My five kids have great imaginations! They are constantly playing. We live in the world of Pokemons and Castles and the great Outdoors. These are truly my kids’ favorite games. After school, I watch as my children go on Pokemon journeys, while they are doing their chores. Or I’ll watch them play Knights and Ladies, and fight off dragons and monsters. These games have plot lines as intricate as movies. Sometimes, I even have to make sure my children stop playing in their imaginations so that they will engage in reality. Imaginative play is such a part of the fabric of our family that I thought I’d gather some imaginative play tips and resources to have on hand, and to share.
But, one of my favorite times of the day is when the older kids are in school because then I get to engage in play with my preschooler and toddler. Also, my Kindergartner is only in half-day Kindergarten, so I get to play with him as well. I want my younger children have the opportunity to direct the stories, because while they are often the willing participants, they don’t often get to lead the games. I want to encourage this imaginative play. Imaginative play is so important to children’s growing sense of self and understanding of the world. Here are some of the activities that my younger children did with me recently.
Acting out a Book
I love reading with my kids. Recently, we read the book, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” Afterwards, my preschooler wanted to act out the book. So, of course, we did. She gathered all of the food from our play kitchen to use as props. Then she decided to be the sky, raining the food down on my toddler and me. We had storms of chips, fruit, and chicken legs. We started by mimicking the story line in the book, but then she took over the story telling and created a fantastic new story. She directed the play, and I willingly went along with what she imagined. She loved that Mommy was playing the game with her and letting her be completely in control of the entire situation.
Another activity that my preschooler enjoys is pretending. She loves to pretend to be a bird. I’ll be folding my loads of laundry for the day, and she’ll ask to be buried. Then, she’ll pretend to be a bird hatching from an egg. The clothes are the egg, and as I fold the clothes, she wiggles. As I manage to get parts of her unburied, she’ll exclaim happily that her foot or wing or belly has hatched. Finally, when she’s completely unburied, she’ll jump up and we’ll go flying around the room to celebrate. And then the Mommy bird will need to feed the baby bird – the baby bird says. (Many imaginative play sessions seem to need to include a snack).
These activities were awesome! They were child-led and directed, and are fun ways to pass the time together. Also, they are a great way for me to connect with my younger children and understand how they are thinking in a freer environment. The fact that I am a willing participant and she gets to ‘direct’ my actions also helps.
I have found some great resources for you from around the web to help make imaginative play part of your day:
Imaginative Play Tips and Resources
Why Imaginative Play is important:
What’s up Fagans shares why imaginative play is important in her post: The Age of Imagination.
Elemeno-P Kids lists the Benefits of Imaginative Play.
Ways to Encourage Imaginative Play:
Bare Feet on the Dashboard share 3 Ways to Encourage Imaginative Play.
What’s up Fagans shares How to Encourage Imaginative Play in your Child.
The Jenny Evolution shares Four Ways to Encourage Pretend Play.
Learning 4 Kids shares What is Imaginative Play and how to Encourage It?
Sand in my Toes has Five Tips for Encourage Imaginative Play.
Imaginative Play Ideas:
In the Playroom has a list of more than 20 ideas for imaginative play.
Learn With Play at Home has a roundup of Fun Activities to Promote Imaginative Play.
Creative Play Central had her kids make pictures out of blocks.
Buggy and Buddy uses felt to encourage imaginative play.
Carrots are Orange uses tea sets to encourage imaginative play.
Play and Learn Everyday uses a box for her son’s imaginative play.
Fireflies and Mud Pies shows how to make a Flower Chain Crown for imaginative play outdoors.
My Little 3 and Me uses Felt and Salt Dough to make pizza.
My Little 3 and Me makes a Dragon Hobby Horse.
The Fairy and the Frog has several ideas for imaginative play.
Imaginative Play Sensory Bins:
Creative Play Central introduces a Fairy Bin with Kinetic Sand.
Mama’s Happy Hive has created some Animal Sensory Habitats.