A couple weeks ago I wrote this post on why I don’t take it upon myself to be my children’s entertainment source. My goal is to build their imaginations so that they will play independently.
These are some of the ways in which I foster imagination within my children…
Tent Building~ Let them drag out blankets and sheets and build a fort using furniture, your kitchen table and chairs, or construct one outside using the clothes line. My children love doing this! They drag into their tents all sorts of things, pillows, stuffed animals, army dudes, you name it!
Tea Parties/Picnics~ We have these almost daily! I set my daughter up with a tray and her tea set. She serves water and sometimes crackers. Other times I have her use her imaginary food. Either way it is a game that makes for some great conversations! I usually start out with a cup of “tea” or two, then I tell her mommy has some work to do and let her continue with her party. She usually brings her dollies in for the party and the fun and imagination builds.
Play Dough~ This is one I don’t do every week, maybe not even every month! But, it is one my children love even my eleven-year-old still enjoys creating with it. Plus, now that they are a bit older my boys can vacuum up any play dough crumbs that inevitably fall to the floor!
Box Creations~ When a cracker, cereal or Kleenex box becomes empty my boys will often ask if they can have it. They use them for barns, garages, caves, hideouts and all sorts of things for their toys. If I have bigger boxes they want those, too. I let them color them and create with them. You can also let your little ones use toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls for telescopes, field glasses or hideouts for small toys. (Eventually we do throw them away. This momma can only handle so much clutter!)
Dress up~ This is a major one! My three youngest children have especially enjoyed this area of make believe. Thankfully they have a grandma who is willing to sew costumes for them! They have received as gifts, hats, boots, moccasins, back packs and various accessories to make their outfits complete. On any given day you may find a cowboy, an army guy, Star Wars character, princess, bunny or puppy dog roaming around our house. These games last for hours and I love to hear all the creativity flowing from my children.
Collections~ My oldest son was big into tractors when he was little. He would play with them for hours, setting them up, making fields, working in the fields, selling items and buying others. If your child is interested in a particular area help them expand their play by setting up your kitchen table or living room floor with their collection, then ask questions and help them build a story with their toys.
Watercolors~ Grab some white cardstock and let your little artists paint away. After their creations are dry help them make cards out of their paintings. I have used these sort of cards for years and people always enjoy getting my children’s artwork.
Make A Book~ This is something my children do on their own quite often. They love to make up their own books full of pictures. Most often with my younger boys they fill the pages with pictures and so it turns into a picture book. Lots of fun and a great beginning to writing!
This is just a selection of the things you could do with your children to help them use their imaginations. One of the best ways to get them started is to ask them questions about what they are playing and maybe add in a few of your own outrageous ideas if they so desire. Then sit back and listen close, because you aren’t going to want to miss the great imagination that soars out of your child!