ways?

Open ended means there are no prescribed rules for using it. For example, the Tour Bus from New Classic Toys is already a Tour Bus, not another kind of car.

But because he can go anywhere on the tour and the wooden dolls can also be used for anything, it is still a beautiful open-ended toy.

The arches from Grimm's and the balance board from Kinderfeets are not only for building or balancing, but can also participate in all sorts of games like bridges and tunnels and whatever else they can think of.

Each toy is rated open ended from 1 to 5 points.

Replayability

How nice is it to grab the toy again and again. Much of this is due to the open-ended nature of the toy, so that's a good thing with the options on this list.

But also, how many different things can you do with it and how much creativity can you put into it.

It is also important whether you can play without friction. Things that just don't work well, for example. For example, the driver of the New Classic Toys bus cannot get out. You can't do EVERYTHING you want.

Each toy is also rated for replayability.

Sustainability

When they have a favorite toy how long will it last? That is why I have also assessed all toys for durability.

From the sturdy wood, to the weak spots in the construction as attachment points.

Top 10 Wooden Open End Toys Reviewed

All a bit of a shame that my son with 3 has the most fun to knock over my constructions :)

Overall best wooden open ended toy

Grimm's Rainbow Bows

Product image
9.5
Toy score
Open end
5.0
Replayable
4.3
Sustainability
4.9
Best for
  • Great natural wood that you feel when playing
  • Challenging toys that stimulate creativity
Less good
  • Expensive, very very expensive

Grimm's is the inventor and maker of the original rainbow stackers. It is made of very strong wood and you can feel it.

It is pricey though. Very pricey. But it's good wood and you can feel the wood through the paint. This helps with children's sensory experience.

This is very important with Montessori and Waldorf toys. When you go for a cheap copy of the Grimm's rainbow, you almost only feel paint on cheap wood.

Sure you can have a lot of fun with that too, but it lacks the Montessori part of the toy.

In addition, the raw wood helps when stacking the bows, because that is still quite a challenge.

It's so simple and so difficult at the same time. You can get really creative with just a few bows. Who would have thought that?

A few examples will get you a long way, but the best thing is to come up with things yourself.

Grimm's bows stacked

It is suitable from 3 years, and the best I think from 4 to 7.

Wooden open ended transport toy

BigJigs Alpine train set (BJT016)

Product image
8.9
Toy score
Open end
4.4
Replayable
4.8
Sustainability
4.1
Best for
  • The train is right on a slope to drive down
  • Very nice details for the landscape
  • big set
Less good
  • Pricey
  • Higher rails on supports are not for the little ones

The beautiful Bigjigs Alpen train set is a good choice anyway, and our top recommendation.

Bigjigs makes very good quality, and what makes this set extra beautiful is the possibility to expand it endlessly.

Your child will not get tired of it and the toy set also lasts a long time.

This extensive train set is suitable for children aged 4 and over; there are a lot of detailed parts included.

The train track is a fun challenge to assemble and with the help of supporting pillars the rails even go up high.

Very spectacular, the train travels through mountains, valleys and over bridges!

A set to enjoy for a long time, ideal as a first train set for a child, and expandable with rails by means of the BigJigs Rails Expansion Set.

All other Bigjigs train sets fit in seamlessly with it. How about a Dino Train Set with its matching T-Rex tunnel?

It is very educational and very comprehensive because the train travels through different landscapes to the next station. Mountains, forest and village all come along, it is therefore a long train tracks.

And along the way, your child will not only encounter traffic signs, but also figures in various professions and vehicles.

What a pleasure to play with this train that travels over mountains and valleys!

Usually a train set only becomes fun when you buy more of it so that you can actually make some different tracks, but the Alpen set is already quite extensive.

Furthermore, Bigjigs has a lot of fun, and sometimes special (such as a pirate ship wreck, or a dinosaur), expansions that you can connect to it.

Or a pink-purple princess train set, with a bright pink bridge and a purple and pink gate to drive under: houses, trees and even a cool pink helicopter!

