Why You Don’t Need a Grimm’s Rainbow to Foster Open Ended Play

There, I said it. You do not need a Grimm’s rainbow to be open ended. You don’t need a Grimm’s rainbow to start your wooden toy collection. You don’t need a Grimm’s rainbow to be Waldorf inspired.

Seriously, you don’t!

I know! Sacrilegious. How dare Preeti say don’t buy a Grimm’s rainbow stacker! Everybody says I NEED one for open end play. Everyone recommends the rainbow as one of the first toys when switching over to wooden toys, and yet you don’t want me to buy one?

It does sound crazy. To me, a Grimm’s rainbow is beautiful for building. It is beautiful for open ended play. It is gorgeous on a shelf of toys. But a Grimm’s rainbow is not the easiest to use or master for the youngest children.

The Grimm’s rainbow requires thinking and some parent-led invitation to show it’s potential. The rainbow is therefore not the first piece I recommend when purchasing open ended toys. This is even more important for families switching their play style from passive play (sometimes known as battery operated play) to free play.

A rainbow stacker is not a toy to give to a child accustomed to battery operated passive play, and say “here kiddo, have fun building.” The child will have fun building the stacker and rocking the pieces, but they may not do much more. And then you might be disappointed to have spent $100 on a toy that isn’t the favorite for your child.

Instead, I recommend free play toys that children can do themselves. Blocks, vehicles, wood dolls or small plush dolls, play kitchen utensils and wood/felt food. You child can automatically play with them and not feel limited.

What toys to buy? That is another post of possibilities. But quickly, I recommend kitchen items like food, pots and pans, and serving. Blocks and building. Art supplies. Large and small dolls. Nesting boxes and bowls. All are better options to start with than a rainbow.

Once you and your children are having a blast with open play, introduce the rainbow. Show the possibilities of the rainbow. Don’t let it be an accoutrement to the toy shelf, let the rainbow shine on its own.

When it comes to buying rainbows, I recommend: Grimm’s Wooden Toys (in US | Canada), Ocamora, Raduga Grez and Etsy shops that build deep AND wide rainbows (few shops – Orlando Wooden Toys, Sensory Play, Heirloom Rainbow Co, Wren & Mae Creations). Stacking a one inch thick rainbow is pointless. You need a 2.5-3.5in thick (about 6-8cm thick) rainbow to do fun things.

Don’t be pressured. A rainbow may appear in your collection, or not. Whatever your children do, let them play.

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