Give your creativity free rein and build the whole room with your child with this beautiful train set!

Most creative open-ended toy

Small foot Pirate Hammer Art

Product image
8.1
Toy score
Open end
3.9
Replayable
4.1
Sustainability
4.2
Best for
  • Hammering is done nicely and the wood is sturdy
  • Many objects to come up with creative things
Less good
  • Plate is very small

Maybe more of a creative game than a hammer game, but it's a lot of fun to do and hammering straight is also fun for kids.

You have to hammer pirates and their accessories from wood and cardboard onto a cork board. Very fun to do and you can make a lot of creative scenes.

It is really hammering and therefore suitable for children from 6 years.

Some parents give it to younger children, but they can hammer their hands.

There are 4 examples included so you can get through them quickly. But it's also just as fun to come up with things yourself. You could also add commands for them to perform.

A big minus is the cork board. Not really big enough to lay out everything you can think of and even making the examples is very difficult.

Still a very nice set that can keep them busy for quite a few creative hours.

Best open ended role play toys

Melissa & Doug Fold and Go Dollhouse

Product image
8.5
Toy score
Open end
4.1
Replayable
4.2
Sustainability
4.4
Best for
  • Many accessories in a handy carrying format
  • Sturdy wooden construction
Less good
  • No closure on the house so that it falls open

This beautiful, fold-out Melissa & Doug Wooden Dollhouse is suitable for children from three years old.

The house has two floors and is painted in a delicate complexion. Very stylish and with many windows with shutters.

There are a lot of accessories such as a sofa, easy chair, cupboard, bed and a TV furniture. Plus 2 dolls to play with.

The folding construction and the sturdy carrying handle make it a very handy set to take with you. Only a closure is missing from the house so that it remains closed.

Now you have to wear it very hard or make a closure on it yourself.

Melissa & Doug dollhouse unfolded

A very nice set that they can play with for a long time.

Best wooden open ended magnet blocks

Tegu 42 Wooden Set

Product image
8.7
Toy score
Open end
4.1
Replayable
4.8
Sustainability
4.1
Best for
  • Sustainable wooden toys
  • Sturdy magnets
  • Wheels in the set give more to do
Less good
  • Very pricey

Tegu is a responsible brand that makes its wooden toys in Honduras from sustainable wood.

The toy is therefore also naturally safe without plastic, BPA and with water-based paint.

You spend a little more on these blocks, but playing with real wood gives a hand feel that plastic will never be able to give your child.

Is that worth the extra money than, say, the cheap Pixio? I think so. It is good for your child to play closer to nature.

Tegu is one of the few brands that treats the planet in such a responsible way while also bringing modern toys to the market, such as magnetic building blocks.

This set has blocks in different shapes and the slats also ensure that you can do a lot more.

For example, you can make perfect house constructions, or a real race car:

Race car from magnetic tegu blocks

It is by far the best set in this list, but you pay a higher price for it.

Best cheap wooden open ended toys

Melissa & Doug Building Blocks 100 Pieces

Product image
8.9
Toy score
Open end
4.3
Replayable
4.5
Sustainability
4.5
Best for
  • Sturdy wooden blocks
  • Can participate in many open-ended games
  • A lot for little money
Less good
  • Quickly falls over during intense fantasy play

With Melissa & Doug wooden blocks you can build small things. A beautiful house or perhaps a beautiful castle, a fast train or a large car!

Let your little one use his or her imagination. The colorful wooden blocks come in all kinds of shapes and have different colors. Completely open-ended style.

The set is suitable for children from 18 months. A bit younger than Tegu's magnetic blocks. It's also a little more open-ended because you're not tied to the pieces being able to "stick" together.

Best wooden open-ended toy for gross motor skills

Children's parties Children's board Natural

Product image
8.7
Toy score
Open end
3.9
Replayable
4.4
Sustainability
4.7
Best for
  • Sturdy wooden construction
  • Can be used in many different ways
  • Stimulates gross motor skills
Less good
  • Quite pricey
  • Great for lots of pretend play

Even before they can use it as a balance board, it's great for open-ended play. This way it can serve as a bridge or tunnel, just like with the Grimm's rainbows.

But if they get a little older, he can also stimulate gross motor skills.

Kinderfeets uses ecologically friendly stains and lacquers to color the balance board. These are more expensive than solvent based alternatives.

This balance board is comparable to the worldwide known Wobbel balance board: it has the same quality, but at a cheaper price than a Wobbel!

This Kinderfeets balance board is designed in the Netherlands, available in 12 different colors from natural to rainbow.

Balancing on a balance board is a fantastic way to stimulate the physical and mental development of children and offers countless play options for toddlers to adults.

Plus this balance board can bear a weight of up to 220 kg!

The paint that the board is lacquered with is water-based and can therefore be used both indoors and outdoors in the rain.

A perfect purchase if your budget plays an important role and the brand of the balance board makes no difference to you.

Suitable from 18 months to make first discoveries and the best from 3 years.

Best wooden open ended toy animals

Ostheimer Wood Carved Waldorf Animals

Product image
9.1
Toy score
Open end
4.7
Replayable
3.9
Sustainability
5.0
Best for
  • Super durable wood will last a lifetime
  • Very well finished and safe
Less good
  • Super expensive

It doesn't get much better than Ostheimer's hand-carved animals. It is a Waldorf toy par excellence.

Very well finished and durable wood. These will last a lifetime. Well, several lives actually.

It is very pricey, especially if you want to buy several animals, so that is something to take into account.

I also have cheaper sets on this list, such as the Melissa & Doug wagon. But a list of wooden zoo toys just can't be complete without these beautiful creations from Ostheimer.

Lees meer: these are 20 toy brands that put sustainable wood first

Best open ended chalkboard

Hape ago

Product image
8.7
Toy score
Open end
3.9
Replayable
4.6
Sustainability
4.5
Best for
  • Sturdy construction
  • Many activities and accessories
Less good
  • Takes up a lot of space

A blackboard or "easel" is useful for hanging your other magnet toys. But of course it should also be possible to do more.

You must be able to chalk, draw, paint, and much more.

The Hape easel is very sturdy and made of wood. With the double-sided construction you have a magnetic whiteboard and a chalkboard.

The paper roll on top is also a nice addition, but I was a bit worried that it would run out quickly. But luckily you can buy these types of rolls everywhere and standard sizes just fit.

In addition, it is adjustable in height from 37,5 to 43,5 inches (95 to 110 cm) so that young children can also reach it and it can grow with it.

Hape is a good wooden toy brand and this donkey is really sturdy again.

He will be fun from 3 years old.

Best open ended vehicle

New Classic Toys City Tour Bus

Product image
8.8
Toy score
Open end
4.3
Replayable
4.5
Sustainability
4.4
Best for
  • Sturdy bus and wooden figures for multiple games
  • Great open ended toys as they can go anywhere
Less good
  • Quite pricey

Toy cars are already open-ended toys. You can come up with 100 different games with it. Especially if they do not have a specific function such as police cars or the fire brigade.

Although this is a specific car (tour bus) it is still one of the best open ended sets I have seen.

This is because the tour bus can go anywhere. Nothing stands in the way of the dolls to go to the farm, park, dino land or the toy city.

Because the dolls are kept nice and simple, they can also represent anything. So you actually get two playing options in one.

The color of the bus is nice and bright and it is suitable from 1,5 years.

Conclusion

All of these sets will encourage lots of open-ended play in a safe and sustainable way. What will your next toy be?

Also read: this is the best toy for toddlers and preschoolers if you are looking for wood

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Speelkeuze.nl is a content marketer, father and loves trying out new toys. As a child he came into contact with everything related to games when his mother started the Tinnen Soldaat in Ede. Now he and his team create helpful blog articles to help loyal readers with fun play ideas.